Upper Elementary Travelogue, by Shelley Hooke

The week of October 21st, our Upper Elementary class participated in the Outdoor Essential Skills trip to Dodgeville, Wisconsin.  I had the pleasure of attending as one of the parent chaperones.  The trip was a great success, with the students participating in all sorts of outdoor activities, building individual self-esteem, as well as increasing our class’s ever-growing foundation of “community.”  Below are the daily sentiments from my unique perspective as both a spectator and partial participator.  You’ll notice several specific details are omitted…the next time you encounter an Upper El student, ask THEM for the full story; I know they’d love the opportunity to share their experience with you!

UE Trip, Day 1/Monday

Our bus trip to Dodgeville was perfect!  As you know, the bus loading at MSLF went off without a hitch, and we departed promptly at 9am (wow!).

As planned, we made a pit stop for lunch at the Johnson Creek rest stop.  The timing worked out well, and we welcomed the opportunity to stretch our legs.

We arrived at the retreat center, welcomed by “Mr. Bill,” Nicolas, and Anna (our familiar instructors from last year).  After a very organized unloading of the bus, we waved goodbye to the bus driver and headed inside the building.

For the parents of returning students, it will be interesting to hear the comparative descriptions between last year’s building and this year’s.  (My take:   this facility is amazing, very nice with more amenities…like the difference between your freshman dorm and your senior housing in college). Be sure to ask your student all about it!

After a “second” lunch of burgers, potato wedges, chips, and…brownies, we headed for the hiking trail.  What a wonderful afternoon.

Back at the retreat center, and after our dinner, we enjoyed stories by the fire, card games, handwork, reading, etc.

Similar to last year, everyone’s hanging out in the great room/living room.  It’s nice to see so many different activities taking place.

UE Trip, Day 2/Tuesday

We’ve just wrapped up our day, lights-out was about 30 minutes ago…so I better make this short.

Today we participated in two activities: a challenge course and a nature-hike.  We were split into 2 groups, to make the activities a bit more manageable; with the whole class meeting together at midday for a fireside sack lunch.  I know your kids can’t wait to tell you all about the activities.

After dinner and some free time, we met around the campfire again (different location than at lunch).  As you might expect, we enjoyed discussing our day’s events, sang songs (accompanied by a ukulele!), listened to story time (excerpt from The Chronicles of Narnia), and yes… s’mores!

We’ve had a fantastic day, and we’re all ready to get some good rest in preparation for tomorrow.   Lights out for tonight.

UE Trip, Day 3/Wednesday

Another wonderful, inspiring, awesome… day!

Since we were unable to do the evening camp out, our instructors improvised, coming up with the next best thing, an “afternoon camp out.”

Before heading out, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and some indoor free time.  We were also treated to a “handwork” demonstration.  I’m not going to provide  any details, just wait until you see (and hear) all about it.


We finished up, cleaned up, and layered up to head outside for the day.  A few outdoor games, then we were off to the south/southeast hiking trails!  After splitting up into three groups, we had lunch, fireside, and learned how to camp “without leaving a trace.”  Wow!  It was so cool, I know you’ll hear about this experience!


On our hike back to the retreat center, we stopped by a large rock/cliff which overlooked the valley.  It was beautiful!

Here’s our official group photo and the end of the hike before heading back:


We enjoyed dinner and an evening of free time.  Most are packed and ready to head home; our morning schedule is all set, and we plan to
depart at 9am.

We’re all already looking forward to next year!!!

We adults (Mrs. Pakkala, Mr. McDaniel, Mr. Burns, the three instructors, and I) have enjoyed the week and seeing these students in action.  They’ve all represented MSLF – and your family – very well! Thanks again for letting me share this experience with your sons & daughters!

See you soon,

Healthy Child, Healthy School

Healthy Child, Healthy School is a new committee to MSLF, supported by the ideas of Maria Montessori who said “The land is where the are roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the earth.”  In keeping with that spirit the goal of the committee is to increase knowledge of healthy choices that encompass the whole child including food, physical activity, and nature.  There have been four wonderful activities that have already started:

1)     Garden Club – the elementary classes have been meeting once a week to revitalize the large raised beds and have just learned about covering crops for the winter.

2)     Events – Smoothies at the year-end picnic or fresh apple juice at the Fall Fest you will continue to see more healthy recipes at the various school events.

3)     Tower Garden – Primary 2/Mrs. Stompanato’s class is hosting a tower garden in her classroom…this is a unique opportunity to leverage cutting edge technology that decreases water needed to grow fruits and vegetables.

4)     Produce of the Month – A Fruit/Veggie of the Month program has kicked off in October; each month the classrooms will receive a small bag filled with selected produce and some handouts with information and recipes (the selected produce will be highlighted in the lunch menu).

Please enjoy the pictures from the garden club and this great egg substitute recipe.  We look forward to sharing more with you throughout the year.  If you have any questions please reach out to Eric Cooper, Megan Cooper, Tamara Mannelly, Kristyn Moore, Monica Rayburn, or Kelly Rynes.

Garden before & after:

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Save the Date!

2014 benefit final logoThis school year’s Annual Benefit will take place on Saturday, May 3, 2014! We are very excited to announce a new and exciting location just around the corner at Lake Forest Sportscars. Our theme, ‘The Driving Force,’ is not just a reference to the venue…more importantly, it is a nod to our amazing children, as they are most certainly the driving force of this wonderful school!

Benefit information and materials will be available in the Rotunda in the coming weeks, so stop by for a sneak peek!  Information will be updated weekly on the Benefit Page.