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Larchmont Student Learns Demands of Farm Life in Rural Vermont

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- For four months, students like Ellen Rote’s daily chores consisted of collecting eggs, feeding and cleaning barn animals and other outdoor-related activities atypical of a Larchmont resident.

Rote, a junior at School of the Holy Child in Rye, was one of 45 high school students from across the country selected for a 16-week program at The Mountain School in rural Vermont. There, students take advanced and honors classes that relate to the outdoors, while experiencing farm life first hand.

"Every student has a daily chore," Rote said. "One week you might gather eggs or help make breakfast. Other weeks you might clean or feed the barn animals. It teaches you responsibility."

The goal is to teach students how to balance school with the demands of farm life, and to build self-confidence

"My time at The Mountain School has encouraged me to embrace new experiences," Rote said. "I realize that certain things that I thought I wouldn't be able to do on my own, I did."

Courses include English, environmental science and math to name a few. Depending on what is needed each day, students like Rote found themselves harvesting vegetables, splitting wood, moving hay, spreading compost in the garden or maintaining the buildings and property.

"The Mountain School experience is for some of the country's best academic and well-rounded kids," said Colm MacMahon, head of Holy Child's Upper School. "The program is intellectually, physically and emotionally demanding."

Rote recently returned to School of the Holy Child able to look back proudly on her experience.

"It was incredible," Rote said. "I learned so much."

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