In Paul Lehmann’s Dublin School 1935-1970, he writes: “Often, I said to one of my Work Gangs, as we called them, ‘This is the most important course in the school!’ For many it was, for they had had much exposure to stylized, restricted, keep-off-the-grass, urban or suburban living. Not that it was their fault. Just circumstances. Almost all became interested in the multiplicity of possibilities in building a small, developing school in an undeveloped countryside…Besides the gainful aspects of each new endeavor was the possibility of learning something useful, new, interesting.”
Well, thirty-six years after the publication of Mr. Lehmann’s book, we’re still calling them Work Gangs, and we still have many students who arrive on campus without much prior experience working outdoors. Last Saturday morning, we initiated our unsuspecting newcomers into this school tradition with an energetic All-School Work Gang. The two major projects consisted of planting an apple orchard on the slope down to Alumni Field, and creating a trail between the art studio and the summit of the Norm Wight Ski Slope.
The Senior class took ownership of the apple orchard, planting twelve apple trees, six blueberry bushes, and four pear trees, with the help of trustee, Sharron Smith P ’92. The Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors worked on the trail, clearing rocks and brush to create a space for biking, walking, snowshoeing, and running.
These intense projects culminated in an all-school gathering at the head of the new trail, behind the art studio, which Mr. Bates dedicated to trustee, Peter Imhoff.
As for the students, not only had they acquired a proficiency in dislodging boulders, but they learned how to create new spaces on our campus: spaces for exercising, exploring, and growing, which they can be proud of for years to come.