Tuesday, November 25, 2014


This year's Climbathon was a blast! "We raised a total of $6000, and had a lot of fun," said junior Lucy Edy. "Since it was the day before Halloween, we had a costume contest!" There was also a raffle, flag decorating (the flags will be strung together and put up in the Mountain Alliance room), food, music with Julia Moretz aka "Jazzy J" as DJ , and games like balloon stomp and corn hole.

Sophomore Julia Moretz kept energy high as a fantastic DJ and prompted the most memorable moment for Lucy and for junior Summer Lewis. "The most memorable thing about the trip was our hip bump line that had 8 people in it," said Summer - as they all jammed out to some great music! "Even though we didn't reach our goal, we had fun and can continue our awesome, cost free trips that most people are not given the opportunity to experience," said Summer.

Lucy's most memorable moment from the event was getting to climb the tower with fellow junior Emma Gummerson while the song "Defying Gravity" played in the background. "Emma and I won best duo for being Elphaba and Galinda from the musical Wicked (I was Elphaba). The music started when we started climbing, I reached the top, and the song ended right as I hit the ground. It was epic." 

The event was run by ASU Program Planning students Chris Moore, Jake Filipkowski, and Drew Mercer. They did an amazing job and the event was a great success! Thank you to everyone who donated time and money to making Climbathon awesome!

Outdoor Photography Series

Day 1 Principles/ Elements of Design

The first day was our introduction to photography. We talked about some of the elements that make up a photograph and how they can make a photograph more or less appealing. Some of these elements include line, shape, color, texture, and contrast. After a mini lesson, the group went to the Greenway to start shooting. "l learned about lines directions and value in pictures," said senior Alyssa Quinn. "I got to learn about photography in a different way."

Day 2 Aperture/ Depth of Field

On the second day, students learned about how aperture and depth of field can change the impact of a photograph. Do you want everything in focus or just one part? How can you tell people what to look at without using words. Rough Ridge was the outdoor destination for Day 2. Students were able to get a few shots in before a rain storm chased us back to Boone. During the extra time that would have been spent shooting, students got to practice critiquing and talking about photographs.

Day 3 Shutter Speed/ Stop Action

Special guest and local professional photographer Lynn Willis joined us on Day 3 to talk about stop action and shutter speed. Lynn does a lot of work with outdoor adventure photography and offered great insight to the group. After brief lesson in stop action photography, we went to Rocky Knob and had bikers ride the pump track while students got to practice capturing motion in their photographs. Thanks to all of our models: ASU professor Kristian Jackson and his sons, staff member Hayley Upton, and student Sequoyah Wildwyn-Dechter.

Day 4 Lighting and Artist Statements

Lighting and Artist Statements were the priority for the last day of the photography series. Each student had to write an artist statement that would be displayed along with their photograph at the photo exhibit at the end of the series. We talked about what makes a good artist statement and the types of things to include in one. The lighting lesson covered the various lighting available throughout a day (sunrise/ sunset, golden hour, twilight, etc) as well as different lighting situations that might occur (overcast, storms, rainbows, etc). A trip out to Moses Cone led to photos of a double rainbow, rolling down hills, and some great golden hour and sunset photos.

Photo Exhibit at the Jones House

Each student got to choose one of their photographs to display in the Jones House for the month of November. The opening of the exhibit corresponded with the November 7th Art Crawl and we had a number of visitors who were impressed with the students' work! Stop by the Jones House to see all of the chosen photographs on display.

Rocky Face Climbing, Valle Country Fair Set Up and Clean Up, and Trail Building

Rocky Face Climbing

Mountain Alliance took our first ever trip to Rocky Face Recreational Area to go climbing! "It was really cool to get to go to Rocky Face, as it was the first time Mountain Alliance has had a trip there." said junior Lucy Edy. "There were some really fun climbs that I got to do. I climbed three times, and the third was the hardest, but the most rewarding." Rocky Face is a man-made crag. It was a quarry in the early to mid 1900’s and has been turned into a really cool climbing site. Lucy said that she learned "what old fashioned climbing shoes look like (like elf shoes!). I also got better at climbing and belaying." The close proximity of the climbs to the parking area allowed for the group to get a ton of climbing in - we had a total of 6 climbs set up at once and had most of the area to ourselves. "Overall it was a really fun trip," said Lucy. "I got to do what I really love, which is climb. Climbing trips are my favorite."

Valle Country Fair Set Up

Some students traveled out to Valle Crucis to help with the set up of the Valle Country Fair. The weather was chilly, but they didn't let that stop them from getting the work done - the group worked so hard that they actually finished ahead of schedule! Senior Paul Wellborn said he "had a fun experience working with all the people that were on the trip, carrying table and chairs and tents." When asked what the most memorable part of the trip was, Paul simply answered, "Being with great people." There's rumor that there was a bit of dancing that went on during this trip, too. Dancing plus service makes for a great trip!

Valle Country Fair Clean Up

Hike to a waterfall, go to the Valle Country Fair, do some service. Sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday and that's exactly what a group of Mountain Alliance students did on Saturday, October 18th. "It was great," said freshman Isaac Maling. "We enjoyed a nature hike to a beautiful waterfall, got to tour the fair, and we provided some service to the community by helping take down tents, tables, etc." Some students even joined the group AFTER taking the PSAT. That's dedication! Isaac said the most memorable part of the trip for him was probably "how we used such great teamwork to take down the fair." The Valle Country Fair is donating some money to Mountain Alliance to thank us for all of the work that we did!

Trail Building

Our second group of the school year took 13 students over to the Boone United Trail to continue work on a section of the trail. This is one in a long line of trips to Boone United Methodist to work on the trail. They picked up the tool case about halfway up and set off for the top of the trail where they cleared the trail of leaves, sticks, etc and dug new sections of it. "I learned about an awesome trail behind the United Methodist Church and how to build trails," said freshman Elias Goebeler of the trip. "The most memorable thing from this trip was after we finished building a part of the trail, me and a few others ran full speed down the trail to the bottom." Elias also said that he accomplished his goals of community service and having fun.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Urban Expedition 10/23/14-10/26/14

"There were 12 people on this trip, including Jupiter who was added to the trip the day we left!" recalls sophomore Zach Holtkamp. After a long day of traveling after school let out on Thursday, the group made it to their home for the weekend. "We left the school and finally got to where we were staying at 1 in the morning. We proceeded to wake up 6 hours later and most of us were not very excited about that."


Despite the tired faces, the group set out Friday morning to do service in the DC area. "We went to the Capital Area Food Bank and helped out with packing food boxes. We did so well that the manager who was working with us ran out of things for us to do! We then went to Glen Echo Park to do some trail service. We raked leaves, dug up invasive plants, and planted some native species." After their hard work, the students and staff got a tour of the Clara Barton house and learned about Ms. Barton's journey towards starting the American Red Cross.

 Food and Contra Dancing

Freshman Kaity Farthing said some of her favorite parts of the trip involved making our dinners. "Honestly, I really liked making dinner on the bus and eating things out of the cans." There was also a snafu with cooking rice in a plastic container that Kaity says was particularly memorable at Glen Echo. "Then we went contra dancing and we had a blast!" says Zach. Junior Brynne Wood agrees: "It was fun! Everybody there was confident. They explored different dancing moves and just went with it."


The next day was filled with sightseeing as the group visited museums, monuments, and memorials. To take a break from the constant action, there was a nice long rest on the National Mall. "I was so tired - I just wanted to sleep!" says Brynne. She enjoyed the break time and participated in what the group fondly referred to as the "Cuddle Puddle" where everyone collapsed into a group pile to take a nap. It wasn't all about the naps, though. Brynne said her favorite stop that day was at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. "I loved all of the quotes." Sophomore Jupiter Frerer also found the quotes on the different monuments and memorials to be a highlight of the trip. "My favorite part of the trip was walking around to all of the monuments.  The quotes were really powerful for me personally. They chose good ones and it was cool to see them in that format." After a night time stop outside the White House, they returned to the house they were staying at and enjoyed a campfire and s'mores.

An incredible journey

"On the final day," says Zach, "we went to see the Holocaust Museum." Students were given 2 hours to make their way through the museum and most were deeply impacted by what they saw. After debriefing their experiences, the Urban Expedition crew packed up their stuff and made their way back to Boone.

It was another incredible trip to Washington, DC.