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Intensive Sessions at The RSEC Academy

Middle and high school students from The RSEC Academy recently participated in intensive sessions during the week between the end of the Winter semester and beginning of Spring. This week-long experiential learning event took students out of the classroom and into the real world to learn and practice skills ranging from skiing in New Hampshire’s white mountains to creating Pinterest-worthy crafts and beauty products.

RSEC would like to thank the local businesses and organizations that participated and helped make the 2016-17 intersessions such a success, teachers and staff for creating and organizing the sessions, and RSEC students for stepping outside of their comfort zones to learn new skills.

Here’s a recap of the individual sessions, straight from the teachers and students. Read more about intensive sessions at RSEC.

Winter Survival

The RSEC Academy recently participated in its annual intensive week. Students chose a topic to learn about for the week, rather than attend traditional classes. One group of students chose to learn about winter survival. During their week, they were certified in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), including the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Students also spent two days and one night in the woods on the campus of Longview School in Deerfield, New Hampshire, building shelters, cooking over the fire and sleeping outside during winter conditions. Finally, they built survival kits to keep in their hiking packs should they ever get stranded. The students were enthusiastic and really enjoyed their time in the woods. They built two different shelters to sleep in. The sleeping arrangements were cozy (to say the least!) but even with a winter rain shower, most everyone stayed dry.

Students learned to start a fire, build a shelter and cook food over an open flame during their winter survival intensive session.

Winter Activities

Intensives week is an opportunity for RSEC students to get out of their traditional classroom activities and venture out on interesting trips. Among many activities this year, four students headed to northern New Hampshire to explore the area and participate in winter activities.

The first day included a trip to Sunset Hill Trail overlooking Lake Sunapee in Newbury, NH. Students geared up in snowshoes and warm clothing and headed up the trail. The weather was sunny, the trail was covered in light snow from a weekend storm, and conditions were excellent for a morning adventure. Students made it to the top of the trail in about an hour, with frequent stops to enjoy the view and take some pictures. A beautiful forest of pine trees covered in snow was a lovely reward after the intensity of the hike. Highlights of the trail include the spectacular views of Lake Sunapee and the Mount Sunapee ski resort. This was a great day for students and staff, with many discussions about additional hikes in the area, and questioning when they could come back and complete them.
The next three days of this adventure were spent skiing at Cannon Mountain, Franconia, NH. Most of the trails were open, and in great condition for skiing. The weather was typical for Cannon Mountain, with grey, blustery skies and snow showers throughout the three days. Students and staff explored all areas of the mountain, challenging themselves to a variety of terrain and supporting each other through some of the more difficult trails.

Nights were spent at the Viaggio Spa and Wellness Center at Loon Mountain, where students and staff could work out some more if they wanted, and also relax and share stories of the day.

At the end of the week, all students expressed how much fun they had. They worked as a team through some unfamiliar and challenging activities. They gained self-confidence, which will help them to gain future success. They worked hard each day, and created great memories of experiences shared with their peers.

The Winter Intensive group in Peabody Base Lodge preparing for first day skiing at Cannon Mountain.

DIY & Pinterest

During the week of January 24 through 27, students participated in a small group focused on do-it-yourself (DIY) craft activities through inspiration found on Pinterest. The week was broken into four themed days: DIY Home Décor; No-Bake Cooking; Paper Crafts; and DIY Personal Care. Students could make wall art with canvas and wood, and used techniques such as crayon melting to create the effect they wanted. They learned that by using everyday items they could ‘upcycle’ to create something new, such as using square tiles to make drink coasters, wood and nails to design string art, and old books to fold designs with the pages. The most popular day was the “Personal Care” day. Students made their own lip balm, lotion bars, and bath bombs from regular, every day, household ingredients.

To culminate the week, students visited Time to Clay in Nashua, NH to paint pottery and enjoy a group lunch. Overall, it was a successful, crafty week!

Students used their creativity to make personal care products and works of art during their Pinterest-inspired DIY intensive session.

Intensive Learning About Animals

Recently, students and teachers from The RSEC Academy in Amherst, NH, engaged in a week-long immersive learning experience to explore aspects of the animal kingdom. For this week of specialized learning, students and staff visited a variety of places that focus on animal care and education including: Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH, Animal Adventures Family Zoo & Rescue Center in Bolton, MA, Good Mojo Dog Center in Milford, NH, and Mountain Lane Farm in Temple, NH.

Throughout the week, students engaged in hands-on learning with experts in the field of animal care. Students learned that the amount of proper care and attention varies depending on the type of animal being cared for. Students were able to interact in multiple ways with a variety of animal life such as holding starfish at the Seacoast Science Center, grooming a Bernese Mountain Dog at Good Mojo Dog Center, riding a horse at Mountain Lane Farm, and petting an alligator at Animal Adventures. Some students took risks and faced personal fears by interacting with animals that they were uncomfortable with. Students in the Animals Intensive also learned about the variety of career opportunities available within the field.

Overall, students enjoyed a fun and interesting week filled with new experience.

RSEC Academy students visited the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH as one of their stops on the week-long intensive session focused on animals, as well as Good Mojo Dog Center in Milford.

Amazing Race Intensive

Intensives week is an opportunity for RSEC students to get out of their traditional classroom schedule and immerse themselves in learning a specific skill or activity. This year, six students participated in activities all over NH and Boston focused on teambuilding and critical thinking.

The first day began with students creating a team name, JADED & FIPP, using everyone’s first initials. Next the students followed clues and completed tasks to collect envelopes with the directions to each letterbox location. Letterboxing is an outdoor hobby that combines elements of orienteering, art, and puzzle solving. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly accessible places (like parks) and distribute clues to finding the box. Students loaded into vans to follow the clues and helped the driver navigate to each letterboxing location. Students worked together as a team to decipher clues and follow directions. The day was chilly, the sun was out, and the trails were clear making for a great day of exploring parks and hiking. The students were successful at locating all but one letterbox and completing all the tasks.

Day two:  The teams headed to Portsmouth, NH for an “Amazing Race” coordinated by Portsmouth Team Building. Students and teachers were broken into two teams and given backpacks, clue packs and geocache compasses to direct to each clue location. The teams raced through Portsmouth, while completing tasks as a team. Students enjoyed taking turns following compass clues. Some tasks presented involved silly games and asking locals for assistance. Everyone enjoyed great conversation and laughter during this day-long race.

Day three:  The students loaded into the van to travel to Malden, MA, for a day of questing at Boda Borg. Students and teachers again broke into two teams and set off to work through physical and mental challenges to complete quests. Students could show off their strengths in various ways throughout questing and were very supportive of one another, recognizing and utilizing each other’s strengths to get their team through quests together. Students excelled in critical thinking, physical ability and leadership. Students and teachers agreed that this was more fun and more challenging than

Day four:  Students travelled to Boston to complete an Urban Adventure Quest throughout the city. Students and teachers followed specific directions and clues to lead them to various historical points throughout the city. This day involved a lot of walking through the city beginning in the Boston Commons and ending at Faneuil Hall. This was our coldest day of the week and although everyone was fatigued from the week’s adventures, everyone persevered and worked together to complete all the tasks.

At the end of the week, the students expressed the fun that they had doing each of the activities. Students showed leadership and used their personal strengths to achieve group goals.  They practiced skills throughout the week to build self-esteem and teamwork. The students worked together all week and made great memories.

The Amazing Race intensives group posed for a photo at Boda Borg, a virtual reality gaming and problem solving experience, in Boston during one of the stops on their session’s agenda.

No-bake Cooking

For the 2016-2017 Middle School Intensives, students worked together breaking in our school’s new kitchen with a week of cooking. Students came up with a list of dishes they wanted to cook including pizza, pretzels, fondue, monkey bread, and pancakes. They researched websites to find recipes, making sure to take into consideration level of skill and reviews from other cooks. They then worked together to create a grocery list and navigated the local Market Basket to find all items needed. Students then broke up into groups and independently created these dishes with success. Mid-week, students visited Bertucci’s to build upon life skills and practice real-world skills in our community.

Students ended their week by working on a presentation to share with classmates and the RSEC community, in addition to creating a cookbook keepsake.

Students prepare and test their culinary creations during their intensive session centered on cooking.

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