2014 Upper School Intersessions

Last Updated: Wed., March 26, 10:00 am. Be sure to refresh/reload the page, as updates continue to be posted!

Intersession is a one to two-week period in the spring in which the School’s normal routine is interrupted so that all students and faculty can participate in special projects. All Upper School students are required to participate each year. Intersession projects might involve community service, physical activity, arts activity, cultural or informational trips.

This year, students will participating in some incredible trips, including:
WEST VIRGINIA SERVICE (Service Intersession)
HEAD START (Service Intersession)
EXPLORING THE PATUXENT (Service Intersession)

This page will be updated with news and photos from the Intersession trips. You may need to refresh/reload the page in your browser to view the most recent updates. If you click on the thumbnail images, you can view the larger-sized ones.


Some of our international Intersession trips extend beyond the week into Spring Break. Below are updates from the Ireland and Morocco trips. Also, as some trips had very spotty wi-fi service out in the field, I am just now getting some of their updates and will be adding their blog posts to the days they were written, so keep checking the earlier dates, as well!

Students in The Burren visiting the Poulnabrone Dolman and the Cliffs of Moher:
0324_ireland_cliffs_moher 0324_ireland_pounabrone_dolman






From Kathy Laughlin: While in Meknes, we visited the ancient Roman ruins of Velubilas. This Roman outpost is about a 45 minute drive from the main city. We saw beautiful Roman architecture, including columns! Mosaics! And Roman baths. We then travelled to Mullah Idris, the first town established under Islamic rule.
0322_morocco_volubilis_mullah_idris1 0322_morocco_volubilis_mullah_idris2 0322_morocco_volubilis_mullah_idris3 0322_morocco_volubilis_mullah_idris4 0322_morocco_volubilis_mullah_idris5 0322_morocco_volubilis_mullah_idris6 0322_morocco_volubilis_mullah_idris7 0322_morocco_volubilis_mullah_idris8












Day 7- Traveling: On the last day, we drove through Utah, Arizona and Nevada to arrive at a hotel in Las Vegas. Waving good bye to the sandstone cliffs, we were finally back to civilization. We stayed at La Quinta and had hot showers. Some of us went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant on the main strip and enjoyed the fountain show at the Bellagio. At the end of the night, we rested soundly in soft beds, enjoying the comfort of the climate-controlled hotel room, only a plane ride separating us from our home on the east coast.


ECO City Farm – “I had a nice time at the ECO City Farm today. The people were very nice to us. I weeded the first forty five minutes. It was a very hard work and kind of boring. The second forty five minutes I worked on hauling and filtering the compost, which was a lot more fun. They had an amazing machine which you put the compost and the un-decomposed stuff in and a wheel crank that automatically filtered the compost. During the tour around their farm, I learned the plants they planted and ate some of them. I also learned how they collected used (gray) water and reused it for a fish pond and to water plants. I learned a lot about how a farm works, especially all the techniques they used. For instance the compost filter machine, worms for composting, and the gray water aquaponics. It was a very prosperous day. I definitely need more knowledge about farming.  In fact, I realized how ignorant I am while doing this intersession. I think I will try to read more books and have some other experience about farming afterwards.” -Student reflection

By Eduardo Polón & Kexin Zhang
After a gratifying albeit exhausting week of serving as Volunteer Assistants in the bilingual preschool classrooms of the Spanish Education Development Center, our group settled on a fun list of Essential Preschool Spanish:
* The Basics: sí, no, gracias, por favor
* The Commands: no más, silencio, vámonos, siéntate, ven aquí, no lo toques, mira, hagan fila, no te lo pongas en la boca, comparte, ahora hay que lavarse las manos
* The Questions: Cómo te llamas? Qué es eso? Qué tienes? Qué color es? Qué pasó? Necesitas usar el baño? Qué quieres hacer?

We are jokingly convinced that, with this “essential vocabulary,” most anyone can survive a week in a classroom of adorably rambunctious preschool Spanish-speakers.

All joking aside, while all week long the faculty and staff at the Spanish Education Development Center have gone out of their way to express their appreciation to SSFS for volunteering our time this week, we feel equally grateful for having been welcomed by the SED Center with such open arms.  Consequently, on this last day together, and as a modest token of gratitude, our group decided to make a small donation of desired materials to each preschool bilingual classroom in which we participated.  Items ranged from rolls of clear contact paper, reams of colored construction paper, and white paper to packs of crayons, markers Play-Doh, story books, and scissors.

Fittingly, the capstone culinary reward for this past week’s service at the SED Center was a broad showcase of traditional Spanish tapas at La Tasca in downtown Washington, DC. From Mongolian and Indian to Ethiopian and Spanish, we hope that by exposing students to these diverse cuisines we have helped broaden their cultural perspective and introduced each to a few new delicacies along the way.

In the end, the emotional arc of our shared experience has been a full one. Understandable early uncertainty and cautious optimism surrendered quickly to anticipation and excitement; committed investment was rewarded with a reciprocated joy that comes from helping others, helped along by the fact that those “otros” were such innocent “niños”; and, alas, by virtue of forging special relationships, there is an inevitable parting sweet and melancholic sorrow that comes from having to say “adiós” to those wide-eyed faces with such broad smiles. Nonetheless, we can find solace in an earned satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that is the result of our collective endeavor and meaningful contributions this week.

0321_SED_photo-1 0321_SED_photo-2

It is said that “a picture’s worth a thousand words.”  If this is true, we hope you enjoy our intersession’s extensive tale via our day-by-day Google+ photo albums available at:

Day 1: https://plus.google.com/photos/102698573670831435183/albums/5992216831766953185

Day 2: https://plus.google.com/photos/102698573670831435183/albums/5992570363661185281

Day 3: https://plus.google.com/photos/102698573670831435183/albums/5992954539401184641

Day 4: https://plus.google.com/photos/102698573670831435183/albums/5993325083166077841

To learn more about the SED Center, visit www.sedcenter.org.

After traveling over the Atlas mountains to spend the night with Berbers in the Sahara and driving through a gorgeous gorge enroute to Ouazazarte, we wanted to take advantage of the brief access to wifi to let you know that everyone is doing well.  We have all enjoyed seeing and experiencing this beautiful and fascinating country.  Today we travel by car to a movie studio where the likes of Games of Thrones and the Hills Have Eyes were made as we make our way to Marrakech where we will spend the next few days.  With better wifi access, we should be able to write more about our exploits.

0320_patuxent_mataponi 0320_patuxent_breakfastEXPLORING THE PATUXENT
Sunrise over the Mataponi, and breakfast…







Day 6- The Long Hikes – Boulder Creek and Big Horn Canyon: Today was supposed to be the big day- the 2 groups were slated to accomplish 2 separate but similar 7 hour hikes. Both were supposed to be slot canyons, one with pools of water (the wet hike) and one without (the dry hike). Unfortunately, this didn’t work out quite as planned.


The group going on the dry hike quickly ran into trouble; the pullout that signaled the trailhead didn’t exist where the guide book said it would be. We parked at the next closest pullout along the highway and started walking along a very rough road in the direction the hike should have been in. We found a little trail, and followed it until it ran into a raging stream at the bottom of a wide canyon. Being the “dry hikers,” we decided to stay dry instead of trying to cross, and climbed out of the canyon and over a ridge back to their car. We then decided to drive to the trailhead of the wet hike and try to find the other group, but had no luck there either; the guidebook’s extremely vague directions left us unable to find that trailhead either. After an hour and a half of trying to track the other group, we gave up and headed back to the campsite at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, where they set up the camp and eagerly awaited news from the other group. When it didn’t come, we drove to Escalante Outfitters, the predetermined meeting point, ordered pizza, and anxiously awaited word from the other group.


The group that was going on the wet hike encountered a completely different scenario. After parking the car, we walked along a dirt road past a pasture of cows and newly born calves to find our hidden trail head. Following the vague instructions that often sounded like “stay to the left of the flat white rock in the distance” we were off and running. The beginning of the hike was exciting but took longer than anticipated. We quickly dropped down into the canyon which seemed to get lower and lower down. We used a variety of techniques such as planking to power through difficult slots and steep drops of almost 20 feet. The scorching sun was beating down and everyone was looking forward to jumping in to pristine cooling water. We zig zagged through zebra stripped slots with sandy bottoms. We reached the first wash in 3 hours when the directions said that it would be reached in 1.5 to 2 hours. This created a predicament, we were off schedule and still had at least 5 hours to go and some people had drank all their water. This was the last opportunity to turn back, but we collectively decided to finish the loop in hopes of finding water to purify. The wash that was supposed to be wet, ironically was dry. We decided to make a path above the slots in order to save time. But this meant traversing over orange wind rippled sand dunes and climbing up extremely slanted rock faces. We enjoyed playing with the circular iron ore deposits but the long dessert hike was starting to deplete us. The landmark objects on the horizon proved to be farther away than expected. Everyone’s water bottles were running low! The sun was setting when we finally found the abandoned ATV road that we were looking for. The abandoned road was supposed to lead to the road we entered on, but nothing looked familiar. Adam and Marina left the others to find the car to pick them up. Lips were cracked, people were feeling dizzy and some had headaches. The sky was darkening and there was no sign of any cows, but luckily there was a car parked near by. We received help from the nice couple who gave us a lift to the SUV and we were off to scoop up the rest of the group! The hike proved to be mentally and physically challenging, but everyone was safe. Glad to put the day’s adventure behind us, we hydrated and drove off to town, ready to enjoy the well deserved pizza with the other group.




0320_ironChef1 0320_ironChef2 0320_ironChef3 0320_ironChef4





By Felix Sun, Crista Lu, and Jane Zhang
Today is the second day we spent in the Open Kitchen; also it is the first day that we had meat for lunch! We were excited for today’s cooking, but unfortunately, the chicken was not cooked well. However, we learned a lot of cooking skills while we were making the chocolate cake: tempering and double boiling. Basically, tempering is to change the temperature of the hot melted chocolate to avoid cooking the eggs.  Double boiling is letting the chocolate melt by the heat from the boiling water, but not directly by the fire. The chocolate cakes were like restaurant dishes.  We are very proud of ourselves. In the afternoon, we were supposed to have a competition with Gwen’s group. However, it was canceled. We watched Iron Chef America. They are the best chefs all over the world. Overall, we learned a lot about cooking skills, especially knife skills.

Weighing the chicks, at Ecocity Farms, sheep shearing at Roslyn Farms, working at the SSFS garden w/ Joe Heathcock, using the wheel hoe.
SSFS Community Farm – Today we worked on our very own SSFS Community Farm.  Students divided into several groups to harvest plants, assemble plows, condition soil with compost, plant seeds and transplant plants.  “The best part today for me was when we washed the carrots that were just pulled out from the field and ate them. The carrots were delicious. It was kind of sweet but very wild and fresh.” We rode a bus into Olney to eat lunch at Pho & Grill.  Our final adventure for the day was watching Caroline Hussman’s sheep being sheared for their woolen fleece by a professional female shearer who travels the world for shearing competitions. “As the first time seeing people shear wool, I was very excited and I learned a lot. The wool was kind of sticky and also very soft. This experience widened my mind. They told me that China was the biggest exporter of wool. I think I will be digging more information about that when the next time I go back to China.”
0320_sustainability1 0320_sustainability2 0320_sustainability3 0320_sustainability4 0320_sustainability5 0320_sustainability6 0320_sustainability7 0320_sustainability8












0320_JTphoto1 0320_JTphoto3 0320_JTphoto4 0320_JTphoto5 0320_JTphoto6 0320_JTphoto7 0320_JTphoto8 0320_JTphoto10










Day 4: Today we had a blast climbing at the Atlantis area. Some students had a chance to practice placing gear on mock lead. After lunch we learned about this unique ecosystem at the Hi-Desert Nature Center. Then we visited some of Yucca Valley’s unique antique shops. In my mind, a trip to Joshua Tree is not complete without a visit to Pioneer Town, a town that was built as a movie set and featured in various Westerns. At the end of a long day, we rewarded ourselves with a nice dinner at “Pappy and Harriot’s,” an eclectic Pioneer town original.

0320_ireland_giants_causeway 0320_ireland_giants_causeway2 0320_ireland_peace_players 0320_ireland_peace_wall





From Claire Sperka: After a quick breakfast at the hostel in Slane, we drove to Newgrange, a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site. We visited the museum about Newgrange on the Boyne River. It was super windy and occasionally both sunny and rainy. Newgrange is older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. It is a sacred prehistoric rock monument and tomb. It was so cool! For lunch, the group had McDonald’s and Subway in Drogheda and then we jumped on the bus to Belfast. We visited the Quaker Cottage, an organization that helps lower income families from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds to try to change social standards of violence in daily life. For dinner, most of the group tried out the famous fish and chips, very greasy, but good! At our hostel in Belfast, we had a very interesting talk with a politician, Sean Farran, who was involved in negotiations of peace agreements for Northern Ireland during the Troubles. It was a long and eventful day for the jet-lagged group, but we love Ireland.

From Robin Auerswald: On Wednesday March 19, we woke up at the International Youth Hostel and ate an English breakfast at the cafe next door. After breakfast, we headed towards the Friends School of Lisburn. We got lost multiple times but, after finally getting there, we met the friendly Lisburn students, who gave us a tour of the school. I found the differences between Northern Ireland and American education very interesting. While we take almost every single subject, the Lisburn students start to narrow down the number of subjects they take early in their upper school education. On the other hand, we had many similarities too; for example, we watch many of the same TV shows and listen to the same music. While the students had class, we went on a tour of Lisburn and learned about the culture and people and visited the linen museum. We then had lunch, went to class, and met very nice students and professors, played icebreaker games, and then after dinner learned Irish dancing. Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye, but we hope to keep in contact with the great friends that we have made in Ireland.

From Stephanie Stettz and Anna McKay: Day Four of our adventure in Ireland started at Peace Players International, which is the organization we raised money for through the three-on-three basketball tournament.  When we arrived, we were assigned to one of four teams that had both Protestant and Catholic children.  The teams rotated through different activities, including dribbling and shooting drills, and an activity that taught the children about stereotypes and prejudice.  We ended our time with them by learning the Peace Players cheer and participating in a group huddle.  It was great to see the amazing work Peace Players International is doing and how the money we raised is going to help this organization bring the children of Northern Ireland together.  One of the members of Peace Players then took us on a tour to see the murals and the Peace Walls of Belfast.  Our first stop was to see Holy Cross and Wakefield Prep, one famous Catholic and Protestant school affected by the conflict of Northern Ireland.  We learned about the Catholic children and their families who were assaulted as they walked to school through a Protestant neighborhood, and how Peace Players had created a good relationship between the two schools.  We then got to see the different murals around Belfast, and ended the tour by signing the largest Peace Wall in Belfast, which is a barrier between a Catholic and Protestant community. After a long but beautiful bus ride, we arrived at Giants Causeway. Even though it rained on the ride, when we arrived the weather was clear and remained clear for the entire time we were there. The causeway was beautiful but strange because it is about 60 million years old and looks man made. It was incredibly windy but we managed to have a great time because the rain held off. We had a chance to roam around the rocks to explore. We took many photos of the beautiful landscape so we can remember the amazing view. Looking forward to more amazing views.



Day 5 rest day and campsite exploration: The Sooner rock campsite was by far the most austere and remote campsite that we stayed at. We pulled off the road into a wash (dry river bed) sheltered by mammoth boulders and graced by scenic views of the distant mountains. We packed in and out our own water, food, and trash. There were no amenities. We spent the day exploring natural formations in and around the campsite. A voluntary slot canyon hike left after lunch to do the willow canyon hike to the broken bow natural arch. While the canyons were amazing, we never found the arch. The funniest moment was when Adam jumped off a rock into what turned out to be knee high quick sand. We ended the night with a meeting for worship and star gazing circle under the cotton wood trees.DSCF3753


By Eduardo Polón & Kexin Zhang
0320_SED_photo_5With a couple of purposeful days of volunteering in the bilingual pre-school classrooms at the Spanish Education Development Center under our belts, relationships have taken root.  How fitting that on this last day of what has been a rather frigid winter, and with a welcome, warming sun all aglow, we are reminded in the faces of each of these precious, impressionable, and starry-eyed children that hope truly does spring eternal.

Still another meaningful day of service to others was rewarded with yet another culturally enriching lunch experience, an Ethiopian buffet at the aptly-named Addis Ababa, in Silver Spring, where, among other tasty items, the group was introduced to injera, Ethiopia’s famed spongy and sour pancake-like bread which serves an additional utilitarian purpose as one’s utensil.

To enjoy this intersession in pictures and video, please feel welcome to see our day-by-day Google+ photo albums available at:

Day 1: https://plus.google.com/photos/102698573670831435183/albums/5992216831766953185

Day 2: https://plus.google.com/photos/102698573670831435183/albums/5992570363661185281

Day 3: https://plus.google.com/photos/102698573670831435183/albums/5992954539401184641

0320_SED_photo-1 0320_SED_photo_4 0320_SED_photo_3 0320_SED_photo_2







Report from Logan, West Virginia:
Bonding. Beautiful weather. Making food. “Magnificent” living facilities. Dusty. Little kids. Clothes closet. Music. Logan high schoolers. Gibian family. Nae Nae (Nathan Gibian). Gardening. Painting. Sanding. Mulching. Planting. Moving lumber. Hard work. Rewarding. Milkshakes. Singing in church. Basketball. Sunset.
The Best From Logan, Daniel Petrucci


Sharp Farm –Morning tasks: search for worms (to feed baby chicks) and eat breakfast
Favorite quote of the day: “This is almost as cool as yesterday’s ice cream!” Claire Youmans in response to seeing the chicks that morning
Day summary: We arrived to the Art Barn this morning to the sound of a dozen chicks happily chirping.  We marked one of the chicks with a small dab of yellow maker and performed our first of many daily am/pm weight measurements to see the rapid growth of the chick throughout the week.  We spent the day working at Sharp Farm and were treated to delicious bbq buffet at Smokin’ Hot in Glenwood, MD.
Lessons learned: “how to shovel,” “dibbling (splitting plant seedlings) is harder than it looks”, “how to solarize soil”, “you have to be persistent to be successful”

IMG_0360Day 4 Peekaboo and Spooky! We woke up early to a setting moon. Because of backcountry permit restrictions, we split in to two groups to accomplish the planned day hikes. The national monument puts limitations on group sizes to preserve the fragile ecosystem. In the morning, one group went food shopping, and one group went canyoneering in the peekaboo and spooky slot canyons. The trailhead was an hour down an unpaved and bumpy dirt road, and our new back country campsite was an hour past that. We were truly “off the oil,” as the locals call being in the backcountry. On the hike, we descended down a cliff face following a trail of stacked rocks called Cairns. Once we reached the bottom of the cliff we found ourselves on a sandy bottom floor surrounded by steep walls of Navaho sandstone and many canyon slots ripe for exploration. We turned the corner and found a pool of water resting below an elliptical hole in the canyon wall resembling a large eye observing the visitors on the canyon floor. This slot canyon was called “Peekaboo.”

IMG_0287We daisy chained backpacks and scrambled up. Having conquered the first obstacle, we found ourselves faced with a labyrinth of narrow passage ways and mud puddles. The natural obstacle corse required everyone’s team work to safely navigate through the slots. After the groups met up for lunch, the morning canyoneers went to set up camp while the second group had their turn exploring the Peekaboo slots. The second group successfully navigated through the whole slot, experiencing narrowing claustrophobic walls and eventually found the light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone was exhausted and starving after the hike; the burritos really hit the spot.

IMG_0401 IMG_0400 IMG_0394 IMG_0392IMG_0395IMG_0396 IMG_0384IMG_0399IMG_0397     IMG_0382IMG_0372  IMG_0282IMG_0288IMG_0367IMG_0290IMG_0289IMG_0393IMG_0285IMG_0387IMG_0385

by Carter Xia, Kevin Liu, and Jim He
Today, we went to the Open Kitchen. We were so excited about it. First, the teacher Katie taught us how to use knives. Second, she taught us how to make apple pie. The first thing is cutting apples. Then we mixed the flour, sugar and butter to make the pie. For lunch, we made Italian food. Everyone was happy with his or her final work, and we enjoyed our meal. Through today’s lessons, we learn some instruction of knife and how to use it safely. Tomorrow, we will have some chicken. I hope we will have a great lesson.
0319_iron_chef1 0319_ironChef2 0319_ironChef3 0319_ironChef4







What is a Joshua Tree anyway? A Joshua Tree is a unique plant. It is a member of the Yucca family. Joshua trees are slow growing and may live up to 300 years!

Day 3: This morning we did a 3 mile round trip hike to the 49 Palms Oasis. We hiked through the open desert until we came upon a beautiful oasis! It is so incredible to see the sharp juxtaposition of desert and oasis. Many students joked that it was a mirage! Along the way we saw a desert tortoise and two chuckwalla lizards! Then we were off to rock climb at Quail Springs. We started with a little ground school. Chris and Mike taught us about the different types of protective equipment used in rock climbing. Students practiced setting “pro” (protective equipment) and created mock top rope anchors. Then we enjoyed a little shopping/shower stop at the Coyote Corner shop. Now I gotta sign off and enjoy my pizza at “Pie for the People.”

0319_JTphoto2 0319_JTphoto3 0319_JTphoto4 0319_JTphoto5 0319_JTphoto6 0319_JTphoto7 0319_JTphoto8 0319_JTphoto9 0319_JTphoto10 0319_JTphoto11 0319_JTphoto14 0319_JTphoto15
















By Eduardo Polón & Kexin Zhang
0319_SED_photo-3 0319_SED_photo-4 0319_SED_photo-5 0319_SED_photo-1

Having made such a positive first impression yesterday, it was no surprise to be welcomed with such youthful enthusiasm and loving open arms upon our return today to the Spanish Education Development Center. Quite simply, the children adore our volunteers, and rightfully so.

Similarly, some of our students observed how warmly received we were yesterday by our adult hosts, both faculty and staff. Having established a cooperative relationship with the SED Center that dates back to 2002, SSFS has earned the Center’s respect and appreciation.  While the SED Center depends largely on the generosity of volunteers, SSFS is applauded time and again for the outstanding quality of its exceptional student role models. Whether it’s measured in our students initiative, courtesy, patience, willingness or joyfulness, SSFS students do seem to distinguish themselves among their peers.

0319_SED_photo-2Perhaps this admirable distinction can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that SSFS is as much a community as it is a school, whose potential for influence on our interconnected campus, a population that ranges from Pre-K to Grade 12, is wider-reaching than most schools.  Perhaps, too, it is the result of being a Quaker institution whose testimonies — Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality and Stewardship (a.k.a, SPICES) — permeate both consciously and unconsciously the way we “let our lives speak.” Whatever the alchemical combination, this group of 18 volunteers is certainly carrying the torch as proud and worthy SSFS ambassadors.

Another meaningful day of service to others was rewarded with another culturally enriching lunch experience, this time in downtown Silver Spring, at Bombay Gaylord for some fine Indian cuisine.

To enjoy this intersession in pictures and video, please feel welcome to see our day-by-day Google+ photo albums available at: Day 1: https://plus.google.com/photos/102698573670831435183/albums/5992216831766953185

Day 2: https://plus.google.com/photos/102698573670831435183/albums/5992570363661185281

To learn more about the SED Center, visit www.sedcenter.org

With Quaker Friends at Friends School, Lisburn, and getting an Irish dance lesson!
0319_ireland_photo-1 0319_ireland_photo-2








Now that Monday’s snow day has passed and trips are settling in, we have some more updates to post!

From Kathy Laughlin: Monday and Tuesday we were in Fes. This is a gorgeous city, which includes the old medina and the newer city, which we saw only from a distance. The riad where we stayed, Dar Fez Medina, was gorgeous. We spent most of Tuesday doing a six hour walk through the medina, and finished the evening with a lovely meal and great entertainment.

0318_morocco_fes_1 0318_morocco_fes_2 0318_morocco_fes_5 0318_morocco_fes_6







IMG_0358Day 3 Last day in Zion! We packed up our belongings, rolled sleeping bags and sleeping pads, and threw our duffels in the SUV’s. We barely had space for our groceries, so we had to get creative when packing up the vans. We innovatively placed duffels on laps, tortillas in the glove box and boots in cracks between the seats. Stuffed to the brim, we headed up the Zion canyon to Angels Landing for an awesome hike. It was 5 miles round trip, but at a steep incline. We traversed up switch backs and around boulders. There were enormous safety chains that kept you from falling off the ridge. After scrambling up the treacherous terrain, we made it to an expansive panoramic view 6,600 feet above the canyon floor. Lunch was made up of tortillas and tuna at Checkerboard Mesa, a beautiful pull off on Route 12. With full tummies, we made our way to a new campsite at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. There, we indulged in the rare luxury of plumbing and hot showers before heading to bed.

 IMG_0342IMG_0357 IMG_0355 IMG_0354 IMG_0353  IMG_0351 IMG_0348 IMG_0346 IMG_0344 


The Sustainability Intersession visited Amish Country in Pennsylvania!
After gathering for a small breakfast of fruit, bagels, coffee and juice we set off for a 2 hour ride to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania– better known as Amish Country.  Upon arrival to the 50 acre idyllic farm, we were put to work unloading the church wagon which contained the benches and tables for our lunch feast.  Everyone appreciated the wonderful taste of the homemade organic food.  After lunch we completed our farm chores, including feeding chickens, gathering eggs, and filling the water trough for the cows.  An Amish carriage ride and homemade ice cream were the final gifts given by our hosts before we departed back to Sandy Spring.
0318_sustainability 0318_sustainability1 0318_sustainability2 0318_sustainability3












0318_ironChef1Are You the Next Iron Chef? Intersession
Written by Doori Bae, Max Finkel, and Alex Wang
We made breakfast, lunch, and dessert. For breakfast, 13 students were divided into four groups to make a breakfast food that used the ingredients available, including 4 eggs. Two of the dishes were cheese omelets with caramelized onions. Another was a traditional Chinese soup with egg, lettuce, and rice. The last was a crepe with syrup. For lunch, we made salad with a special vinaigrette and baked ziti with a tomato sauce and cheese. For dessert, we made chocolate chip cookies. One of the groups had the original recipe from Tollhouse and the other groups had a different ingredient changed in the recipe.

At the end of each course, we discussed the dishes and rated how they tasted. Each student also shared feedback so we could help each other understand what goes well with what in dishes.


0318_headstartHEAD START
The Head Start group met up at SSFS this morning before heading off to help out with Head Start programs around the county.





By the famous Forsyth Park fountain–dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day–in Savannah, GA






0318_joshua_tree21JOSHUA TREE
Day 2: Tues. We went back to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. We listened to an interesting talk on the native mammals and then continued with our service work. Our host, Dee Zeller, took us on the marsh trail. He told us more about the unique history of the area and explained why this natural oasis is such an important resting stop for migratory birds. Then we did some invasive species removal along the trail. All that before lunch!!

After the morning service work we went to climb at Indian Cove. Chris taught some rock climbing movement techniques and some crack climbing techniques such as hand jams. Then we had spaghetti at camp and enjoyed some time around the camp fire. We ate s’mores and enjoyed Terran and Julia’s ukelele playing!
JT_photo-26_0318 JT_photo-27_0318 JT_photo-28_0318 JT_photo-29_0318






0318_patuxent_photo1EXPLORING THE PATUXENT
Calvert Cliffs!






By Eduardo Polón & Kexin Zhang Tuesday, March 18th
0318_sed_photo-1 0318_sed_photo-2 0318_sed_photo-3 0318_sed_photo-4
After an unseasonable snowfall Monday morning shut down the surrounding Metropolitan DC area, the SED Center Intersession began in earnest today, albeit a day late. Located in Washington, DC, the Spanish Education Development Center is an award-winning, non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of low-income residents since 1971.

Honoring a longstanding partnership that has seen SSFS send students from the Upper School to volunteer in the SED Center’s bilingual preschool classrooms since 2002, today’s 18 high schoolers were given a quick tour before splitting into six groups of three and introduced to their respective classrooms for the week, ranging from toddlers to 4-year olds.

After a meaningful day’s work and play that included a spirited though belated St. Patrick’s Day celebration complete with dance party, and in this intersession’s spirit of celebrating multiculturalism, the group rode the Metro to Chinatown where they were rewarded with a well-earned and delicious lunch of Mongolian barbecue at Tony Cheng’s, winner of Washingtonian Magazine’s Blue Ribbon.

To enjoy this intersession in pictures, please feel welcome to see our day-by-day Google photo album available at:


Some beautiful photos sent by Julia Hardt:
0318_ireland_photo-1 0318_ireland_photo-2 0318_ireland_photo-4 0318_ireland_photo-5 0318_ireland_photo-6 0318_ireland_photo-7 0318_ireland_photo-8 0318_ireland_photo-10



More Ireland Photos from Tony McCudden at Newgrange: inside the museum, and at the entrance, where the artistic rock, which was found buried at the entrance to the tomb, dates back to 3200BC. Similar artwork is found inside the tomb. The window above the entrance shines sunlight into the tomb on the winter solstice (December 21st). Also, the “Quaker House on the hill.” The long red wall is part of the Peace Walls in Belfast.
0318_ireland_photo-13 0318_ireland_photo-15 0318_ireland_photo-17 0318_ireland_photo-16





Although a St. Patrick’s Day snowstorm here in the DC area prevented our local intersessions from meeting, those who are far afield report that their trips are off to a great start!


IMG_0303 IMG_0302IMG_0299IMG_0333  

Day 2 – The Narrows: Snug and chilly in our sleeping bags, we woke up to an amazing sunrise that exposed the magnificent cliffs surrounding us. We ate breakfast while the light crept down the canyon to warm us up. After a food shop, we had our first canyoneering experience in The Narrows, a 200 foot deep canyon with an active river coursing through it. We trekked through ankle to knee high water, and despite having numb toes, had a great time. We ended the day with stir fry for dinner, cheesecake to celebrate Elisa’s birthday, a play in honor of Purim, and a fire circle with wet boots thawing around the warm blaze.

  IMG_0316IMG_0330  IMG_0326 IMG_0322  IMG_0315 IMG_0328IMG_0312IMG_0314  IMG_0310 IMG_0309 IMG_0308IMG_0305IMG_0307  IMG_0304 IMG_0301 IMG_0338

Joshua Tree
Climbing at Trash Can Rock:
0318_joshua_tree20 0318_joshua_tree19 0318_joshua_tree18 0318_joshua_tree17 0318_joshua_tree14 0318_joshua_tree12 0318_joshua_tree11 0318_joshua_tree10 0318_joshua_tree09 0318_joshua_tree08 0318_joshua_tree06 0318_joshua_tree05 0318_joshua_tree04 0318_joshua_tree03 0318_joshua_tree02 0318_joshua_tree01

From Tony McCudden: Leaving the big snow behind, despite an anxious wait on the tarmac in Washington DC, we arrived to a beautiful spring day in Dublin. We drove north and arrived at the Slane Farm Hostel, across from Slane Castle, an ancient castle which now is host to some of the world greatest performers including U2, REM, Madonna, and The Rolling Stones. After a quick shopping trip to Navan we drove to the Hill of Tara, where we observed ancient burial grounds and monuments, and once the throne of Irish Kings dating to the 12th century.
ireland2_0317 ireland_0317After lunch we turned our attention to the town of Slane, where St. Patrick is said to have lit the first Paschal fire and introduced Christianity to Ireland. We joined in the town’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day with a street parade. (Photo : Matt and Kienan enjoying green ice cream during the parade). The exhausted group enjoyed dinner together at the hostel before an early night as we prepare to head to Northern Ireland tomorrow.

Joshua Tree
Monday: In the morning we had breakfast at camp while watching the sunrise. We met our rock climbing guides, Chris and Mike. Then we headed to Big Monongo Canyon Preserve for our service work. We cleaned up the butterfly garden and Filled 30 trash bags of raked leaves. Another part of our group Mulched the entrance with fresh wood chips. Soon we will head to Joshua Tree Park to climb at the Quail Spring area. Everyone is having a great time so far!!!

0317_joshua_tree05 0317_joshua_tree07 0317_joshua_tree10 0317_joshua_tree11 0317_joshua_tree12 0317_joshua_tree14 0317_joshua_tree17


Joshua Tree Climbing and Service – The Joshua Tree intersession has been very busy! Thanks to Ken Gorton, you can track the group’s location using the following GPS links:

* This one runs well in a browser on your computer or tablets, but is not optimized for smartphones:


* This one is also runs in a browser on a PC but is really optimized for smart phones:


The following text and photos were sent from Julie Borsetti:

Day 1, Saturday. Trail work at Great Falls, VA. and below, Service at the mine run trail. Complete!

photo3_0316 photo4_0316 photo6_0316 photo8_0316 photo1_0316 photo5_0316



Day 1- Megaday
The first day of the trip was a marathon of traveling, punctuated by periods of patient waiting. We met at BWI at 7:00 am, made it to our gate on time, got on the plane, and then waited for an hour while they tinkered with the engine. After our stewardess shared a plethora of corny jokes, we were instructed to switch planes! After our rocky start, we made it to Detroit for our layover without any major problems. There we sat on the runway for another hour. On our flight to Vegas, we napped, played cards, and took in the awesome scenery. Once we landed, we waited another hour while waiting for our rental cars. After a long gear shop in Vegas, we piled in the vans and drove through 3 states to Zion National Park in Utah. We set up our tents at 2 in the morning, and finally crashed after being awake for just over 24 hours. Phew.
IMG_0296 IMG_0297
From Kathy Laughlin: After a very long day of travel that involved one (very) large plane, a smaller plane, and two trains, we finally arrived in Meknes, our first destination in Morocco. After a very good night’s sleep, we enjoyed a breakfast of orange juice, coffee or mint tea, bread, cheese, olives, yogurt, and jam. After breakfast, a fleet of taxis took us to the old part of the city, called the medina. The medina is usually inside an old walled section, with the ‘Villa Nouvelle’ on the outside. At the old central market, we got into horse-drawn carriages to travel throughout the medina. We visited the Royal Mosque, the Royal Prison that stretched for 7 kilometers under ground, with the only source of light coming through holes carved from above.  We visited a UNESCO World Heritage site called the Ambassador’s Palace, where prisoner exchanges were conducted. We went on to the old grainery and stables, where former kings kept up tp 12,000 horses for their cavalry. Back at the market, we entered the small allys of the souk filled with every type of spice, clothing, shoes, and decorations one could imagine.  Through the alleyways, we came upon a famous Qur’anic madrasa, or school, where religious scholars studied the Qur’an from small rooms that opened into a courtyard. On the roof, we saw the Great Mosque of Meknes, with its traditional rectangular style of minaret. We had a late lunch on at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the the medina square, enjoying the gorgeous weather and the frenetic pace below.
ireland_0317 morocco15_0317 morocco14_0317 morocco13_0317 morocco12_0317 morocco11_0317 morocco10_0317 morocco9_0317 morocco8_0317 morocco7_0317 morocco6_0317 morocco5_0317 morocco4_0317 morocco3_0317 morocco2_0317 morocco1_0317