Students passed the time at the Environmental Learning Center doing science and natural history-based games and exercises, including an impromptu lesson in taxidermy. Dead birds from the region are donated to North Cascades Institute, who uses them for educational and interpretive purposes in their science lab. (Joshua Porter / North Cascades Institute)

Students passed the time at the Environmental Learning Center doing science and natural history-based games and exercises, including an impromptu lesson in taxidermy. Dead birds from the region are donated to North Cascades Institute, who uses them for educational and interpretive purposes in their science lab. (Joshua Porter / North Cascades Institute)

Learning doesn’t stop for students stranded by snowslide

MILL CREEK — The 42 students from Henry M. Jackson High School expected a fun field trip in the mountains.

They got a bit more than that when an avalanche closed Highway 20 on March 10, turning a three-day excursion into an extended stay in the north Cascades. The students spent the weekend in the mountains, returning Monday.

The trip was to the North Cascades Institute’s Environmental Learning Center for Mountain School, a well-regarded educational program that teaches students about the ecosystem, geology and the natural and cultural history of the mountains.

Alex Hamm, a junior taking Advanced Placement Environmental Science, said the road closure was a reality check, in that it demonstrated that people couldn’t control everything around them.

“I was a little annoyed I think, but I couldn’t be mad because there was nothing to be mad at,” Hamm said.

But he didn’t fret.

“I never felt worried at any point about my safety or the safety of others,” Hamm said. “First thing they told us was, ‘Don’t worry about food, we have three months’ worth.’”

The staff at the institute was quick to coordinate with the five teachers and two parent chaperones. They drew up an itinerary for the next few days, said Gail Walters, who teaches the Environmental Systems Design class at Jackson High.

“They’re well-prepared for situations like that,” Walters said.

Those activities included using the institute’s microscope lab, a “mini-Olympics” with games like spoon-egg relays, exercise classes and a lesson in taxidermy.

“There was a lot of donated birds to the park that had unknown accidents,” said junior Trevor Cease.

The students were taught how to cut open the birds, remove the meat, treat the carcass with borax, insert an artificial body, then sew the bird back up, he said.

The meat was thrown into the woods for other animals, Cease said.

The students also took part in a “trash-ion show.”

“You had to use recycled material to make someone in your group look fabulous,” Cease said.

Some of the students also staged a mock trial from the Dr. Seuss book, “The Lorax.” Cease played the Once-ler, the story’s villain.

“I ended up being found guilty and sentenced to life in prison,” he said.

Walters said the only real worry was that some students needed to take daily medications. The weather wouldn’t allow the medicines to be flown in.

“They hiked them in,” Walters said. “Again, the staff and the National Park Service came through.”

The state Department of Transportation was able to clear one lane of Highway 20 on Monday, allowing two buses to pick up the kids and bring them back to the school.

Hamm said it was only a little nerve-wracking to ride the bus back through the slide area.

He enjoyed the extended trip, but also was glad to get back home.

“It was just nice having junk food and food that I kind of like to eat,” Hamm said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Owners of Feedme Hospitality get together with Edmonds Chamber of Commerce staff to hand off a check that helped with costs of putting on the Edmonds Kind of 4th annual Independence Day celebration. The money came from lemonade stand sales. In the photo are Andrew Leckie, Shubert Ho, Greg Urban, Erica Sugg and Alicia Moreno.  (Edmonds Chamber of Commerce)
Way to go

Lemonade stand raised $2,350 for An Edmonds Kind of 4th The Feedme… Continue reading

Mukilteo Council candidates (top L-R): Louis Harris, Peter Zieve, Tina Over, Ayesha Riaz Khan, Kevin Stoltz; (bottom L-R): Caitlein Ryan, Tom Jordal, Steve Schmalz, Tim Ellis, Carolyn “Dode” Carlson, Alex Crocco.
11 candidates in races for 3 seats on Mukilteo City Council

New and familiar names will face off in the primary to narrow the field to six for the November election.

COVID-19 case reported at crowded Lynnwood council meeting

A person who attended the Monday meeting tested positive for the coronavirus just days later.

Carlo Ponte (Rebecca Ponte) 20210729
‘Endangered’ Marysville toddler missing for almost 3 weeks

Jorge Ponte picked up his son for a scheduled visit July 10. Then they disappeared.

Abuse claims settled; Catholic principal worked in Everett

The allegations are from Sister Dolores Crosby’s time at a Seattle school from 1979 to 1992.

Ten people were injured in a three-vehicle rollover crash Sunday afternoon that closed both directions of U.S. 2. (Washington State Patrol)
10 people hurt in three-vehicle crash on U.S. 2 near Monroe

A 14-year-old was taken to Harborview Medical Center, plus six more Everett and Monroe hospitals.

$500,000 available for Edmonds nonprofits

Organizations can apply for Edmonds Rescue Plan funds until Aug. 20.

Top row (L-R): Lacey Sauvageau, Don Schwab, Jacob L. Vail. Bottom row (L-R): Demi Chatters, Kelly Fox, Ben Zarlingo.
Wave of first-time candidates who seek Everett council posts

Three people in each of two races are running to represent the city’s newly formed Districts 3 and 5.

Temporary Lake Stevens Library to open this summer

The location will serve as the Sno-Isle branch until the proposed civic center campus is complete.

Most Read