Eagle Rock Students Embark on Second Batch of Non-traditional Classes

The second half of this trimester at Eagle Rock School is underway this week with students embarking on new classroom experiences ranging from poetry to piano to percussion to prime numbers. This marks the middle of our 73rd trimester since the school was founded in the early 1990s.

The final day of class is Friday, Dec. 8, and Presentations of Learning (POLs) take place on Monday, Dec. 11 and Tuesday, Dec. 12. Ceremonies for those graduating from this trimester will be held on Friday, Dec. 15.

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Below is a rundown of the five-week classes offered now through early-December, along with a 10-week class where students are halfway through an intense Spanish language enterprise:

Sacrificial Poets — In this class, fledgling poets are reading, writing, watching and performing spoken-word poetry — all the while exploring their identities, refining their writing and analytical skills, developing performance and public speaking abilities, and building self-confidence.

Students enrolled in this class are traveling off campus to watch nationally renowned poets from the Denver Youth Poetry Team, Minor Disturbance, and poets from around the United States perform in poetry slams and open-mic nights. They are using storytelling techniques, powerful imagery, figurative language and literary devices to write and perform their own brand of poetry.

The end results of all this work will be a published anthology of poetry and the chance to perform in a Denver open-mic night or poetry slam.

Piano Studio — Highlighting this class is the opportunity for class participants to either start or continue learning how to play the piano. These new or novice pianists are practicing piano technique, music reading, basic music theory, and basic composition. With lessons performed on electric keyboards, students are learning at their own pace and will soon be performing various pieces and songs ranging from classical to popular at their own performance level.

The music class concludes with performances in class and a music gathering planned on campus later this fall for the Eagle Rock community.

Cryptology — Prime numbers have puzzled and amazed mathematicians for centuries. This students in this class are exploring the mathematics behind secret messages and the role they have played in history. The branch of mathematics taught in this class is called number theory, which assumes only the knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Traditionally not taught until college, number theory is an exploration into the heart of mathematics. This class is intended to solidify students’ math skills and offer a love of puzzles. Prime numbers are what protect every piece of information that is sent over the Internet — including pictures, emails, and passwords. And behind all this is a long story of coders and hackers fighting a battle to secure information. It is the outcome of such battles that have an effect on our society and continue to play an important role in how we share information.

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Through the Looking Glass — We’re using Lewis Carroll’s book, “Through the Looking Glass” as a vessel for students to dive right into the arts and look within themselves. Our young artists are expressing their style through clay, glass, photography, printmaking and painting.

They are discovering their own unique style through visual art, creative writing, reading, and journaling. The idea is for them to develop a sense of their creative self and explore what it means to be an artist. This harkens back to Lewis Carroll, when he wrote, “I can’t go back to yesterday — because I was a different person then” (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865).

The class concludes with students creating a public “Expo of Art” for the Eagle Rock community.

Speaking Drum — The first task in this class was for students to put together their own drum set and then write down and tell a story through their new percussion instruments.

Drummers with and without experience are enrolled in this class where they are learning music theory, percussion technique, composition theory, and storytelling. The practice pad they are developing is being used for skill building, and the end result of the class is to collectively compose a piece for the edification of fellow students and the Estes Park community.

Math 4 Life — Day to day financing matters such as saving money, manage a bank account, filing a tax return, and creating a personal budget are subjects that are discussed only briefly in many schools. But this class has students learning how to successfully and responsibly plan for life issues in the all-too near future.

In addition to banking issues, students are pursuing answers to questions such as how to find an apartment, how to find a job, where the best deals are for a used car and how to pay for school incidentals.

The primary objective of this class is to help students prepare for success in their lives after Eagle Rock School.

Astronomy — A good working knowledge of astronomy entails much more than memorizing the names of planets and galaxies. In this class, students are exploring the origins of our celestial neighbors, including stars, moons, planets, black holes, comets and asteroids.

They are learning about the theory of gravity and how it affects objects in space, identifying and taking evening star walks to make observations about what we see in the night sky and learn how to identify constellations and other features.

The class ends with participating students hosting a community star walk to bring people together and teach them the science behind what they see in the night sky.

Weight Lifting — In this class, students are exploring both the benefits and challenges of weight lifting, including muscle development and muscle endurance. They are gaining perspective on ways to stay safe while gaining strength, and they will gain an understanding of what goes on with the body with such training.

The idea is for participants to leave this class with a personalized weight-training program that they develop themselves, backed by personal research and best practices.

Mockingbird — Readers in this class are finding out what it means to be a good person by examining the class Harper Lee novel,To Kill a Mockingbird.”

In an analysis of moral and ethical development, students in this class are considering the people, places, things and ideas that affect the protagonist’s development throughout the book. Then they’ll compare their own morality and ethics with that of the book’s narrator, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch.

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Of much interest will be diving into the history of the Depression and Jim Crow era that plagued our nation in the 1920s. Students will also explore how such prejudice and injustice might still exist today.

Borders & Identity — Finally, five Eagle Rock students are at the halfway mark on a 10-week class that has enabled them to explore their own identities through the lens of political views, human stories and the visible and invisible walls that individuals and nations construct between themselves. (See: This ‘Language Class’ Offers More Than Just A Brush Up On Spanish.)

In this class, the students continue to practice speaking and writing in Spanish, with the goal of actively helping build bridges between people and communities. Tied into this class is the concept of “Enduring Understanding,” which is a guiding idea behind every class at Eagle Rock School. Also referred to as our “10-year Takeaway,” Enduring Understanding asks us to consider what it is students will remember about this class and their learning in 10 years.

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