by Eliza Pinckney, Reporter

February 7, 2020

This spring, groups of ninth graders will go with their SMART classes to a horse ranch on a full day field trip. Axiom Equine’s goal is to help people in a unique and meaningful way and teach them valuable skills and lessons.

In the Axiom Equine workshop, students will be led by founders Kate Shook and Melissa Pate in a series of activities where they will interact with horses, through physical contact and leading the horse. The activities are meant to represent something personal to each student.

“The Axiom Equine workshop experience is about helping students develop a sense of what they’re communicating when they’re not using words,” high school principal Danny Rock said. “It’s about understanding the identity and persona that you express all the time, when you’re not talking… The horses are like a mirror of what your nonverbal communication messages are telling people.”

Rock, along with other staff members and roughly 70 current high school students, has attended this workshop. Senior Maya Harrison experienced it with her fellow ASB cabinet members. “Going into [the workshop], I was questioning if it would be good, but I learned a lot from it,” Harrison said. “I got a lot closer with the people that I did it with. I wish I had done it as a freshman.”

The staff and students at the high school who went through the Axiom Equine workshop have enjoyed their experiences with it. The opportunity will now be extended to the current freshman class, and the next three freshman classes after this year. This is possible because Axiom received a $300,000 grant from the Minnie Perkins Foundation, which was founded by a current Vashon resident and focuses on philanthropy and grant-making. The grant was given specifically for Axiom to provide as many students as possible with this experience. Rock believed it was best to give freshmen the opportunity to undergo the workshop.


“Between the beginning of ninth grade and the middle of tenth grade is when students are consolidating their identity, it’s when they have most fully pushed themselves away from their parents, because they’re ready to figure out who they are,” Rock said. “So, if we were going to provide an experience to help students understand themselves better and [ground] them in an identity, the time to do it is in that window.”

The high school has worked with Axiom for the past six years, but only a few select students have gone through the workshop. Counselor Paul Peretti believes that the workshop will be beneficial to the school community and that more students should experience it.

“One thing we want to increase here at the high school is what we call tier one supports, which is a social-emotional support system for all students, not just a select few students,” Peretti said. “We can use Axiom to expose the ninth graders to an experience that will affect them positively and emotionally.”


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