Heathwood’s distinctive PEAK outdoor education and leadership program celebrated its 20th anniversary on October 25 by opening its doors to the Heathwood community for an evening of outdoor adventure and fun.
The 200+ Heathwood students and families who attended the anniversary party had the opportunity to climb PEAK’s signature Alpine Tower, paddle on Heathwood Pond, hike the Anne T. Weston Trail around the edge of campus, shoot on the Archery Range, and more. They were assisted by PEAK student leaders, Upper School students who have undergone extensive training and commit to volunteering at least 20 hours a year with the PEAK program.
Founded in 1998 by Heathwood faculty member Stan Wood, who still serves as the program director, PEAK took Heathwood’s longtime emphasis on experiential learning to a new level by providing facilities that allowed students to challenge themselves, work collaboratively, and develop a deeper appreciation and respect for the natural world.
Today, PEAK programming touches the lives of virtually every Heathwood student. Early Childhood students experience PEAK through programs like Dads Day on the pond, while Lower School and Middle School students take outdoor education classes, go on field trips coordinated by PEAK, and can participate in after-school PEAK clubs that provide opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, and more. In addition to serving as PEAK Student Leaders, Upper School students can take the popular Wilderness Exploration class and explore the outdoors in South Carolina and beyond by joining the PEAK Summit Club.
Highlights of the anniversary included the return of the PEAK program's first associate, Dunbar Lyles, '95, who flew in from Denver for the event, and the roles played by the 35 PEAK Student Leaders who helped out by doing everything from welcoming guests to managing the ropes course, hiking trails, archery range, and pond. "These students received tremendous compliments from parents and other visitors," Mr. Wood said. "People could really see the power of the roles these students play in the PEAK program and how much of a powerful role it is for them in terms of gaining leadership experience and possibly discovering new passions."
PEAK’s first 20 years have been exciting, said Mr. Wood: “Our facilities have grown and blossomed, and we’ve taken increasing advantage of resources like our pond, trails, and forested areas, and used them in great ways. What has not changed in the time that I’ve been here is Heathwood’s commitment to learning beyond the classroom. That’s what makes this school unique.”
Learn more about the PEAK program at https://www.heathwood.org/campus-life/peak-program.
See more pictures from the PEAK 20th Anniversary Party at https://www.heathwood.org/peak-20th-anniversary-party