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Finding Stability on the Block Plan

Meg DeMarsh ‘19

Major: English Literature

 

I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life; I’ve grown up on green chili, Subaru Outbacks, snow, and sunsets. And although the mountains were a frequent weekend activity, they were just as easily a backdrop. I legitimately, and I know this sounds like an exaggeration, had no idea how much I took the mountains for granted until I came to CC. I remember meeting my freshman year roommate and her saying, “How lucky are we to go to school in the mountains!” I thought it was a joke. Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, the ski towns, those were my mountains. Colorado Springs just happened to be close to them.

As I met more and more students, everyone commented on it: “Don’t the mountains look so pretty today?” or “Hey! Have you seen the mountains today?” I thought eventually the mystification would wear off, that everyone would get used to them, but into block three and four the comments persisted. I’d walk to my History class on the top floor of Palmer, and I’d just look at the mountains, trying to see what everyone else saw. And on the fourth or fifth day, I finally got it: We do go to school in the mountains. I have seen how beautiful they are today. We are so lucky to live here.

I think what CC does really well is attract a student body that is incredibly present. When I visited CC for the first time what I loved most was the students. I had never encountered a place where people were more authentically themselves. Every person I met was a genuine reflection of who they really were, even if that was messy, or confused, or not fully-formed. I wanted to be surrounded by people who weren’t afraid to take ownership over the person that they are, in their journey to become the person they want to be. And I think that’s what CC has taught me most: to be present. Presence allows for personal growth and reflection but also for real, authentic experiences. It allows me to acknowledge the mountains but also see and be a part of them.

This past weekend I hiked the Manitou Springs Incline. Located 15 minutes outside of Colorado Springs, students spend their Saturday and Sunday mornings tackling the feat. Although only a mile long, the trail has a 2,000 ft elevation gain and, to state it plainly, is extremely hard. I’ve postponed plans to do the hike at least three times because of its notorious difficulty. But, I’ll be graduating in May, so for the sake of embracing senior year, I decided to try.

 

And it was actually kind of great. There was a woman that passed my friends and I as we were hiking up. We were chatting about weekend plans and thesis projects, and most likely the frozen yogurt that we were going to have on our way down, when she came up to us: “Girls, look around you,” she said, “How lucky are we to live in a place like this?” And it made me think of freshman year, and our oddly spacious dorm room in South Hall, and walks to Palmer for class, and weekend ski trips, and excursions to Downtown for Josh and John’s ice cream. And although its nostalgic and sentimental, it’s also true. We are so lucky to live here.

I made it through the hike, thank goodness. And I came back Saturday afternoon with a few things to say (It’s 2,744 steps so I had a lot of time to think this one through). First, working in the Admissions Office, I receive a lot of questions about how to achieve stability on the block plan. When your class changes ever three and a half weeks, how can a student find constancy. And I think that’s a fair question. We do things deeply here at Colorado College, but we also do them efficiently, and that sometimes means moving from one subject to the next fairly quickly. But I think there are things that stabilize us. Although our classes may change, we are bonded under this mutual system. We are grounded in Colorado Springs, under these mountains.

Yet there is something about CC’s location that also differentiates us. Our location takes our learning outside the classroom. It informs our curriculum, informs our extracurricular involvement, and informs the students that come here. We find consistency through our studies but also outside of our studies, through the people, and clubs, and experiences that exist beyond the CC classroom.  The mountains are a physical force which grounds me to this place, to these people, and to the world around me. And they’re pretty beautiful too.

Pictures Provided By: Zascha Fox