Erik Weihenmayer Talk Headlines Week of Understanding

Erik Weihenmayer Talk Headlines Week of Understanding

In May 2001, Erik Weihenmayer reached the summit of Mount Everest. A year later, he became one of only 150 mountain climbers ever to summit the highest peaks on each of the seven continents—a remarkable feat for anyone, but especially for Weihenmayer, who is blind.

This year, Weihenmayer will be the headline speaker of the Week of Understanding at Woodward Academy, thanks to the generosity of Don and Christina Koch and Dr. Christian and Anne Koch, grandparents and parents of senior Chip Koch. The blind adventurer will answer student questions and share his inspirational story.

The Week of Understanding is an annual Academy-wide celebration of the many, varied, and unique differences within our community. While we work every day to instill a deep respect for difference within our students in all that we do, this annual week provides devoted time to emphasize just how important this value is at Woodward.

Because of the pandemic, this year's events will be held virtually.

The events also feature a webinar with renowned author and advocate Christo Brand. When he was 19, Brand was a South African prison guard who was assigned to watch Nelson Mandela, then a political prisoner. Eventually, the two formed an unlikely friendship, one that continued when Mandela was released and became South Africa's president. Brand now travels to speak about equality.

The school-wide sessions with Christo Brand will be held on Monday, March 15.

The school-wide session with Weihenmayer will be held on Tuesday, March 16. This Zoom session will be available to students in all schools and grades. Before the session, students and families are invited to watch a gripping account of Weihenmayer's summit of Mount Everest, the documentary Farther Than the Eye Can See, which is available on YouTube.

Below is a full list of events:

Upper School & Middle School

3/15--Christo Brand interview for all students and faculty at 12 p.m.

3/16--Erik Weihenmayer programming at 12:15 p.m., followed by an interactive Zoom call with select Upper School students and teachers.

3/17--Art Installation. Students from the Upper School will be exploring and celebrating aspects of identity by creating hand shaped leaves to add to a Community Tree collaborative sculpture in Jane Woodruff Hall Atrium.  Live feed on WALIVE.

3/19--Erik Weihenmayer book discussion based on The Adversity Advantage. Virtual WOU festival and live feed on WALIVE.

Primary School

Students will acknowledge and discuss Week of Understanding during morning announcements and incorporate some WA Building Blocks to Equity and Inclusion videos into morning meetings. Faculty will have access to the Christo Brand and Erik Weihenmayer presentations.

Woodward North

Teachers will incorporate the Christo Brand presentations over the course of the week with fourth through sixth graders who will also view the live Erik Weihenmayer presentation. WA Building Blocks to Equity and Inclusion videos will be shown as well. Students also will participate in the Community Tree art installation by writing down wishes to be sent in and installed at the Upper School. The younger grades will read stories about Nelson Mandela.

Lower School

Teachers will incorporate the Christo Brand and Erik Weihenmayer presentations over the course of the week. Students will Zoom live with Christo Brand on the morning of 3/15 with Dr. Gulley. WA Building Blocks to Equity and Inclusion videos will be included in morning meetings. Students also will participate in the Community Tree art installation by writing down wishes to be sent in and installed at the Upper School based on the No Place For Hate Resolution of Respect and the Lower School Promise.

More information will be included in announcements.