Scheibe: Inside LA Mountain Day

Monadnock, Lawrence Academy, Mountain Day

Allie Goodrich ’13, part of the LA summit team on Mount Monadnock, captured this early morning picture from the peak.

Groton, MA — This morning, before boarding “Bucky” buses and traveling to New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock, Head of School Dan Scheibe reminded the Lawrence Academy community of the history of the long-standing tradition that is LA Mountain Day.

Brandishing a story from a student publication in 1879 — or 138-years ago — Dan spoke of a time without cars, digital technology, and media.

“But if you just listen to the words that they use to describe the experience they’ve had… there’s some similar elements to it,” he said of the 1879 trip to Mount Wachusett, which was made by wagon to the top of that peak; to which the head joked “is kind of cheating…”

Mr. Scheibe read a passage from the story that mentioned the beauty of the trip to the mountain; “the soft air of the early  morning, the song of the birds – the ripple of the brooks along the roadside.”

All familiar sights and sounds that the ancient author said, “combined to put [the community] in the highest spirits” even before they achieved the summit.

Clearly this is the desire of the community since the beginnings of Mountain Day – shared phyical experience, which re-orients the school collectively.

But there’s more to it…

“‘From the top…'” said Mr. Scheibe (alternating cleanly between orator and narrator), “where it’s a totally shared experience because we’re ‘unplugged’ up there. ‘We seated ourselves and gazed around us, around the horizon at the chain of hills and towns and villages laid at our feet. Here and there a river winding in and out of the trees added to the beauty of the scene and with a spyglass, the ships in Boston harbor could be seen.'”

Dan concluded that today’s mix of clouds and sunshine would prove that feat difficult, but “on a clear day from Mount Monadnock, you can see the skyline of Boston.” However, it’s not the spires of the city that draws the LA community up Mount Monadnock.

“There’s something good that happens when you get outside,” explained Dan. “There’s something that happens to your spirits.

“It’s hard to resist — in the company of people — this feeling of being right in your heart, and just having a different kind of quality to the way you feel inside.”

For a school whose mission begins, “Lawrence Academy recognizes you for who you are and inspires you to take responsibility for who you want to become,” the ability to look inwardly, even as students look to interact with the world outwardly, resonates at LA.

And it’s why daily mindfulness practice intermingles with annual rites like climbing a mountain in an effort to serve both the mind and body.

“And, as a school… we care very much about your ‘condition’ inside,” concluded Mr. Scheibe.