The Unique Rural Student Experiences of Mountain Academy Students
Jackson, Wyoming is home to one of the two campuses of Mountain Academy. Two of our students reported on local celebrity grizzly bear 399 and her cubs as they navigated Teton Valley and our very own campus this last school year. Mama bear 399 has since separated from her cubs and they are embarking on lives of their own. Learn more through the eyes of the students, reported by Phoebe (7th grade) & Revi (5th Grade).
In August 2021, the day before school started, the internationally known Grizzly 399 and her four cubs were spotted on the Mountain Academy’s Jackson Campus’ playfield. 399 was also spotted on the Gros Ventre road in Grand Teton National Park near the airport. She and her four cubs crossed the road and headed towards the river. She has recently been mentioned in many articles throughout 399’s home state Wyoming and even in Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska.
This bear scat (a more formal word for poop) was found on the Jackson Campus on in August. It is most likely 399’s or one of her cub’s scat. The first sight was on the path up to Mountain Academy (this picture is on the path), but later people found another place with scat like this on the playfield.
This picture of 399 with her cubs was taken a few weeks later. Julie (a lower school teacher at Mountain Academy) took this picture from inside her car near the lower lot. Later that day Revi (a fifth grade student at Mountain Academy) and her dad went to look for signs of 399. They found a few paw prints, matted down grass, and a branch that was stripped of berries, all in the area that this picture was taken.
This picture was taken in late August on the Gros Ventre road. Phoebe (a seventh grade student at Mountain Academy) and her dad were driving to school on the first day, and she was looking out my window. “What’s that?” Phoebe asked, pointing. “A car,” her dad replied. “No. That,” she said pointing again. “Oh! A moose!” Phoebe’s dad replied again. “Ummmm. That’s not a moose,” Phoebe cried “Unless moose travel in packs of five, And stand on their hind legs!” Her dad slammed on the brakes. “It’s a bear!” he yelled, “It’s 399!” She corrected excitedly. The bears crossed the road behind their car and loped off towards the Gros Ventre River and disappeared from sight behind a large sagebrush. Phoebe’s dad and Phoebe both smiled and her dad said “That has to be good luck for the school year!”
In Jackson, there is the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Currently, there is an exhibit called “While They’re Sleeping: A Story of Bears.” Revi and Phoebe will be visiting the museum to see this specific exhibit later this month. The goal of the journey will be to see the art and reflect on how it relates to them, their interest in bears and their greater awareness of their place.
-Phoebe and Revi, Mountain Academy Students
Please note the National Museum of Wildlife Art exhibit “While They’re Sleeping: A Story of Bears” is no longer on exhibit, you can however explore their online gallery and view the experience while the bears are not sleeping (hibernating).