News Archives

Head's April Message

April 8, 2015

Abbott_091012_228.jpgTwo of the great pillars of Burroughs over the last 90 years have been the athletic program and the love of nature. Both are quite visible throughout the school and program. I am happy to announce that those two pillars are coming together in a partnership that should result in greater opportunities and experiences for all of our students through a truly enhanced outdoor education program.

While the outdoor education program at Burroughs has been alive and well for decades, in recent years it had been primarily a student-driven club. But beginning in the 2015-16 school year, students in grades 9-12 will be able to take outdoor education to fulfill one season of their athletic requirement each year. The program will be overseen and orchestrated by a team of teachers, led by Michael Dee, who will return to the Burroughs faculty.

What Mr. Dee has planned is remarkable. There will be a number of morning or afternoon activities that are relatively simple — tree climbing on campus, learning to kayak in the pool or taking excursions to local climbing walls. But there will also be day-long and multiple-day activities that are vastly more elaborate — rock-climbing excursions to southern Illinois, bouldering at Elephant Rock, caving and paddling excursions, overnight backpacking and float trips, and service trips to Drey Land. Students involved in the program will become deeply familiar with the outdoor opportunities presented by our region.

Mr. Dee graduated from Burroughs in 1976 and was a member of the English Department from 1991 until last spring. Over the years he has been involved in virtually every aspect of experiential education at Burroughs, from teaching orienteering and leading treks at Drey Land to leading trail-cutting expeditions for senior May Projects in southern Missouri’s Pioneer Forest to floating down the Mississippi Huck Finn-style with his students to establishing our bee colonies and our gardens on campus. During his time away, he has grown even more deeply involved in his passion for outdoor education, earning his Wilderness First Responder degree, competing in slalom and downriver races in the Missouri Whitewater Championships, completing a technical tree-climbing facilitator course, and climbing Mt. Ranier.

I could not be more excited about this new development at Burroughs. Over the years, as we have built on the roots that named our school after a great nineteenth century naturalist, we have grown more and more committed to the environment. We season with herbs and cook with vegetables that we grow in our garden. We build new LEED-certified buildings. We produce no trash in our dining room (virtually everything is compostable). We use discarded cooking oil to make the biodiesel fuel that powers our tractors and our super-high-mileage vehicle. … Our students are more and more aware of sustainability issues, and they seem very excited about the possibility of tying their health and fitness to the outdoors.

— Andy Abbott