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Letter: HMS principal says ‘Thanks’ for Eagle Bluff trip

To the editor,

This past week the eighth grade class from Hastings Middle School experienced our 16th consecutive trip to Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center near Lanesboro. The trip would not be possible without funding by Sharon Avent, the CEO and owner of Smead Manufacturing. Over the years, there have been more than 6,000 students who have experienced this adventure because of the generosity of Ms. Avent.

The lessons about environmental responsibility, team work, problem solving and individual risk taking are impossible to replicate within the walls of a traditional school setting. Students challenge themselves to take risks on the “tree tops” high ropes course. They work together to solve problems as a team in the group challenges course. They take a step back in time and experience the life of the Oneota Native Americans and early European pioneers. There are outdoor experience classes in GPS, competitive orienteering, archery and winter survival. In the evenings the students build a dream catcher, enjoy a night hike and are entertained with songs and stories around the campfire.

The chaperones for the trip are composed of school staff, parents and community members that take time out of their busy life to accompany our eighth graders. One special memory occurred this year that is a fabulous example of generosity and community spirit. Our long-time security guard, Bruce Gaylor, has been a volunteer chaperone several years for the trip. This year, his eighth grade grandson, Logan Gaylor, was on the trip. Logan’s father, Alan Gaylor, was also a volunteer chaperone. The three generations of this Hastings family commemorated their close relationship to Eagle Bluff by gifting a hand-made sculpture of an eagle landing on a branch. The Sculpture was designed and created by Bruce Gaylor.

Remember, Logan is only one of the 6,000 students that have experienced this unprecedented adventure because of Ms. Avent’s generosity. The eighth-graders of Hastings Middle School certainly had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Thank you Sharon.