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Review for Conserve School, Land O Lakes, WI, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Short story:
Amazing state-of-the-art facilities.
Excellent faculty.
Wonderful integrative curriculum.
Outstanding balance of academic rigor and playful exploration.
Warm, caring, capable staff.
Perfect balance of supervised, safe boundaries and expansive pushing beyond comfort zones.
Healthful and delicious meal options (with professional management of allergen-safe protocols).
Magnificently magical forested setting. Expertly-designed, pedestrian-oriented, community-focused campus.
Well-organized and gracefully-shepherded application, enrollment and move-in process.
Abundant fitness, extracurricular, and field trip opportunities.
*Long story*: We first heard of Conserve School through a friend who applied for CS15. Shortly thereafter, we saw English teacher Jeff Rennicke's presentation at the 2017 Lake Superior Youth Symposium, where one of the symposium coordinators and a few of the symposium attendees were Conserve alumni. Meeting those folks sparked my then-9th grader's interest, so we made last-minute arrangements to attend a springtime Prospective Student Day. I hadn't done any research yet, so I had no idea what to expect--maybe a few cabins in the woods? Oh. My. Goodness! I was absolutely blown away by the brilliance of the campus, the faculty, the curriculum, and the community. I have homeschooled my son since the beginning, with the exception of a year at a tiny Waldorf-inspired preschool in our neighborhood. When I brought my reluctant son to his first day of preschool, I assured him I would only ever leave him with the very best folks. When I left the Conserve School Prospective Student Day, I felt 100% confident I could say the exact same thing now to my high schooler. As of October 7, 2018, my son is now seven weeks into CS17, having recently completed a five-day, 54-mile hike in the Trap Hills area of the North Country Trail for "Exploration Week" (the "hardest" of several trip options). Those hikers endured some really tough weather conditions, and still he returned glowing with enthusiasm. My spouse and I just returned from "Family Weekend," where we were able to tag along on Friday classes and enjoy fun activities and visits with our student and other kindred families over the weekend. I was so thrilled to see my son enjoying structured classwork and close connections with new friends. This place is an absolute gem, and the adjacent Sylvania Wilderness is like a mini Boundary Waters with the spirit of ancient forest. I cannot possibly convey the entirety of my gratitude for the staff's expert execution of the founder's hopeful and generous vision. It is obvious that they have put tremendous thought into every aspect of the experience, and they've had enough time to work out the kinks. The only potential drawback here is having to give up certain seasonal sports/clubs/activities (and sending-school friends/community) for four months while wholly focused on the Conserve experience. But it is, without doubt, a commitment worth making. The semester flies by quickly! My only constructive criticism is that much more racial diversity among the board and staff could go a long way toward attracting a more diverse student body, which would enrich the student experience and carry Conserve's mission farther. (Pretty sure the Adventure Gap is already on Conserve School's radar.) Scour the website, read up on the school's mission, review the Student Stories and Staff Stories, check out the virtual tour, and attend a Prospective Student Day if you're able.

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