Eagle Class Chamonix 2016
The Finale - Day 5 - How will I take my learning forward?
The brooding clouds of the previous day had dispersed to give way to clear blue skies and stunning views of the glorious mountains for our final day in Chamonix. We enjoyed our final morning reflections and games led by Mrs Hart before setting off to the Jardin des Cimes by coach. We wound our way through french villages and up into the wooded surroundings of the gardens. The gardens are accessible for everyone and the children enjoyed a tour using their senses. We joined for our penultimate circle where the children thought about how they would take their learning home, how they would keep their important pledges and the journey they had started as New Leaders in Sustainability.
With Mont Blanc looking down on us, we heard an excerpt from Dr Seuss' "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" (One of Mrs Hart's favourites):
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.
It's opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And then things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.
You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
Well done Eagles for a fantastic adventure - remember Think Pink!
Top of the World (Europe!) - Aiguille du Midi - Day 4 - What does the world need to be well?
The low booming voice of thunder echoed through the valley as the children slept soundly in their beds. But then, the children were woken by a spectacle of lightening flashes. The sound filled the refuge as the torrential rain poured down on top of us. Some of us were even lucky enough to have an indoor waterfall feature appear during the night! But all was well and the children were greeted by the sun streaming through the window.
Out on the mountain side, the children had their morning reflection. The air was fresh, cold and invigorating; the children enjoyed looking down on the Chamonix Valley reflecting on their successes from yesterday.
Breakfast was a welcome (large) bowl of hot chocolate and the children munched on cereal and du pain. It was time to look forward to our final question: "What does our World need to be well?" The children listened to a story told to them by Miss Beeby on top of the mountain side; how the Chamonix valley wasn't always like it is now and how some big ideas changed the Chamonix valley for the better and to improve it. The children were challenged to become Mayors of Chamonix and create a big idea where they would look at their carbon groups and think how to improve the valley further. With views of the valley in front of them, the children pondered on what they could do as leaders, no idea was too small. The children brought their ideas together and worked as a team to decide on an even better idea for each carbon group. Each group presented their ideas and there were good questions from the rest of the Eagles to challenge the ideas.
"To improve the transport and carbon emissions in the valley, we would like to create an app in which people can car share and reduce the amount of vehicles on the road."
"We would like to set up an initiative where restaurants and hotels have their food waste collected-which is then composted. The compost is then given back to the farmers and local growing areas to encourage a cycle of the food used."
"Instead of selling bottled water, the town should sell sports bottles/rests able bottles as souvenirs which can be refilled at the springs. This would reduce the amount of plastic to be recycled. The springs are then being utilised for their fresh, clean, glacial water."
"In households across Chamonix, they monitor their energy usage like we do at school. Throughout the year, if the household is below a certain amount, they pay less for their energy use."
"Where bins are scarce (up the mountains or on certain walking routes) people can carry a clip on bin bags where they can store their rubbish until they come across a bin to dispose of their rubbish appropriately. The clip on bin bags would be available from all public places in town and would be free."
The big ideas the children created were great and truly reflected their feelings on preserving such a beautiful world. Following their presentations, the children got ready again for the final climb to the top-this time though, it would be a cable car getting us up there!
Breathing slowly and deeply, the children were being taken higher and higher. Excitement rose as the views went from spectacular to sublime. It was also time to layer up! The temperature had dropped significantly and there were icy winds blowing across the platforms. The children got to step out onto a ledge where they could see the entire valley and beyond-the view was crystal clear. Mountains powdered with snow and the sapphire sky filled with brilliant sunshine, amazed the children. How privileged they felt reflecting on their conversations with Mother Nature the day before. Their learning was coming together; from the well-being of ourselves; to the well-being of the team; to the well-being of our world.
Together, we all made the final ascent to the top platform. With steady steps, deep breathing and magnificent views the children created their circle. "What does our World need to be well?"
After the pledges it was the swift descent back down into Chamonix town.
The temperature on the top was colder than it had been for a long time - too cold to sit and eat our lunch there but it was an opportunity to wear all the layers of clothing that we had brought along with us.
Back in the town the sun was shining and peeling back the clothing was essential. We ate our lunch in glorious sunshine, then it was off for a little shop to buy some French goodies to take home to our families. Armed with 20 euros the children ventured into the shops and excitedly exchanged it for posters, postcards, toys and badges.
Full of pride, and with a little energy left, we decided not to take the free bus and walk back to hotel for a shower and a well-deserved rest.
22 clean children emerged from their rooms an hour and half later (4 forgot to shower - really!) to enjoy some time walking around the lake and share reflections in their groups before dinner. After dinner the children worked in their groups to create performances that shared their learning of the week. This could take any form they wanted: news reports, comedy singing etc. What a giggle they gave to us all - and what a class of performers they are!
The children are now all safely tucked up in bed - hopefully packed - and excited about tomorrow: the visit to the Jardin de Cimes and then of course reuniting with you all. They will meet you at the airport as New Leaders in Sustainability (a title they truly deserve) will walk through the gates alone - ahead of the staff who they no longer need for support.
Sur la montange - Day 3 - What does a team need to be well?
After a hearty breakfast and a last minute bag check, Mr Phil took us outside for some team bonding. Skiing is a popular past time in Chamonix, however, not so much in June! Our teams were handed some wooden skis and asked to get their whole team from one position to another! Much hilarity ensued as the teams fell about the place and no-one got anywhere fast. Mr Phil asked the teams to regroup and amend their tactics. On the second time around, there seemed to be a much more coordinated effort to go forward as there was a rise in communication and the teams had discussed the merits of each member before skiing. By the third attempt, everyone was firing on all cylinders and all the teams reached the end.
The teams then decided on three words - a mantra - that they would use to help them up the mountain.
Water Team - Steady, Breathe, Together
Waste Team - (Think) Pink, Believe, Try
Transport - Dream, Believe, Achieve
Energy - Teamwork, Leadership, Communication
Food - Trust, Encourage, Do
From le Signal we had another three hours of hiking ahead of us. Little did we know, that we would be negotiating twists and turns, rocks and boulders, icy streams and snowy falls. From time to time, we stopped to contemplate, take deep breaths and recharge our batteries. This was also an opportunity to let each group, in turn take the lead - we were definitely working as a whole team of 31! The sun still shone and the water still flowed and the positive chatter still continued. There were a couple of wobbles here and there, but the positivity of the team ensured each and every one of us, felt happy and glad of the companionship and motivation. As 5.30 approached, our hearts lifted, we could see the refuge ahead! Our tummies rumbled and our legs ached, but this was overcome by our joy at having arrived at our destination, safely and together.
After a well-deserved and warming supper of soup, pasta, and apple pie (tarte au pommes), we stepped out into the glorious sunshine once again to breathe and take in the majestic views. Down below us lay the Chamonix valley, so tiny it looked as if you could hold it in your hand. As the sun set behind the mountains, casting orange and scarlet hues across the scudding clouds, we made our second pledges of the week - what does a team need to be well?
Snuggling down into our dorms, the children's heavy eyelids closed gently as we were lulled to sleep with fantastical stories crafted by Miss Beeby to the girls and Mrs Stevens to the boys. Mr Phil was captivated!
Scaling the Rockface - Day 2 - What do I need to be well?
Today was the day of challenges, pledges and individual well-being. We rose to the sun streaming through our windows which lifted our spirits, there was an upbeat feel to the day. After our early morning reflections, we energised ourselves with a delectible breakfast with delicious freshly baked croissants, du pain et chocolate chaud. Clutching journals, we headed to Les Gaillands to share our presentations which were about ourselves. These were honest, inspiring and emotional. The children rose to this very first challenge of the day with maturity, confidence and respect. It was a humbling experience to listen to each and every one of them share a little bit about themselves in such an open way.
Following this, we headed back to Hotel des Lacs where the children enjoyed their second challenge; drawing each other without lifting the pencil off the page. They then reflected on what it means to be well: spiritual well-being, mental well-being, physical well-being and emotional well-being. The thoughts and sentiments echoed by the children in the posters they designed were inspirational.
Children prepared their own lunches of which there was a selection of delicious french baguette; ham, cheese, salad and homemade flapjacks. The children were mindful to take only what they could eat and no more. Lunch was eaten outside under dappled shade of the trees. No waste from any-they munched through the lot!
Excitement rippled through the group as time for the rock climb approached. We got into our circle and shared a word each about how we were feeling, reflection on ourselves and our well-being for the task ahead. The rock climbers showed the children how to wear their helmets and harnesses safely and the importance of working together to enable each of them to achieve their best. At the beginning, many of the children had expressed their feeling of fear, panic, trepidation and nervousness. To watch their confidence grow each time they went back for more, each time they achieved a higher height, was a joy to behold. The support and encouragement they gave each other was also gratifying and a real pleasure to be part of.
With a surge of achievement, the children came together to share how they were now feeling after their climbing challenge. Words of pride, success, excitement filled the circle. At this moment, we got together in our groups to discuss our individual pledges: "What do we need to be well?" The children again displayed thoughtful reflections that truly meant something to each of them, something that would strive to achieve.
During dinner, following a delicious helping of meatballs, pasta and garlic bread, the children shared a question and answer session with a member of staff at Hotel Vert. They learnt about how the restaurant used locally-sourced food wherever they could and that they saved water in many different ways and were conscious of the energy they used. They also learnt about Chamonix providing free public transport to reduce the number of cars driving through their beautiful town. It reaffirmed all the good work that we do at school and how we can still strive to make further improvements.
The children are now tucked up in bed ready for the biggest challenge of the week. With their bags packed, exhausted minds and bodies they will dream the night away. We have confirmed that the route we planned is clear of snow so we will heading that way. Tomorrow night there will be no blog as there is no internet connection at the refuge.
See you on Thursday... Eagles xxx
The Eagle has Landed - Day 1
We've arrived! As the children entered the Chamonix valley, they didn't know where to look first; at blue sky or the white, snow-capped mountains! The journey here has been as smooth as it could possibly be, with all connections on time. A little reminder of the 11 hour journey we have been on since 5.45 this morning - coach to St Pancras, Eurostar to Paris, Metro to Gare d'Austalitz, walk to Gare de Lyon, TGV to Annecy, coach to Chamonix. The children have had their eyes and ears open the whole time - well done!
We had our first group meetings on the TGV from Gare de Lyon to Annecy. Here the children shared their thoughts on the five carbon areas that they would be focusing on for the week - water, waste, energy, food and transport.
Each group was challenged to come up with two questions that they would investigate during their time away:
"How can we reuse the water we leave in school?"
"How can we prevent wasting water?"
At dinner time, they encouraged everyone to only take as much water as they could drink.
"What food is good for us?"
"When and why do we enjoy food?"
They challenged everyone to come into the Hotel Vert for dinner together and enjoy each other's company throughout the meal.
"What makes energy?"
"What could be the most sustainable use of energy for Chamonix?"
They reminded us to check all the lights and anything electrical was off before we left our rooms.
"Is the transport in Chamonix affecting the environment?"
"Is the transport in Chamonix the same as in Walton?"
They found leaflets in the hotel promoting public transport in Chamonix.
"How does the type and amount of waste differ from Walton?"
"How can waste be positive?"
They scored each table's leftovers from dinner and challenged them to better it the next meal.
After a hearty meal, the children have been given some time to explore their beautiful surroundings and make notes in their journals. We will end this evening reflecting on the journey, the distance we have travelled, the challenges we will face and the beauty around us.
We will send the children up to their beds with a calming and reflective prayer by Mrs Stevens:
As we gather together in this place of beauty and reflect on the long and varied journey we have taken together, help us to reflect, think and share together our aspirations and dreams. We have travelled far to learn what matters in life, to make important decisions and think about what we can all do as individuals, a group or a team to make changes for the better. Guide and steer us in the right direction, help us to fully understand the meaning of being a New Leaders in Sustainability.
As the mountains, white with snow, rise above us and the sky welcomes us with sunshine, may this week always be held very special in our hearts, with memories and life-changes that will stay with us forever.
Eagle Class prepare for next week
This morning we had a visit from Mrs Athersuch to tell us about the logistics for the week ahead. The children have made a "Remember List" in their new Chamonix journals and reflected on their Hopes and Fears for the trip. The children are getting very excited now with talk of what they want to achieve whilst in Chamonix and what they are looking forward to the most.
The elders have also shared the week's motto: S.P.E.L.L
S - Safety
P - Positivity
E - Enjoyment
L - Listen and Learn
L - Leadership
"I am really excited to take amazing photos of the mountains and listening to nature." - Catherine
" I can't wait to spend time with my friends and enjoy the experience." - Maldini
"I am looking forward to understanding leadership more and accomplish goals as well as help others achieve theirs." - Tate
With their speeches written, the children are now eager to get on the coach early Monday morning and set off on this exhilarating adventure.
Check back next week for updates about how the team are getting on!