Another Semester Outdoors

by Chloe Kiparsky

Ouray High School’s Outdoor Education class, a class that most schools aren’t able to offer, was a giant success this fall, offering a chance for students to get more in touch with nature and each other. The teacher, Mr. Chiang, outlined the following goals for the course: “for students to find at least one outdoor passion, to develop an interest and respect for the wilderness, and to have fun challenging themselves and working with their friends.” 

This course brings students on a new adventure every class period. This fall, the units were Wilderness Skills/First Aid, Paddleboarding, Canyoning, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, Nordic Skiing, and Ice Climbing.

Along with some of my classmates, I was hesitant to join the class originally because of its time commitment: a 1.5 hour class period every other day, plus often our lunch hour, and occasionally bleeding into the last period of the day. But those feelings disappeared immediately once we had done our first excursion: paddleboarding at the Ridgway Reservoir.

After realizing that the class was going to be fun and that Mr. Chiang was going to make sure we were safe, we all dove headfirst into the activities. Paddleboarding started the semester with a splash, creating fond memories for all of us. Canyoning felt rewarding as we rappelled down waterfalls and explored parts of Ouray we would not otherwise see. Ice climbing, a passion of mine for many years, was a delight to share with friends. 

The course also strengthened our social connections. “My favorite part was being able to bond with everyone in the class and we just felt like a little family,” said junior Maryjane Cervone fondly. Whether we were playing hide and seek in the snow, belaying each other on cliffsides, or gearing up in the classroom while cracking jokes, we always enjoyed each other’s presence.

When someone’s life is literally in your hands - as it was during all the climbing days, we could not help but feel a connection to them. Students felt closer and closer as the course progressed. “You just gotta have a good connection with your group to have fun, you know?” reflected sophomore Jesus Sandoval, “It takes a whole team and that’s a team we have. We had a great group.”

Students describe Outdoor Ed. as one of the best classes they have ever taken, and recommend it eagerly to their friends. “Be open to new opportunities and be willing to try new things even if it’s scary,” counsels sophomore Ella Skoloda “because you will have fun, and you will be safe, and it's just a good time!” 

There were so, so many memories made during this semester-long class that are impossible to put into words, let alone an article. But you know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so check out the photo album HERE!!


Fall 2022 Outdoor Education Photos