Mountain Shadows School hosts Olympic Studies Night

Sixth grader Nampreet Landis studied mythical creatures across different cultures.

Sixth grader Nampreet Landis studied mythical creatures across different cultures. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Sixth-grader Nora Blair displays the taxidermied squirrel she helped create for her project on taxidermy.

Sixth-grader Nora Blair displays the taxidermied squirrel she helped create for her project on taxidermy. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

First-grader North Gurses checks on his homemade butterbeer at his “Harry Potter” display. 

First-grader North Gurses checks on his homemade butterbeer at his “Harry Potter” display.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Levi McLean displays his hand-built fighting robots.

Levi McLean displays his hand-built fighting robots. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Fifth-grader Enoch Ashfar, right, dishes out samples of Persian cooking to (from left) Phil Petrov, Anna Petrova, Jace McLean and Jill McLean.

Fifth-grader Enoch Ashfar, right, dishes out samples of Persian cooking to (from left) Phil Petrov, Anna Petrova, Jace McLean and Jill McLean. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Seventh=grader Hailey Masterson, far left, studied barrel racing. 

Seventh=grader Hailey Masterson, far left, studied barrel racing.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Third-grader Scarlett Reimer, who studied Frida Kahlo, created and served Kahlo’s favorite dessert. 

Third-grader Scarlett Reimer, who studied Frida Kahlo, created and served Kahlo’s favorite dessert.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Sixth-grader Nora Blair’s display on the art of taxidermy. 

Sixth-grader Nora Blair’s display on the art of taxidermy.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Seventh-grader Calvin Aldrich studied comets, a breed of  goldfish. 

Seventh-grader Calvin Aldrich studied comets, a breed of  goldfish.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Mountain Shadows parents and community came to the school’s annual Olympic Studies night on Thursday at Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride.

Mountain Shadows parents and community came to the school’s annual Olympic Studies night on Thursday at Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride. STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

 Sixth-grader Nora Blair displays “Scratch,” a squirrel she helped taxidermy. 

 Sixth-grader Nora Blair displays “Scratch,” a squirrel she helped taxidermy.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Seventh-grader Imogen Evans Jones explains falconry to Mountain Shadows teacher Sam Faller. 

Seventh-grader Imogen Evans Jones explains falconry to Mountain Shadows teacher Sam Faller.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Mountain Shadows School’s annual all-school Olympic Studies Night returned to Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride Thursday night. 

Mountain Shadows School’s annual all-school Olympic Studies Night returned to Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride Thursday night.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript 

Published: 04-22-2024 11:37 AM

Modified: 04-23-2024 10:20 AM


According to Temple Brighton, one of the co-founders of Mountain Shadows School, the school’s Olympic Studies Night was inspired by the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. 

“There was so much energy around those Olympics, and all this excitement, and everyone just wanted it to keep going,” Brighton recalled. “So we said, ‘Well, the point is of the Olympics is to be your absolute best at something. Why not do that with school?’ ” 

The school’s latest Olympic Studies Night – a celebration of the its annual six-week independent-study period – took place Thursday night in the lodge at Crotched Mountain Ski and Ride. 

“It is always an amazing night,” said Casey Jones, assistant head of school. “We just love seeing what the students will come up with every year.”  

Brighton, Jones and the other faculty developed the concept of Olympic Studies, where each student would choose one topic to study in-depth for six weeks and then present about the topic at an annual celebration. Jones says the most-challenging part is finding mentors for every student.

“There have been a few that were really tough,” Jones said. “We had a child who wanted to do professional clowning, and it took a while to find someone who could mentor that student, but in the end, we found two people right here in Dublin who had experience in professional clowning.”

Every Mountain Shadows student from kindergarten to eighth grade takes part in Olympic Studies. Each year, as Olympic Studies draws close, students meet with Brighton to discuss their ideas for this year’s project. Students can partner with a friend, but no more than two children can work together.  Brighton said she has never said no to a topic.

“Sometimes we have to talk a little bit about the best way to study a subject, or what angle we are going to take,” Brighton said. “If a child wants to study something like weapons, for example, we look at history, or the physics.”

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Brighton said students occasionally try to shock her, and are surprised when she doesn’t say no.

“I just ask them to tell me more about their idea and how they plan to do that topic, and they usually end up changing their minds on their own,” Brighton said.

Topics range from the general, such as art or baking, to the specific, such as Elvis or extrasolar planets.

Anne Pelletier, who has taught at Mountain Shadows since her own children attended the school in the 1990s, said the logistics of the getting the projects set up can be challenging. She credits Matt Garabant, who takes care of the Mountain Shadows campus and mentors numerous students each year, with figuring out how to get each project safely to Olympic Studies night.

“We’ve had some really large projects,” Pelletier said. “We’ve had a trebuchet. We’ve had a lot of skis and machinery. We’ve had projects that are very fragile, or involve water. We’ve had live animals.”

Pelletier said one of her favorite topics was gum. Brighton said one of her all-time favorite topics was meatballs, and Jones remembered the time a student did an entire Olympic Studies project on “that gummy rubbery stuff that holds subscription cards or perfume samples into magazines.” 

Teacher Sam Faller, who attended Mountain Shadows, said he clearly recalled his very first project as a kindergartner. 

“It was ‘Sewing and Estimation,’ ” Faller said. “I sewed a teddy bear, and then I stuffed it with beans and tried to guess  how many were in there. I kept the bear until the beans sprouted.”

One year, a student studied Olympic Studies, and counted up the range of topics over the years.

“I’m not 100% sure, but I think the all-time favorite subject was chickens,” Jones said.