Starting in February of 2012, junior Leah Bartel will attend the ecologically-based Conserve School in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin for all of the second semester.
Bartel found out about the Conserve School through one of her friends. “Last year, my friend, Sammy Gabbard, saw that one of her friends on Facebook ‘liked’ a link for the Conserve School, so she looked it up online. Originally we both really wanted to go,” Bartel said.
At the Conserve School, only 60 students enroll for one semester at a time. Students who get accepted have to demonstrate a commitment to good grades, leadership skills, an ability to adapt to living on their own, and a love for the environment.
Bartel was able to show all of these qualities, and was accepted to the Conserve School. Each student who gets accepted automatically gets a $15,000 scholarship, so the total fee is only $200 per semester.
Classes take place outside 70% of the time, since the school’s emphasis is on the “doing.” For example, to learn about Lewis and Clark’s experiences, students would build a dug-out canoe.
“I plan on studying Environmental Sciences [in college] and that is what the Conserve School’s whole focus is on. It’s something very different to put on a college application, but more importantly, I’m looking forward to the experiences I will have there,” Bartel said.
Bartel will be staying on campus in a dorm called the Elaine House where she will share a room with one other student and have a three minute walk to the school building.
“I’m so excited about going to the Conserve School for a semester. I’m looking forward to the new learning style, being outside all the time, living in a dorm, the camping and backpacking trips that I will get to take, and how this experience will change my perspective about the environment,” Bartel said.
Initially, Bartel’s parents, Tony and Kris, did not encourage her going to the Conserve School. “It wasn’t until after going to the Open House that we realized that the experience was not only very important to her, but would provide her with a solid platform with which to launch her college career,” they said.
Goodbyes will be difficult for Bartel and her family. She will leave after semester exams and return to McNick at the beginning of her senior year.
“I will miss all of my friends, my teachers, and Ski Club! However, I’m looking forward to having a classroom with no walls, and becoming a part of their community,” Bartel said.