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Friday Journal

posted May 17, 2015, 8:42 PM by Pamela Gades   [ updated May 17, 2015, 9:01 PM ]

An Open Letter to My 8th Graders

South Dakota Field Investigation Trip


All year, we waited for the South Dakota Field Investigations Trip, then just like that, it was over.  There were many tears on the last day. Why? Simply, or maybe not so simply, because of connections.

You made connections to your planet Earth this week.  You trekked the soft soils of the Badlands, viewed the awesomeness of Devils Tower, and went into the depths of Wind Cave.  You saw glimpses of the past in humongous dinosaur fossils, and a possible glint of future energy sources at the Lake Benton wind turbines.  You pieced together stories of how mountains formed and land eroded from the clues ever-present in the Earth.  Every day new connections were made to the Earth and its past, present, and future.

You made connections to new people.  College students Christian, Leila, Molly, Jackson, and Allie were strangers on Monday, but like family by Friday.  You laughed, played cards, worked on journals, and shared amazement at the beautiful scenery.  They saw you with fresh eyes and new expectations.  They encouraged you to go beyond your tentativeness and believe in your ability and yourself.  You in turn reminded them of the importance and honor of what it is to be a teacher.  

You may have known them on some level before, but you also made connections to parents.  These parents ate meals with you, helped you with journals, and made sure you helped with camp chores for the week.  They took a week off of work, knowing the importance of this trip for all of our 8th graders.  They became parents to all of you, even though they may have originally intended to be there for only their own son or daughter.

Finally, you made connections to one another.  Even though many of you have known one another since kindergarten, this was “knowing” on a whole new level.  You saw each other through a new lens.  You realized classmates had little known talents, and intelligence.  You saw people with more compassion and acceptance.  As well, they allowed you to be who you really are - and not the person you may put on within the school building, or the confines of Parkers Prairie.  

Nurture the connections that you have made this week.  Don’t feel obligated to return to the person that you were previously.  On some level, you really cannot, as a part of you is forever altered by those connections.  Perhaps simply and best put in a recent Facebook post by a participant in the first (2003) excursion: “This trip changed my life.”

Thank you for a great trip!  Continue to connect, now and always.

Mrs. Schoeneck :)