Being a student of The Valley

  • Published in MyView

By Anneka Williams, outgoing HU correspondent

This week’s Harwood student of the week column is a tribute to growing up and going to school here. Childhood in The Valley is an incredibly rich and diverse experience. Nestled in the Green Mountains, the Mad River Valley is one of the best places in the world in which to grow up.

Its endless offering of activities exhausts even the most energetic children, who can’t possibly get bored when world class skiing, beautiful hiking, river swimming, superb dining and more exist at our fingertips. Paradoxically, growing up in a small community offers big opportunities. At every turn, there are friends and neighbors from whom young people can learn – local public school teachers, farmers, craftspeople and ski bums.

The local elementary schools and then Harwood are one of the central features of childhood in The Valley. The virtues of a public school education are numerous but perhaps the most important is the lesson of self-advocacy.

Harwood is only as limiting as a student’s imagination. In recent years, students have founded clubs supporting girls’ education in Third World countries and local sustainability initiatives. Students have presented at conferences on a state and regional level. Students have been recognized as finalists in some of the most competitive academic programs in the country.

Students have programmed robots, Skype-called with businessmen in Switzerland, worked in numerous UVM medical clinics, placed in car races at Thunder Road, hosted a state level Queer and Allied Youth Summit, raised money for charity and so much more.

The accessibility of teachers at Harwood is incredible. It is not uncommon for students to work with teachers during the summer exploring a topic more deeply or to serve alongside teachers on faculty committees or to travel across the country with a teacher to give a presentation.

Childhood in The Valley offers a diverse and rich education that transcends the walls of a physical classroom. Students of The Valley have an immense amount of unique opportunities at our rural public school that help us stand out against students nationwide. I hope that despite the uncertain times, everyone can remember that we are all lucky to grow up in a beautiful, safe place and attend a functional, supportive school. In a world where people live in fear and children grow up uneducated, we can all count ourselves truly privileged. There’s no school I’d rather have attended than Harwood and I am proud to be a student of The Valley.

Williams is from Waitsfield and attended Waitsfield Elementary School and Harwood Union Middle and High School. After graduation, she is off to Bowdoin College in Maine.