All Kinds of News for November 10, 2015
Monarch School believes that personal growth happens organically through a range of experiences and activities, and our campus and curricula foster growth in many different ways. Our 120-acre campus lies in the Clark Fork valley between the rugged Monarch and Cabinet mountains, of which our Outdoor Programs takes ready advantage. We have recently undertaken a campus beautification program designed to improve the health of our forest and to enhance our network of trails. Students and therapists often spend their sessions walking these trails while they negotiate the many issues our students face. In addition to the natural beauty, we have set up several sites that take advantage of our pastoral setting, most notably our teepee site and meditation garden. We raised our teepee over three years ago in a traditional Native American ceremony, and the meditation garden, with its plinths and flowing water, was donated by the parents of a graduating class back in 2005. The campus also has several fire pits around which groups of staff and students will gather to roast marshmallows, make brownies and tell stories. Our campus has spaces and opportunities for each student to experience every path to find a life worth living. We truly believe in education for life, and we have developed our facilities to enable students to find their individual passions.
While many schools and districts are limiting the creative arts curricula, we celebrate the ways in which the creative arts provide our students a chance to plumb their emotional depths. Jesús Quintero, our program director, is also an internationally regarded director in theater who has directed and performed on four continents. He has renamed our new drama building La Mancha, and much of the theater he directs has immediate therapeutic benefits for our students. He has created a space in which students are free to explore themselves and shed self-consciousness. They experience healing through expression and movement, through body awareness and relaxation exercises. They also challenge themselves as they memorize lines, take risks and inhabit new roles. This exploration provides many students new insights into their own lives and stories.
The Chrysalis is a dual purpose building with two wings: one serves as an artistic refuge for the visual arts and the other a conditioning and weight-lifting room. Painting, drawing and sculpture enable students to draw on their innate creativity with mindfulness, without judgment. Our art teacher’s favorite mantra, “Don’t be attached to the outcome,” encourages students to take risks and be present in the moment. They see a blank canvas come alive with their own imagination, and seeing a work through to completion instills a unique sense of accomplishment. This artistic endeavor nicely complements our workout facility, but not merely in the artistic appreciation of the human form. Rather, students set goals and work to achieve these goals. Through hard work, students witness a tangible measure of their own achievement, and they can apply this ethic to other areas of their lives. In learning to care for themselves, both creatively and physically, our students develop a sense of empathy that connects them with others and their surroundings.
Our equine program draws on this emotional awareness in the care of our six horses. Students are responsible for the daily chores of feeding and grooming the horses as well as making sure the horses get enough exercise. In addition to the trails, we have both indoor and outdoor riding arenas that allow for year-round riding. The most challenging of all, however, is our vaulting class. In this class, students learn to perform acrobatics on horses. Students confront their fears and judgments as they master their routines before performing them in front of the school. The equine program encourages empathy in the care of our horses, and it challenges students to understand the various personalities of some very large creatures.
Monarch’s vocational program expands upon the idea of community. The greenhouse and garden work year-round to provide our kitchen with fresh organic produce. Students work with the soil: they sow, they tend and they harvest much of the food that our culinary arts class then prepares. They nurture seeds as they grow into plants and vegetables, and they take great pride in showing off the day’s harvest at dinner. Those working in the kitchen transform these raw ingredients into dishes we all enjoy. This model is at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, and these two disciplines instill in our students a sense of ownership over their food. Furthermore, providing food for the entire community inspires altruism expands beyond the dinner table.
Many spaces on our campus prove therapeutic. The meditation garden allows for our young clients to sit by water, meditate, and practice the art of being still while listening to flowing water. Our students have access to many trails around campus, and, with permission, each student can run or walk to his or her contentedness. And when the time falls back and we begin to experience darkness at four-thirty in the afternoon, students realize the necessity of the work they have accomplished on forestry crew. All of a sudden, the wood-harvesting skills they have learned during the dry months, such as peeling, sawing, splitting and mauling, become illuminated. After spending a day engaged in hard work, we are lucky to be able to offer our students and parents time in the sauna or in front of the fire, where ceremony occurs which fosters a time to relax, reflect, and reconnect.
Therapy can occur anywhere. Sometimes the floor of the woods can prove as essential as the floor in the middle of the lodge. That said, the ease with which each Monarch employee engages a student in his or her most heartfelt work, wherever that student decides to become vulnerable, reveals not only the caliber of our employees but also the safety and security that our campus provides.
Contact Monarch School for more information.
Visit our website at www.monarchschool.com