An important part of the Chewonki experience is the common spaces. We have many, including the Ellis room, the Wallace Center, and the pottery studio. I use all of these spaces almost every day. I’m in the Wallace for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the Ellis room for math class; and the pottery studio for, of course, pottery. As a community, we (including faculty!) maintain these spaces. In the two weeks I’ve been here, I’ve had ‘dish crew’ thrice, each time cleaning dishes, organizing silverware, and mopping the floor in the Wallace. Dish crew is certainly a high-stress environment, with steam, sound, and speed, yet I find myself looking forward to it. It is both a sense of duty, after dropping off dirty plates for days, and a sense of camaraderie, working with six other students to scrub, soap, and sort the dishes of sixty-plus people. We also sweep and mop, leaving the Wallace spick-and-span for everyone’s use until the next dish crew. There are three dish crews a day, and six student crews plus one of faculty and staff, which typically does lunch.
Every day, on the way to my own chore, I walk past my friend and cabin-mate Jon Hosch, who is currently assigned to cleaning the stairs adjacent to the Ellis room. Soon, chores will rotate, and at some point I too will get a chance to clean the stairs.
Unlike these spaces, the pottery room has no assigned maintainer. No single person is responsible for the cleanliness of the room. The pottery room is also particularly prone to mess, as clay dries into a fine powder, which both sticks to surfaces and presents a respiratory hazard. I’ve never found anyone cleaning the room when I enter. When I went to check my pieces this afternoon, not only was there no dust in the air, but the studio almost sparkled. Despite the fact that pottery is a messy business and time-consuming to clean up, the pottery room is always clean. At least a couple people use it every day (I used it for hours this past week to work on a teapot), and they invariably clean it perfectly and efficiently. If one of the various anonymous users of the room were to not clean, we would never know who it was. Yet, I have never found it dirty.
-Noah Cowie, Hanover High School, New Hampshire
Learn more about Chewonki Semester School work program on our website, chewonki.org/semester.