High Mountain Institute
The High Mountain Institute (HMI) is a non-profit educational organization located in Leadville, Colorado. Founded in 1995 by Molly and Christopher Barnes, HMI focuses on educating teenagers through interaction with the natural world. The school offers semester and summer programs for high-school students and programs for middle-schoolers and adults.
The HMI Semester is the cornerstone program at the institute. In the HMI Semester, 42 students from all over the country come together to spend either the fall or spring semester of their junior year of high school outside their comfort zone. Classes are taken at an honors level, with class sizes ranging from 42 to 4. Students live with about nine other students in cabins heated with wood-burning stoves. Physical training consists of a fitness regimen of early-morning runs and skiing culminating in a "Fun Run" (a 10-mile run at 10,000 feet). The key element of the HMI Semester is the wilderness program. Students take three trips into the back country (which varies from the canyons of southeast Utah to the slopes of Mount Elbert). Since these trips last from 10 to 14 days each, a substantial part of the semester is spent in the wilderness. During the expeditions, students do homework, learn back-country cooking and survival tips and learn about leadership and natural ethics.
The HMI Summer Term is a six-week summer program which mirrors the HMI Semester, and is open to students who have completed 10th or 11th grade. The program combines academics, community and back-country experience for a condensed version of the semester program.
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