KILLINGTON—Killington Mountain School’s full-term students and staff returned to campus the first week of September, and the 2014-2015 season kicked off with a roster of community-building activities.
A few weeks prior, a group of students had come up to KMS to help faculty and staff construct the school’s hay sculpture, as a part of the town of Killington’s annual hay festival. The school has adopted a black bear as its mascot, in part due to a frequent ursine visitor to the campus over the summer. It was decided that the hay sculpture should take the form of a bear. The final product was made complete with the addition of skis, a snowboard, a bike, and some textbooks.
Dorm students moved in on Sept. 2, and the school community gathered on campus that evening for a community barbecue. Students and parents, in addition to faculty and staff and their families, sat together at picnic tables on the front lawn, getting acquainted and sharing stories of their summer vacations. Head of School Tao Smith gave some remarks about the upcoming season, urging the student athletes to stay focused, work hard, and most importantly, to respect one another and their place in the world.
Reflecting on orientation
After the first half-day of classes, the students headed out on the much-anticipated annual orientation trip, to North River, N.Y.
The student athletes had many stories to share of the various activities they enjoyed on the three day trip. There were rafting, ropes courses, games of Manhunt, bonding activities and House competitions, hot dogs and Jiffy Pop cooked over an open flame— and there was paintball.
“My goal was to hit Tao, to be honest,” Senior Spencer Wood shared, “but in the end, he hit me! And it hurt!” The competition was fierce, as the students, faculty, and staff were broken up into teams according to their respective Houses. Assistant Head of School Dave Willis commented that the paintball was “incredibly fun but also somewhat painful!” Willis even found an unexploded paintball trapped in his shirt. In the end, it was a three way tie between the Blue, Purple and Red Houses.
The Houses also competed in a hotly contested raft race, where they paddled upstream on six separate rafts. Orange and Red fought for the first place spot, with the Red House finally taking the win, and finishing the trip in the first place spot overall.
The students loved sitting around the campfire at night, roasting hot dogs and sausages and making popcorn, and Senior Jonah Mead-VanCort was lauded as an outstanding chef, as he took on the role of cook during the trip.
Head of School Tao Smith commented that the trip was “outstanding,” adding, “It was a great deal of fun for everyone, and at the same time we also had important discussions about trust, respect and the community we live in, which is a culture of excellence and elite competition. We examined what we as individuals need to do each day to contribute to this community, so that we can feed off one another, thereby creating energy and momentum, while making individual choices with purpose and direction.”
One thing was clear: everyone returned from the trip a little bit weary, maybe a tiny bit dirty, and perhaps somewhat bruised, but they also returned as a strong, bonded group, united and ready to take on the upcoming season.