Hiking Together, 6 Feet Apart

Features Uncategorized
by Ariana Bhargava & Ella Moses, Features Contributors
photos contributed by Eliza Tyack

Sporting a face mask, senior Maya Hernandez traversed the trails of Mount Monadnock on Nov. 8, surrounded by her classmates, each of them six feet away.

“It was steep, and it was definitely tiring, but it was really cool to go and see other people, especially the people you don’t talk to outside of school.” she said. “It ended up being so fun.”

Noticing her senior students’ disappointment at their unconventional senior year, English teacher Eliza Tyack formed the Senior Outdoor Cooperative to connect with students through voluntary outdoor activities and excursions. Some events, such as the BIPOC and Allies walk on Veteran’s Day, provided opportunities for students to discuss important issues with peers.

“The unexpected sparks of meaning and connection that happen when people of all different types collide is part of the real-life magic of being thrown together in school, and this felt like a way to replicate that safely,” Tyack said.

Senior Alexa Firkusny said that outdoor activities are an innovative approach to keeping students socially engaged.

“I just really want opportunities to be with people,” she said. “It’s really cool that [Tyack is] doing this because I do know a lot of people from other high schools and in neighboring towns, and they’re not doing anything as special.”

Tyack said it is important for students to spend time outdoors and with one another, especially during these stressful times.

“Pandemic aside, I just love being in nature, the way it clears my head and makes me feel more connected to the world and myself,” she said.

Senior Eero Helenius, who has attended several excursions, said that the Cooperative fosters a community to help seniors get through the college admissions process.

“Applying to colleges and all that is a stressful time, and most people are going at it alone,” he said. “It’s just to hammer home the message that you’re all in it together, and we’re all going through it.”

Senior Madalin Small said that the Cooperative aims to provide seniors with similar opportunities to those that they would have before the pandemic.

“We just want to make sure that seniors get the opportunity to connect with each other, and just make sure that they have some fun,” she said.

Firkusny said she hopes that the Cooperative will continue in future years, even after school returns to the building.

Hernandez said that the Senior Outdoor Cooperative has successfully brought seniors closer together, despite their not being able to see each other in school.

“It’s a really good way of seeing people that you don’t normally see,” she said. “We’re really trying to bring our community closer through these activities, and make it so everyone feels like we have something to do outside, where we get to see people and get some human interaction.”