Rice students wrap first week with lessons in resilience

Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 5:11 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Rice Memorial High School started off the academic year with a twist. From learning inside of the classroom to enjoying carnival games, students at the South Burlington parochial school ended their first week back with some fun.

Some Rice Memorial High School students ended their first week back at school with a game of tug-a-war.

“We’re trying to encourage students to build resilience and we’re asking them how do they build resilience,” said principal Andrew Nagy.

Students celebrated their summer reading by doing various activities including a game of chance, obstacle course, and relay race -- all based on the nonfiction book “Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand.

“I think it’s nice to just collaborate as not just your senior class but with the other classes because we do field day activities outside, we get to see all the classes and how everyone is doing at the beginning of the year,” said Keira Underwood, a student.

“Unbroken” is a story about determination and survival and focuses on a World War Two veteran who survived 47 days on a life raft without supplies and two and a half years in a Japanese POW camp. School officials say the theme of building resilience is critical to foster in students, especially after the pandemic.

“Obviously, it is very serious but you can kind of look at it and reflect -- for us during the school year -- just pushing through and being resilient,” said Rice student Nathan McDonald.

Nagy says students will face challenges with academics, athletics, and the social aspects of being a teenager.

“Teaching high school students resilience is so important so that when they get into college, they’re going to be prepared for the ups and downs and they’re going to be able to use moments of adversity or failure as opportunities to find success,” he said.

“We wanted to bring that to our school in Vermont and give students the tools that they need, in just a literary reference, to help them channel resilience in their own lives,” said religion teacher Maureen Bauchan.

Even though school just started on Tuesday, students say it’s nice to end the week with outdoor activities. “I enjoy it because it’s a time to see my classmates, friends, and people I haven’t seen all summer outside of an academic environment,” said Moorea Lambert.

School officials hope to offer a similar opening week event in the future.