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Students participate in ‘Wilderness Week’

Submitted to The Union
“The last time we were here was around this time in 2019,” says Bitney Prep Charter High School Director Jonathan Molnar standing before one of the buildings at Donner Mine Camp in Bear Valley as students started unloading their vehicles at the start of Bitney Prep’s Annual Wilderness Week, “Given all that has gone on since then, I know our students really need this opportunity.” (Submitted Photo)

For almost every year over the past two decades, students from Bitney Prep High School have participated in Wilderness Week, an opportunity for the entire school to get out of the classroom, get into nature, build community, and have fun. COVID put an end to this activity in 2020 and 2021. Not only had the pandemic kept kids out of the classroom, but it also kept them from this significant bonding experience.

This year, though, students, staff, and parent volunteers spent three days and two nights back at Donner Mine Camp in Bear Valley engaged in learning and team-building activities, sports (including rock climbing and hiking), cooking, a talent show, hanging out together, and more.

Tori Harris, Bitney Prep’s Social Science and Leadership teacher noted, “This kind of community building is even more important than ever for our kids. The isolation of the pandemic really took a toll. Getting together, unplugging, being out in nature, and enjoying each other’s company really helps these kids feel connected again… connected with each other, with the school, with their teachers. It’s great to see them enjoy themselves like this.”

An experience such as Wilderness Week is just a natural extension of the rest of Bitney Prep High School’s curriculum. As part of the Big Picture Network, Bitney Prep focuses on student empowerment as much as they do on student education. “A young person who is confident in who they are is more likely to be engaged in the world. They are more likely to move through life with purpose,” says Molnar. “Our students feel accepted for who they are because of our great community, our advisory program, and our internship program. Bitney Prep is about building connections throughout all the aspects of our students’ lives.”

“I’m just excited to be here, out in the woods with my friends and my teachers,” says Bitney Prep senior Josh. “And I’m really looking forward to making new friends – ones I might not have made in any other place than here.”

Something like Wilderness Week takes a lot of preparation and asks a lot of the school staff. “Someone asked me why I am excited about spending three full days and two nights with my students,” says Bitney Prep math teacher Alison Harper. “I told them that watching these kids have the opportunity to feel comfortable being themselves and watching them depend on each other and form those bonds is one of the best experiences a teacher can have.”

To find out more about the unique educational opportunities that Bitney Prep High School offers students in Nevada County, check out their website at http://www.bitneyprep.net or give them a call at 530.477.1235

Source: Bitney Prep High School


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