Nine Eagle Rock School Students Earn Their Diplomas

Just in time for the holidays, nine Eagle Rock School students became the latest graduates to emerge from our campus in Estes Park, Colo. — each set to embark on that lifelong journey that almost all commencement speakers talk about.

ER 67’s grads (the 67th graduating class in the history of Eagle Rock School) received their diplomas on Friday, Dec. 11, in ceremonies that were recorded and are now available to watch online at Eagle Rock’s Ustream channel. Graduates included Ashalou Harrison, Emelia Eller, Daisy Delgado, Joey Flores, Cristian Aguiluz, Bryan Yanez, Kira Sinclair, Aaron Beckles and Saben Hinckley.

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With their departure, we’re pleased to provide a little background on the graduates, along with words of wisdom from each:

Ashalou Harrison joined us in ER 59 and was a Juniper House resident who was born in Nepal and raised in Hawaii. Highlights of her time at Eagle Rock include working at Rocky Mountain National Park for two summers and traveling with the Eagle Rock Professional Development (PDC) team to San Francisco for a PDC engagement.

This athletic and funny grad, who’s heading off to college after graduation, suggests future Eagle Rock students, “don’t force upon anything — just go with the flow.”

Emelia Eller, ER 60, is from Austin, Texas and St. Louis, Mo., but has spent the past few years as a Continue reading…

Meet The Eagle Rock Grad Who Sailed 27,000 Miles Solo

Matt Rutherford graduated from Eagle Rock way back in August of 2001 (ER 24 as we call it around here), and according to Robert Burkhardt, our founding head of school, this former student is being quite productive these days.

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It’s been a bunch of busy years for Rutherford, who prior to leaving Eagle Rock articulated three distinct and immediate goals for himself during his final POLs (Presentations of Learning):

  1. Ride a mountain bike across Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.
  2. Sail alone across an ocean.
  3. Start and run a not-for-profit organization focused on addressing important environmental issues.

Well, after leaving Eagle Rock, Rutherford did ride his mountain bike across those three Southeast Asian countries. He did sail across an ocean (in fact, he became the first person in history to complete a nonstop, single-handed voyage circumnavigating North and South America; that’s 309 days and 27,077 miles on the ocean without stepping ashore even briefly to stretch his legs). And he did start a not-for-profit organization that’s deeply focused on positively impacting the environment — the Ocean Research Project aims to identify new, lower-cost methods of conducting ocean-based research.

Burkhardt said he tried to get in touch with Rutherford last month to find out what this grad was up to these days, and the former student’s voicemail recording announced he wasn’t taking messages. It suggested callers ring back after Feb. 1.

By Feb. 3, Rutherford’s voicemail box was Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Graduates Four More Good Citizens

Editor’s Note: In today’s post, our own Public Allies Fellow for the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center – Mary Reid Munford – introduces you to Eagle Rock’s latest graduates: Diego Matamoros, Grace Huang, Tiana Matos, and Tehya Brown.

Growing up in Miami, Diego Matamoros switched schools often. When he finally settled on a local public high school, he didn’t do well. “I was never one of those straight A students,” Diego said. “I was always getting Cs and constantly getting in fights with my mom about it.”

Diego was making music, skateboarding, hanging out with friends, and progressively doing more drugs. “The more I used drugs recreationally,” Diego explained, “the more anxiety I would have in school, and the more I would rationalize not being a good student and blame it on the school.”

His counselor recommended Diego enroll in an Outward Bound course, and although it provided a good break and school credit, he slipped back into his old habits when he got home. After his mom caught him skipping school during his senior year, she pulled him out.

It was at that time that he considered attending Eagle Rock, an option first suggested by his Outward Bound instructors. He was already 18 years old and two weeks away from earning his GED, but after a “great conversation” with our own director of students, Philbert Smith, Diego began seriously considering a move across the country to enroll and complete his high school education.

The transition to life at Eagle Rock was far from seamless, Diego admitted. He suffered several setbacks, including leaving early one trimester due to medical issues and then skipping the next. In the end, he credits the supportive community and the help of key figures like his houseparent, Jesse Tovar, who also serves as Eagle Rock’s health and wellness counselor. “Jesse has always been the most supportive figure,” Diego said. “He’s helped guide me, helped me maneuver through the system — but he’s also helped me remain myself while going through this transformation.”

Eagle-Rock-School-ER61It was during an internship over breaks from Eagle Rock that Diego learned about aromatherapy and living a holistic lifestyle. And he says he might return to this work in the future. He also credits music as one way he’s learned greater life skills. “Living according to Eagle Rock’s ‘Eight Plus Five Equals Ten’ philosophy… it emphasizes the super important things,” Diego explained. “One of them for me is nurturing being an artist. I do that by playing music. It’s a whole kind of way to practice the techniques of life – carefulness, listening…”

Diego plans to combine these interests next year as he applies to colleges in New England and the Midwest to learn more about music therapy.

Grace Huang was 11 years old when an American family adopted her. After spending her childhood in La Paz, Bolivia, she flew across the globe to start a new life in Boston, Mass. She attended school there until two years ago, opting to make another move — this time across the country to boarding school in Colorado.

Grace transferred to Eagle Rock for a more individualized and less distracting learning environment than her home school could offer. “I came to Eagle Rock to have a place to be able to learn at my pace and really understand what I’m learning,” she explained, “And also to really focus on personal and academic growth instead of everything else.”

As with most students, the transition to communal living was the most challenging aspect of Grace’s move. “The hardest part was having to be in a community with people I’m not used to or want to be around,” she said.

After six trimesters spent attending courses and living on campus at Eagle Rock, Grace cites her academic learning as one of the most powerful ways she has grown here. “Teachers have forced me to Continue reading…

Orbiting The Rock: The Eagle Rock Alumni Association Takes Flight

The quaking aspen leaves basked on the Eagle Rock esplanade, maximizing their sunlight intake as they reveled in the longest day of the year. Shortly after the summer solstice sun set on that June 21 day, the Eagle Rock campus was drenched by a “supermoon.” That’s when a full moon reaches its closest point to the Earth each year.

These big and beautiful celestial events were befitting for a gathering of 10 Eagle Rock School alumni — tasked with initiating a process to connect and maintain the orbits of every Eagle Rocker arriving through the gate over the past two decades.

When people live and work in the Eagle Rock community, tight bonds are formed, and many of these close associations continue well after walking out that same gate to the next stages of their lives. Head of School Jeff Liddle believes a family that has been growing for 20 years needs some extra help in order to remain close—keeping our orbit around the Rock. Liddle and five of Eagle Rock’s Public Allies fellows formed an alumni engagement focus group intent on bringing former students, staff, and fellows for a weekend together to formulate plans to build our alumni network.

The weekend was highlighted by eating delicious meals in the Lodge (the vegan sausage and peppers were my favorite), watching an impressive production of the play In the Blood, and playing a rousing game of soccer with a Shaman versus Bonepipe mash-up. My lungs struggled to keep up with the high-altitude dwellers. The crux of the weekend was the time we spent discussing and planning ways to engage Eagle Rock School alumni.

Friday evening we listened to a group of Continue reading…