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It’s not every day that you see unicorn trotting through a kibbutz!

Following the incredible midterm open house exhibit at Dror Israel’s high school in Carmiel, it was time for the students to share what they have accomplished so far this year at the Eshbal boarding school with their friends and family. On an unseasonably warm Saturday in February, the grassy areas overlooking Eshbal’s therapeutic horse stables were overflowing with spectators, including parents, Eshbal’s graduates and former counselors, as well as Dror Israel educators and their families who live on Eshbal. The crowd was wowed by the impressive horse show showing off the skills the students have learned thus far in their horse training lessons, with intricate solo, pair and group routines.

Kids were amazed by Eshbal's unicorn!

The boarding school’s therapeutic stables are an important part of the psycho-social care provided by Eshbal. Through learning to care for, ride, and train the horses, the students not only gain a horseback riding teaching certificate, but also learn about communication, have a safe space to work through their emotions, and learn responsibility. The midterm horse show was a chance for them to show off their hard work and progress. The students’ teamwork and communication skills were also on display, as each performance demanded precise coordination and was the result of long hours of planning and practice.

Group routines demand a high level of coordination and communication.

After their show, the students invited the children of Eshbal to a Purim carnival which they’d spent weeks planning! Featuring a cotton candy machine and homemade games of chance and skill, the boarding school students went all out planning the fun and festive event. One of the carnival’s highlights was the stable’s white horse, who got all dressed up for Purim! Donning washable paint and a unicorn headband, Eshbal’s ‘Unicorn’ patiently offered rides to the kibbutz’s kids.

The ring toss gave kids a chance to show off their skills

This period is a busy one for the students at the boarding school. The student’s high school in Carmiel recently held the annual midterm event showcasing the student’s projects, with their families attending from all over the country. The event culminated in a ceremony where students and teachers alike performed for their peers and families. The 12th graders make big posters demonstrating all they’ve learned and wrote songs to perform in a ceremony at the event.

“It was a very exciting and meaningful event,” one of the teachers told us. “We are very proud of what our students accomplish and that they choose to share and perform with each other is no small feat.”

“It was the first time in four years that we were able to do a big celebration with parents and families and the mayor [because of COVID] and the event was packed. It was exciting to have such a big turnout after such a long time,” said Emma Pasternack, an educator at the school.

The event was a chance for students to share what they've learned this semester.

More about the Eshbal Boarding School:

Tucked away in the mountains of the Lower Galilee is a veritable eden for youth looking for another chance – a new adventure, a new opportunity. Dror Israel’s Boarding School on Kibbutz Eshbal is a place for at-risk youth in need of a fresh start and a way to establish themselves. Many students who find themselves at Eshbal are on their last chance, sent by social workers or judge’s decrees. The students come from all over Israel, from every corner of society and bring with them diverse perspectives. At the boarding school, they live together, work together, learn together, struggle together and succeed together. Students graduate from Eshbal with a keen sense of community and personal responsibility. Many go on to a year of community service before the army and serve in highly respected army units.

The Eshbal Boarding School is an award-winning institution that has run on Kibbutz Eshbal for over 20 years and serves youth from 10th to 12th grade. The teenagers at the boarding school attend Dror’s high school in Carmiel that is based on dialogical pedagogy and project-based learning. At the end of the school day, students come back to Kibbutz Eshbal and take care of horses and dogs, volunteer with the children of the kibbutz, participate in hiking or music programs and more. The pedagogy emphasizes close relationships between peers and their educators and empowers students to overcome difficulties in their pasts and grow into independent and successful young adults.

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