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A natural lifestyle By: Iman Malik

Photo by Herman Saini

Senior Leslie Liger

For senior Leslie Liger, her disappointment and stress reached its peak after she received three tests grades that were not up to her standards. To help alleviate her anxiety, she turned to an activity that she had been doing daily for two years — hiking.

“I hike every single day. It's just a way to help relax myself from the daily stresses of school and I play tennis and that's really stressful sometimes,” Liger said. “It's just a way to escape and reflect on the day.”

Although Liger spends the majority of her time hiking alone, she also uses it as a way to strengthen the bond with her friends.

Photo used with permission of Leslie Liger

“[Hiking is a] really good way to step outside of technology, talk to your friends about your life and have deep conversations,” Liger said. “If you were surrounded by technology, you wouldn't really talk about those kinds of things, so it's a really good way to focus your mind on something important.”

Liger also believes that the importance of being in nature and taking time to reflect is something that every student should do.

“At MVHS, we're so focused on getting good grades, but when I went hiking I started really thinking about what makes me happy,” Liger said. “It really helped reset myself again.”

Photos used with permission of Leslie Liger

Science teacher Kyle Jones

While camping with his family at age seven, science teacher Kyle Jones slowly lowered his line into the dark water. Feeling a tug, he eagerly lifted his pole and saw a small fish at the end, its rainbow scales shimmering in the light. As he struggled to hold on to its slippery skin, Jones was overcome with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

To this day, catching a fish still sparks the same joy in Jones as it did all those years ago. Recently, Jones has hiked and camped at nearby trails by himself to relive his childhood experiences, become more connected with nature and find refuge from modern life.

Photos used with permission of Kyle Jones

“We're not seeing nature surround us all the time … it’s very removed from what our brains have evolved to be in tune with,” Jones said. “So when you go in nature, it's almost like you tap into that primal part of you that's longing for that.”

Jones also enjoys teaching Environmental Science because of its emphasis on the importance of preserving nature. The more time he spends outdoors, the more at peace he feels. To Jones, nature is a snapshot of what life was like before technological advances, and staying anchored to it is an important part of life.

“Nature impacts my life in almost in a very aesthetic way, in a very deep sort of way too. And that it makes me feel more connected to the world,” Jones said. “It makes you appreciate life in general, its beauty, its connectedness and it's important to preserve it.”

Photo used with permission of Kyle Jones

Sophomore Megha Yengoti

The sunlight warming her skin, sophomore Megha Yengoti stands alongside her neighborhood friends in front of a grassy hill behind her house. She stares at the trail in front of her and begins to hike, remembering what awaits her at the end. When she gets to the top, she sees a vine of dark purple wine grapes. She and her friends begin to pick and eat them, savoring the sweetness. When they finish, Yengoti looks at her hands, now sticky from juice.

For her, nature is an outlet for social interactions among her friends and family. Yengoti began hiking the trail near her neighborhood at a young age, and has enjoyed it ever since.

Photo used with permission of Megha Yengoti

“It's just fun. And there's always people with you,” Yengoti said. “You're not home alone in your room doing nothing all day.”

However, for Yengoti the best part of nature is the sun. According to her, the sun makes simple activities much more enjoyable because of its light and warmth. Additionally, being outside allows her to feel calm and relaxed.

“Sometimes I will go sit in the sun and read a book because it feels good,” Yengoti said. “I like the fresh air because ... it's more open.”

Photo used with permission of Megha Yengoti

Yengoti considers some of her hobbies, such as playing outside, to be childish. But ultimately, she enjoys the feeling being in the sun and being in nature bring.

“I just like the fact that you can do a lot in the sun,” Yengoti said. “You can be happy.”

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