The quest was an interesting journey
A means of finding things out
Classmates, this town and myself
All of these things I discovered
The history of this town anew
The beautiful sky, oh so blue
The sound of my classmates chatter
And the foliage of a tree that matters,
Just a bit more to me now
Bridges and horses
Brick and stone
A single tree that stands alone
The river crashing on the rocks
The steady way we all walk
Thetford Academy student, reflections after a quest
Scott Ellis, Outdoor Program Coordinator at Thetford Academy, is working with his class in grades 9-12 to create a new quest. This will be the second quest created by Scott and Thetford Academy students. Scott is an experienced quest designer and loves to use Valley Quests as one of his teaching tools. Vital Communities Director of Place-Based Education, Beth Roy, led the students on the Thetford Center Village Quest West. All along the way, Beth taught them about key elements of a quest, pointing out learning moments along the way and asking engaging questions to help prepare the students for their quest-writing journey.
As several of the students shared afterward, they saw some of the familiar places around them with a new perspective after the experience. Going on and designing quests, students develop stronger ties to their community and enhance their appreciation for the natural world. This quest also has two other common elements: architecture and history. The students noticed the built and the natural environment, including clues that hint of economic and cultural activity from decades past. Echos of mills and sheep farming that used to drive the economy of the region in the 1930s and 40s dotted the clues in the quest.
Another student shared a reflection after the trip that expressed the impact these explorations can have: “It’s cool to look at all the old houses along the sides of the main roads and wonder who has lived here? What did the people that lived here once go through? It is cool to think about what the town of Thetford, Vermont, looked like when these houses were first built, how many sheep there were and how many miles of fencing lined the roadsides and open fields. It’s hard to imagine there being not nearly as much woods as there are now and the woods that there was a different-looking forest. It is cool to wonder if these people had these same questions about what it was like before they got here or what it looked like.” We will all have to wait until the new quest is ready to share on the Valley Quest web page to see how this student took his wonder into consideration as he helps to design the new quest with his classmates and their teacher.
Are you interested in learning more about using quests as a teaching tool? Would you like to learn more about how to design a quest with your students? Vital Communities staff is here to support your interest: instruction, resources and tools, field trips and classroom visits (virtually or in person) are just some of the ways we are here to support educators. For more information, contact Gabrielle Smith, Valley Quest Coordinator, at 802.922.4376 and firstname.lastname@example.org.