HEBRON — Hebron Academy students recently celebrated Integrated Curriculum Day to learn across the disciplines.
Students participated in workshops of their choice on subjects ranging from polar exploration to Rube Goldberg devices, from the history of the atom bomb to the future of the academy’s Hupper Library. The day culminated in a keynote address by Ed Webster of Brunswick, Himalayan pioneer and noted author, who told students they should chart their own course.
The program began as “Day of Concern” in the late 1980s, dedicated to AIDS, the environment, and world cultures but has since adopted a more inclusive title.
The day encouraged creativity, exploration and collaboration among students, allowing them to chart their own course with only general guidelines. Sessions were designed and led by a pair of faculty representing different departments to infuse cross-curricular learning into each activity.
“With the increasingly rapid pace of life, students are distanced from themselves, from each other, and from the world,” said Language Department chairman and longtime Hebron faculty member Cynthia Reedy. “I like to think that programs like this bring us together; they let celebrate learning together, without the onus of grades, cliques and curricula.”
The session themes were far-reaching. Portland Mayor Michael Brennan presented his personal “journey” through a life of service as a social worker and now a civil servant. Figurative journeys were explored in a session titled “The Belt: A Worn Journey,” where students crafted their own metaphorical “belts,” projects modeled after the belt of Into the Wild protagonist Chris McCandless.
Reedy said the exercise not only benefited students but also teachers.
“Having faculty pairs lead each session allows teachers to observe their colleague’s teaching in a totally unimposing setting, with neither evaluation nor critique,” she said. “Not only do we learn from one another about how to teach, we learn more about one another as individuals. And that can only strengthen our faculty as a whole.”
Webster, a Brunswick resident, told students about his three ascents of Mt. Everest in the 1980s with no radio, no oxygen tanks and no sherpa guides. He pioneered three new routes up different faces of the peak. He passionately depicted his travails in the Himalayas, which cost him part of his left hand.
Webster is an author, lecturer, publisher, mountaineer and photographer who has published two guidebooks and the award-winning nonfiction work “Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest.” He came to Hebron as part of the Yovic Speaker Series, named in honor of late Hebron alumnus James Carroll Yovic ’76.