Freshmen musings from New Mission High

by Ana Maria Caballero McGuire, Children’s Education Fellow
October 2, 2018

Fog through Pines

Freshmen musings from New Mission High

A few weeks ago when the new academic year for Boston Public Schools was just starting, Rene Reyes, a history teacher from the New Mission High School in Hyde Park, reached out to the Arnold Arboretum with a request. How could their entering freshman class visit and engage with a beautiful landscape, and work towards building community there?

After some conversation, a plan was hatched:  students would work in small groups with their advisors to navigate the Arboretum with maps, searching for at least three distinct areas to spend their time.  Students were to consider each landscape and use photography as a way to capture a moment of beauty, inspiration, or interest. The final step was to climb to the top of Peters Hill, where all the students would gather for a picnic lunch and share their experiences.

What follows are musings and photos by six students as they reflect on their experiences and learning process while at the Arboretum.

Red flowers This photo captures what it means to be happy, free, peaceful, and active. I chose this picture to tell everyone to love themselves, let loose, and have fun on a field trip. In this picture, I was scared and self-conscious because I do not take pictures or find myself looking at nature too much. I chose these red flowers because they were bright, beautiful, and different to me, sort of like how this trip was. It was a new experience for me to go to the Arnold Arboretum with my classmates. I truly enjoyed this trip and that I learned more and more about nature and put myself out there. The best part on that Friday was that I was happy and peaceful while walking around the Arboretum.  – Denasia W.
This photo that I took at the Arnold Arboretum reminded me of dark magic because the trees and the fog look like something from a fairy tale. You have  the fog coming out of the darkness from the woods. I have been comparing myself to the fog because I am drifting away from the trees and looking for adventure in life. The fog can symbolize freedom because it can go wherever it wants and that is what I want to do in high school. I want to come out of the darkness from middle school and flourish in light in a new environment here as a freshman at New Mission. – Ijanaya Q. Fog through Pines
New Mission HS teens This picture means many things to me. It shows friendship and happiness all at once. These were the people that I was in a group with for the field trip to the Arnold Arboretum. I talked to new people and made new friends within that group. We had a lot of fun taking different pathways to get to certain places and we shared lots of laughs. I chose this picture because it was my favorite and it showed all these lovely people that I got to know better. – Patricia M.
The photo represents peace and longevity. The pond is a place where you can feel like your problems will just go away. When I was at the Arnold Arboretum, it was fun because I felt free and made new friends. I also had a lot of exercise, which to me was needed. The field trip made people feel free and “alive.” – Rose A. Dawson Pond
Fog surrounding tree My experience at the Arnold Arboretum felt good and exhausting because I got to look at the environment and see amazing things that were interesting. Also, we had to walk around and up hills a lot and we walked a total of 7 miles!  What I learned at the Arnold Arboretum is my fellow classmates’ names. This activity helped build the community because it made people interact with each other and become friends.  – Jayden C.
To me this photo means peace. People see nature as bugs and gross things, but this photo shows that there is beauty in nature. We did a lot of walking, and I learned that going to new places is the key to life.  Also, it’s good to stay fit even if you’re one of those people who barely walk (like me). This field trip helped build the community of our school because it broke people’s shells and helped us become comfortable with each other in nature. – Brittany C. meadow

As the Children’s Education Fellow, I enjoy finding new ways to share the Arnold Arboretum with all students.  At times, finding a way “in” to the lives of urban teens means giving them choices and freedom to make decisions in a beautiful, safe landscape. The freshman students from New Mission High School are well on their way to fulfilling their school’s mission, which states in part “New Mission High School empowers all students to become self-directed, lifelong learners who do well in the world and do well for the world.  In our inclusive, portfolio-based school, our students develop their passion, commitment to learning, habits of mind, and essential skills.” We are happy to have been a part of this new beginning.

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