“The schools that make up Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) are both uniquely beautiful and powerfully similar in the way in which they embrace the natural landscape of our community,” Harwood Union High School co-principal Meg McDonough wrote in an email. “Across the community HUUSD schools take to the mountains with their students to create opportunities for connections among students and staff and to help foster an appreciation of our great outdoors.
“On Friday, September 9, Waitsfield Elementary kindergarten through sixth-grade students enjoyed a sunny picnic lunch on the deck and base area of Mad River Glen before over 140 students accompanied by school staff and several parent volunteers, began an ascent of the mountain. Students selected their goals, with the "easy" hike still including an elevation gain of almost 1,500 feet. Almost two-thirds of the students selected the challenge of summiting Stark Mountain, completing the 2.5 miles to the summit, then rapidly descending back to the base to catch the bus home. Anyone who has tried to motivate children to join a hike would be amazed at the enthusiasm that spontaneously erupts when students hike with a large group of peers. A visitor at the Mad River basebox, looking up at the students running up the trail, asked, ‘Are all Vermont kids like this?’"
On September 30, Warren Elementary School students went to Mad River Glen for their all-school hike. “It was so wonderful to see students who had never hiked up a mountain before overcome the psychological and physical challenges that accompany an adventure like this!” McDonough wrote. “What a gift to have our district’s schools establish a ritual of experience that provides lifelong memories.”
On October 6, Harwood High School’s senior class of 2023 spent the day at Mad River Glen. For the third year, Mad River Glen staff ran the famous Single chair, providing rides both ways, though most of the seniors chose to hike up and take the lift down. Students played yard games to music playing from the basebox area. “Thanks to the generosity of Shaw’s and a group of senior parents, a cookout was also enjoyed by all,” McDonough wrote. “This annual tradition creates a memory that kicks off senior year and brings the class together at a time when the stress of preparing for life after high school is great. Our ongoing gratitude to the Mad River Glen staff for continuing to make these opportunities a reality for our schools.”