Echo Hill: A Lesson in Gratitude and Unity

By Sophie H. ’24
Photos by The Chaperone Shutterbugs

On a cold Tuesday morning, the Class of 2024 set off on a four-day adventure to Echo Hill Outdoor School, on the Chesapeake Bay in Worton, Md. Though it was early, everyone was energetic, excited, and curious about the possibilities that our last Middle School overnight trip would hold. Before we knew it, the bus was filled and the sound of 50 kids chattering filled the space. After two hours on the bus, the roads became windier and we became more and more restless. Pretty soon, everyone rose from their seats and pointed to a sign that read, “Echo Hill Outdoor School: Celebrating More than 40 Years!” That sign stood as a reminder to all of us of the hundreds of LCDS students who had taken the same trip in years past.

Right when we got off the bus, the activities began. We started off playing a form of sharks and minnows as group. By the end of the game, everyone was smiling and laughing together. It was like we had left all of our stress back at home and were able to escape and just have fun.

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Next, we headed to our cabins and then Harris Hall for lunch. Every table sat six students and one counselor or teacher. The counselors explained how at each meal a “biddy” must be selected to tend to the food and dishes for the table. The first couple of meals, no one seemed too enthusiastic about taking the job, but by our last meal, there was an outright competition over for the opportunity to wait on the table.

We all enjoyed our lunch and just when we were preparing to get up and leave, we were introduced to two new activities that would quickly become tradition. The first consisted of collecting and weighing the table’s wasted food. Food waste hadn’t been a big priority for us in our day-to-day lives, but once we arrived at Echo Hill, that changed. After every meal, we weighed the slop bucket and were encouraged to think about the resources needed to produce the food that we had helped ourselves to and then didn’t eat. The second ritual was a repeat-after-me-do-as-I-do song. The songs were fun, over the top, and just downright hilarious. They brought our group together in a lively and exciting way.

After each meal, we found out what activity our tribe was participating in that day and which counselors would be guiding us. These adventures ranged from team-building exercises to studying marine life in the Chesapeake. But of everything we experienced, there was quite literally nothing that could top the tower.

Standing almost five stories tall, the massive structure was the highlight of the trip for many of us. It offered the perfect balance of teamwork, encouraging each other, and forcing you out of your comfort zone. It didn’t matter if you made it to the top or not; all that mattered was that you gave it your best effort and felt supported as you did.

As our time came to a close at Echo Hill, we all gathered for one final hurrah to leave our mark on this trip. We played games, sang songs, and talked about our experience.

Through these exchanges, it became clear that Echo Hill will be an event of lasting meaning for our class. Through simple activities, our grade bonded in myriad ways, getting to know one another on a deeper level. We all realized how important it is to be grateful for the opportunity we have to go to a school like LCDS and to be surrounded by such exceptional peers and teachers. And though our time at Echo Hill was short, I know the memories we made there will endure for a very long time.

The Straight Dope on Refreshing Mountain

By Keira A. ’25
Photos by The Chaperone Shutterbugs

The seventh grade field trip was a lot of things. But one of the things it was not was forgettable. Many memories were made, some good some bad; many activities were so fun, others less so.

The first day we arrived an hour or so before lunch. We were assigned our rooms and finally the anticipation was over: We found out who our roommates were.

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We got a chance to unpack and settle in before some pre-lunch games. After we ate, we split into three groups for two team-building exercises. The first was a physical challenge with 34 separate parts that we had to divide up and conquer. The second was geocaching, where we had to use GPS to navigate to specific coordinates to find information that we recorded on a sheet.

After our activities we had time to ourselves before dinner and then the gym to play kickball and dodgeball. Curfew was at ten o’clock and we had to be at breakfast by eight.

The second day started with archery, using a slingshot, and a giant swing. While the first two are self-explanatory, the last one isn’t. The giant swing is where you get hooked into a harness to which two ropes are then attached. One of the ropes your teammates will pull to raise you up; the other rope is what you swing by.

Lunch separated the morning and afternoon.

The afternoon activities were pedal carts, zip lining, and reptile and amphibian center; which were all shortened to 45 minutes since it was raining that day, which made it not as enjoyable.

The third day saw us head to our last activities, which were the rock wall, obstacle course, and reptiles and amphibians (a different reptiles and amphibians from the day before).

We ate our last meal, then hopped on the bus and went back to school to be picked up by our parents.

A Thoroughly Considered ‘Blithe Spirit’

“Oh my God, I’m dying,” proclaimed Kristin Wolanin, with the buoyancy of someone positively effervescing with life. She then clarified, “It’s just my usual tailspin that happens around this time before every show.”

This was actually the second tailspin that this year’s fall production had induced in the director. The first was over the selection of the play itself. A confluence of factors large and small forced Wolanin to switch from her first choice to her second, and then from her second to panic.

As befits a dramatist who found herself “in the booth tearing my hair out,” deus ex machina took the form of a long-forgotten memory and Wolanin snatched inspiration from the jaws of hopelessness.

“Oh,” she recalled thinking. “‘Blithe Spirit!’ We’re going to do Noël Coward and everyone’s going to love it!”

 

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Everyone will get a chance to prove Wolanin right when the curtain rises on the English playwright’s 1941 comedy centering on a séance gone wrong, leaving a widowed and remarried novelist haunted by one, then a second, ill-tempered ex-wife.

The showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday Nov. 14, 15, and 16, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. Advanced tickets are $7 and available here, or $10 at the door.

“This is a wonderful show for students to step up and showcase their talents,” Wolanin said. “Every cast member is in a role that’s totally different from anything they’ve done before, which has forced them to stretch out and really display their growth as actors.”

“The audience has to come ready to listen,” Wolanin continued. “A lot of the play is sitting and talking” and the dialog is dense with jokes that Wolanin described as “‘Frasier’ humor.” To properly deliver English upper crust jokes, the cast had to memorize and deliver their lines with an English accent.

Of all the areas in which the show required the actors to stretch themselves, elocution presented the stretchiest challenge.

“We’ve had some repeat offenders,” Wolanin said. “Been. Not. Those have been especially tricky for the kids.” But if her troupe can perform Shakespeare with American accents, why can’t they do the same with Noël Coward?

“You could,” Wolanin said, “but there’s a flavor that you’d lose. With this play especially, there’s comedy in the delivery of the words, in how they sound, that means you have to say them a certain way if you want to it to be funny.

“We want it to be funny, so we’ve put in the work to make sure it sounds right,” she said.

While the cast is all Upper Schoolers, the crew has both Middle and Upper Schoolers, with students in grades 6-12 helping bring “Blithe Spirit” to life. In addition, Wolanin’s former student and current assistant project manager at ATOMIC Design, Adam Curry, has lent his talents to the production as technical director.

Wolanin called the show “a great break from reality,” and its popularity has endured since its West End debut more than 75 years ago.

This would have come as no surprise to Coward, who didn’t want for confidence in his play. After German bombs had leveled his office and apartment in the Blitz, he headed to the Welsh coast for a brief working holiday.

“For six days I worked from eight to one each morning and from two to seven each afternoon. On Friday evening, May ninth, the play was finished and, disdaining archness and false modesty, I will admit that I knew it was witty, I knew it was well constructed, and I also knew that it would be a success,” Coward wrote.

Wolanin picked up the thought: “The kids are amazing and it’s going to be awesome.”

 


 

The LCDS Theater Company Presents “Blithe Spirit”

Cast

Charles Condomine — Christopher M.
Ruth Condomine — Malia C.
Elvira — Mae B.
Madame Arcati — Amelia L.
Dr. George Bradman — Adam M.
Violet Bradman — Tess M. & Maya R. (Understudy — Peachy L.)
Edith — Laura B. (Understudy — Peachy L.)

Crew

Production Stage Manager — Joan M.
Assistant Stage Managers — Charley W. & Adrien W.
Sound Designers — Hayden F. & Ben K.
Sound Run — Hayden F. & Ben K.
Props Mistresses and Run: Gaby N. & Linnea W.
Props Crew — Keira A., Mira H., & Litty C.
Props Run — Mira H.
Assistant TD —Riley E.
Deck Carpenter – Run — Riley E.
Set Crew/Stage Crew — Keira A., Renie C., Laurel M., Ruby N., & Frannie T.
Publicity Chief — Charley W.
Publicity Crew — Raphael A. & Ben K.
Costume Mistress/Master and Run — Julia N. & Theo Z.
Costume Crew — Lianne H. & Rebecca M.
Costume Run — Renie C., Lianne H., Laurel M., Rebecca M., & Frannie T.
Master Electrician and Run — Justin K.
Lighting Crew — Rebecca M.
Box Office Manager and Run — William H.
Box Office Assistant and Run — Noah S.
House Manager and Run — Sarah H.
Assistant House Manager and Run — Eli H.
Ushers — Keira A., Waasae A., Raphael A., Litty C., Rohan K., Ruby N., & Morgan T.

Halloween: A Festival on Parade

Be warned: The following slideshow contains images of adorable, costumed children, as well as graphic depictions of hand-holding, water balloon-throwing, and donut-dangling-from-a-yardstick eating. If you find any of these things irresistible, Cougar News strongly urges you to prepare to smile. Special thanks as always to Donna Wilcox and everyone who shared their photos.

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