At Chewonki we have a lot.
Only after a few short days at the beginning of the semester the tight knit community had already started to form. Immediately with those first couple meals everyone could distinguish Constanza Ontaneda, our Spanish teacher’s hysterical laughter from across the dining hall. Teachers at Chewonki are just as essential as each one of the students and Chewonki without our amazing teachers would not be the same Chewonki we have grown to call home. Whenever anyone mentions how little time we have left in our semester, all of us grow silent and everyone gets a gloomy look on their face, sad that these amazing four months are drawing to a close.
Next semester won’t be the same. Our cabins will be filled with other students and our beds will be full despite the fact that we will be living in a completely different world. But mostly Chewonki will be so different, so very different without Constanza, Bill, our wonderfully patient and caring math teacher, Bryce, one of our amazing science teachers who reminds us not to let school get in the way of our education while we’re here and sings us to sleep when she checks us in at night, and last but certainly not least, Laura, who is so enthusiastic about class and who can bring a genuine smile to anyone’s face no matter how down they are about an upcoming math quiz or ethics essay.
Constanza is our Spanish teacher and advisor to Katie, Hannah, and Calypso. In Spanish class, Constanza’s passion for languages really shines through. At any moment she will switch into one of the other six languages she knows and just as easily switch back into Spanish. An Italian accent to your Spanish could very easily be countered with a quick question in Italian. Personally, my Spanish skills have dramatically increased over the past three and half months and I know I have Consti to thank. On Thursday nights Constanza also leads the Spanish language table at dinner where students converse about the day while trying to perfect their conversation skills. Consti also leads soap making workshops at her house almost every weekend. These workshops always lead to fun, laughter filled memories of mixing dangerous chemicals with sweet smelling herbal essences, while sipping tea and giggling hysterically. I visit Consti’s house at least once a week, often on the way to my cabin, or just when I have some free time after lunch and I feel like eating some of Pete’s butterfly plants or seeing the toothpaste or chocolate she spent the weekend making. Chewonki without Constanza will not be the same. We will miss her passion for language, her joyful attitude, the love she shows for all her students and her crazy laugh.
Constanza hiking at Acadia National Park.
Bryce Koukopoulos is one of our Natural History teachers and is an advisor to Grace, Simone, and Emmy. She was also the first teacher I met at Chewonki. On the opening day of the semester she quickly guided me from the CEE where I checked in, to the dining hall, which would soon become one of my favorite places on campus. Though I was way too nervous to eat anything, Bryce made me eat (although I was so nervous that I can’t remember what she eventually got me to eat) before guiding me to my cabin where she left me to meet my cabin mates. On a field trip where we tracked animals in the snow, Bryce led Simone, Victoria, Sally and I on a wild chase around the Neck, eventually showing us the lair of a porcupine and helping us gather quills so we could show them off to the rest of the semester. Thinking of future semesters not being able to go explore the Neck with Bryce makes me sad. We will miss her and the balance she brings to campus greatly.
Laura and Bryce on Opening Day of Semester 50
-Tanner Kamila, Garfield High School, WA
Bill Hinkley is one of two math teachers here, the coordinator of the community service day, and an advisor to two lucky students: Quincy and Isabel. This is sadly his 12th and final year as a teacher on Chewonki Neck. Although he is leaving, he surely won’t be forgotten. How could anybody at Chewonki forget the way his presence could calm an army of stressed out precalculus students? Or the way he can split any piece of wood you hand him with ease? As his advisee, I know that I can go to Bill with any problem I have. Whether I am stressed out about the recent Math quiz, upset about issues at home, or just simply want to go for a walk on the Neck or play a game of cribbage, he’s there for me. Bill has helped enormously with the semester this year. He co-coordinated the Logging weekend with Megan and his draft horse, Russ. He organized the community service weekend with the help of other students, and even worked side by side with Semester 50 student Emmy, as they reconstructed a hoop house for L.O.C.A.L. garden in Bath. Bill has successfully balanced the busy life of Chewonki Neck, whether it be chainsawing with students on Wednesday work program, or helping out with logistics of planning out activities such as the semester trip to Acadia or community service day. Along with Chewonki life, he also manages to balance out being a dad, a husband, and a farmer. At home, Bill runs a blueberry farm, with his wife Amy, and sons Max, Ezra, and Amos. Bill has definitely made his imprint on the folks at Chewonki and will remain in our minds as he tackles his latest adventure: being a public school teacher. Good luck, Bill! Chewonki will miss you.
Bill and his wife Amy at their blueberry farm.
Laura Hartz is our sustainability fellow this year where she shares the classroom with equally goofy, Tom Twist. She helps organize OAP with Mattias and is also an advisor to three lucky students: Isabelle, Pheobe, and Sophie. Laura is one of the four who are sadly leaving us after the semester is over. I don’t think Fridays will be the same for any of the following semesters without Laura’s silly sustainability morning meeting announcements. Her excitement to lead in the classroom and organize OAP astounds us all daily. She can make any lesson fun. For example, this past Friday, we were learning about biodiesel so she had us push her car all the way to the biodiesel shed in order to give us a real life example of how much energy it takes gasoline to travel a quarter of a mile. After we arrived, we made biodiesel ourselves. Now that’s what I call class! Her spunky, adorable personality always seems to make us smile on our most stressed out days. And we know we can always count on her to crack the “funniest” of jokes at the beginning of every Sustainability class. Her love for living a more sustainable lifestyle has got us all thinking about the impact we could have in our hometowns. Sustainability and announcement won’t be the same without your creativity and enthusiasm. We sure will miss you, Laura!
– Izzy Ruffin, Penquis Valley High School, ME