What Did Hackley Do This Summer?

Freshmen Spencer Flaxman and Isaac Price spent time at sleepaway camp in Maine doing many activities like camping and hiking.

On trips from Ukraine to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Hackley community enjoyed a summer filled with both work and fun. The school year can be a source of stress for many, and the summer break provides opportunities to not only relax but also participate in meaningful activities. As the Hackley community comes back to the Hilltop for a long year ahead, students and faculty highlight events of their summers.
Freshman Spencer Flaxman went to sleepaway camp in Maine for seven weeks. He has been going for a number of years, has a lot of friends there, and was excited to return. He learned many useful skills including how to start a fire and set up a tent. A highlight of his camp experience was a five-day canoeing and camping trip on the border of Canada and the United States. In addition, prior to going away to camp, he went to Southern Utah.
Sophomore Peter Roberts went to Yellowstone, Montana for 22 days on a backpacking and fly fishing trip. Peter is very passionate about the outdoors and likes to spend as much time outdoors as possible. “It was just like my happy place, I love to fly fish and I love to backpack; like the idea of being able to carry everything that you need to survive on your back is pretty cool.” In addition to learning more about fly fishing, he also felt that it was a good opportunity to lead and be independent. Peter also volunteered for Hudson Scholars for two weeks and found it very rewarding to work with the scholars.
Like Peter, junior Charlotte Rotenberg spent a lot of time outdoors this summer, too. With a camp group, she hiked Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She has always been interested in hiking and said that this hike tested her physical capabilities. This experience also brought a lot of service opportunities and the chance to take language classes. Another highlight of her summer was Hackley Field Hockey preseason in August.
While some students spent most of their summers outdoors, senior Emily Rifkin spent a lot of her summer focusing on college. She finished her college search by going on a few tours, as well as spending time working on her college essays. Although she dedicated a lot of time to her college applications, she also spent time hiking and going to the beach with her friends. She also went to Cape Cod and Long Beach Island and worked at a day camp for half of the summer.
Senior Massimo Soto spent a lot of time taking photographs locally as well as focusing on finishing his college essays this summer. He started a social media marketing business, taking over social media accounts, and bringing up their following and engagement. He took photos for several different businesses and restaurants in Westchester, estimating he took close to 5000 photos of food. The photographs that he enjoyed taking the most were of sports cars, which he took with his friends. He especially enjoyed these photos because of how they turned out since they were taken from a moving car at a relatively high speed. Finally, he got the opportunity to travel to a few film festivals around the country that were showing the film he made earlier in the year. So far, it has been displayed in four different countries.
History teacher Vladimir Klimenko spent three weeks in Ukraine this summer, talking to people in different cities, and participating in a humanitarian aid run to civilians living on the frontline. Mr. Klimenko has connections to Ukraine, as many of his ancestors are Ukrainian. His first language is Russian and he worked as a journalist during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Credit: Vladimir Klimenko
Mr. Klimenko in a bombed-out residential area on the outskirts of Kharkiv, a city not far from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Mr. Klimenko explained what it is like to visit Ukraine in 2022. “In many places on the surface, it looks like a lot of other places in Europe. Cafes are open, people are eating in restaurants, and so on. But there were unmistakable signs of war.”
He described seeing buildings demolished by bombs and rockets and visiting and talking with refugees. “My trip was a vivid reminder of what it’s like when large-scale historical events occur near you.”
Mr. Klimenko noted that the entire country is engaged in the war in some way. He visited the outskirts of a city where rocket fire and bombs had destroyed a substantial part of the housing which forced 99 percent of the local residents out of their homes. Drawing from his experiences as a journalist, Mr. Klimenko is in the process of writing and submitting articles about his trip.