Hopkins School Adventure

July 3, 2016

After a beautiful morning in the quaint town of Cornwall, we drove to New Haven to visit Hopkins School. Hopkins is an independent school serving students grades 7 – 12. Founded in 1660, it sits upon a hill filled with historic red-brick buildings, multiple green athletic fields and a vast forest. Walter Camp, a Hopkins alumnus is famous as the "Father of American Football!" Along with football, this school supports many athletic teams. They have an entire building dedicated solely to squash! We learned that this is a "very New England sport."

The population of the school impressed us. The teacher to student ratio is roughly 1 to 9. What was most exciting though was to learn about the forest that is not only part of their campus but is used as an outdoor classroom. We were guided that day by Shelley Fabian, a teacher that attended the ISEEN conference held at Punahou in 2016, and who has shaped and developed the outdoor learning in their forest. We were eager to see the phenomenal outdoor adventure program there, which was bustling with students at every station. While participation in this program is not yet integrated into their curriculum as a core requirement, it is available to all students.

What touched me was that in a time when technology is so ubiquitous, students at Hopkins who participate in the outdoor opportunity are immersed in nature, learning values, problem solving, cooperation, collaboration, risk-taking and more, all in the safety of the canopy of towering trees, just a three-minute walk from the closest school building and a stones-throw from the girls' lacrosse field.

The adventure program, which includes a dynamic ropes course, is called the Adam Kreiger Challenge Course named after a former student who was terminally ill. His family shared that the values he learned in the challenge course were vital to his spirit and gave him the strength needed during his battle with his illness. We experienced the peace that he must have felt in the forest and witnessed the strength that he gained by watching the students that day take on each challenge placed before them. I was intrigued by the acorns, leaves and woodchips that blanketed the forest floor as well as the not-so-dangerous-yet-startling garden snake that slithered by. As Hawaiians we understand our close and symbiotic relationship with the land and it was refreshing to see that these values are being shared so purposefully at Hopkins. As we support the Mālama Honua message being carried around the world by Hōkūleʻa, this was a powerful and fitting visit to Hopkins School in lovely New Haven, Connecticut.