Eagle Rock’s Students Step Up to the Plate for the Estes Park Community

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One of the most important endeavors we undertake here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is to instill in our student population a sense of being of service to others. More specifically, we attempt to drive home the concept of “giving back to the community” as a lifelong habit for those who might become the nation’s future leaders or its active citizens.

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This notion of “becoming a better person through service to others,” dates back to Eagle Rock’s beginnings more than two decades ago. To that end, we continue to start off each trimester with an activity we called EagleServe — two full days of campus and community activities that involve each of our students and many of our staff members.

EagleServe connects our campus with our neighbors through service projects intended to help not only the Eagle Rock community, but nearby Estes Park and the greater Estes Valley. These well-planned events took place last Thursday and Friday, highlighted by students working side by side with community members at large.

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EagleServe 71 (the 71 represents the 71st trimester since the school’s founding back in 1993) began Thursday, Jan. 19, with the theme “Solution Focused Leadership” (SFL).

Students and staff members met bright and early in the Hearth area of the Lodge, then split up into project work groups. After lunch, students in each project group began the two-hour process of researching their particular group and coming up with a game plan.

Below are the project groups and their participants:

International Pen Pals: Global Learning: Students researched and developed a writing project involving written exchange with young people from other cultures and countries. Christi Kelston (Director of Public Allies) and Omar Arteaga (2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Residential Life) were the staff representatives for this group of students that included Ella, Lydia, Carolina, Mea and Rahmel.

Care For The Lodge: Leadership for Justice: Students in this group developed a plan for influencing how students use, care for, value, appreciate, and organize Eagle Rock’s Lodge. This includes the Airlocks, Hearth, Loft, Kitchen, Dining Area (inside and out) and Alcoves. Staff members Mark Dougherty (Head Chef/Instructor), Becky Poore (Math Instructional Specialist) and Helen Higgins (2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Math) helped direct students Soren, Matt, Brianna, Barbara and Amari.

Eagle Rock School Lodge

Meditation & Centering: Making Healthy Life Choices: This group researched, planned and organized the ongoing opportunity for students and staff to develop skills and healthy practices in meditation and centering. Led by staff members Cindy Elkins (Art Instructional Specialist) and Jon Anderson (Human Performance and Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist), the group included students Evan, Morgan, Aviv, Edna, Cole and Sam.

Eagle Eye Paper & Blog: Serve Eagle Rock and other communities: These student planners developed a program to publish the new Eagle Rock community paper and blog. Students Djibril, Brett, Emeliano, Cameron, Mohammad and Jafar were led by staffers Eriq Acosta (Cultures And Societies Instructional Specialist) and Sebastian Franco (2016/2017 Professional Development Center Public Allies Fellow).

Health & Wellness: Making Healthy Life Choices: Cordell Church (2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Human Performance) and Joi Ward (2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Health, Wellness & Counseling) led students Chemi, Levi S., Myles, Amr, Gus, Marcus F. in a plan to develop and organize new and innovative health and wellness programs.

Music Production: Find, Nurture & Develop the Artist Within: This group prepared plans to expand student leadership and development of talent, opportunities and appreciation through music at Eagle Rock School. Josan Perales (World Languages Instructional Specialist) and Josue Quintana (2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Music) led the group, which included students Levy B., Anaya, Taj, Keny, Jefer and Alethea.

Education: For Connection: Making Healthy Life Choices: This group, which was charged with organizing to develop and deepen student involvement, voice and leadership in education at Eagle Rock, attracted student participants Marcus W-P, Maxim, Victor, Theara, Itxel and Xavier, led by staffers Bea Salazar (Life After Eagle Rock Instructional Specialist) and Sarah Bertucci (Professional Development Associate).

Public Speaking: Effective Communication: Finding a voice through developing the practice and skill of public speaking was the subject of this project group, which included students Anthony, Nigel, Courtney, Albert and Avante. Staff leaders were Aaron Segura (2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Curriculum) and Alexus Bell (2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Science).

Later on Thursday — from 2-4pm — students and staff gathered at numerous project sites across campus for a two-hour Getting Things Done session that included work at the art building, greenhouse and garden, woodshop, recycling area, HPC, the Lodge, Learning Resource center (LRC), the science building and the schoolhouse.

Friday’s EagleServe activities began with breakfast burritos in the kitchen. The theme for the day was Estes Park Day of Action and Service Learning. Students and staff members split up for a variety of events in the town of Estes Park, each planned to educate and involve our student participants.

Activities included:

Local GovernmentTown of Estes Park: Students learned about the mission and vision of the City of Estes Park by attending meetings of the Transportation Advisory Board and the Parks Advisory Board. After attending these meetings, students met with town staff members to offer insights — based on their experiences — on how the City of Estes Park can better connect with and engage the youth of Estes Park. Student participants included Lydia, Brett, Mohammad, Sam and Amari, led by staffers Aaron Segura and Cindy Elkins.

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Estes ThrivesEstes Park High School: Other Eagle Rock students learned about the Estes Thrives project, working with Estes Park High School students and brainstorming ideas on how to get the message about the Estes Thrives initiative out to all students in the community. Students Rahmel, Courtney, Levi B., Soren, Avante, Evan, Itxel and Edna participated in this group, led by Eagle Rock staffers Eriq Acosta and Cordell Church.

Visit Estes Park — Destination Marketing: Here, our students met with staff and board members of the Visit Estes Park organization to learn about how a service organization markets the natural beauty of the area and the local community to a regional, national and international audiences. Participants had the opportunity to share their ideas, impressions, and views about Estes Park — both from the viewpoint of tourists and members of the community. Dan Condon (Associate Director of Professional Development) led the group along with Josue Quintana (Public Allies Fellow in Music) , which included students Albert, Victor, Xavier, Aviv, Cameron, Marcus F., Theara and Carolina.

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Career Day: Here, students attended a career fair at the Estes Park Event Center Complex where they assisted adult career professionals get to their tables where they were issued name tags and gifts from Estes Park Middle School. Students were able to mix with these career professional, in addition to assisting attendees. Staffers Christi Kelston and Sebastian Franco led students Tajmahal, Anaya, Keny and Barbara.

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Environmental Awareness and Community DevelopmentEstes Valley Watershed Coalition: The four students in this group presented a watershed model to the middle schoolers in the morning and learned about how watershed changes impact local communities like Estes Park. Following was a decision-making meeting over engineering plans for the reconstruction of Fish Creek that our students got to sit and weigh in on. 2016/2017 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Residential Life, Omar Arteaga, helped students Morgan, Gus, Brianna and Cole for this event.

Partners in Learning — Estes Park Public Library: In this library event, Eagle Rock students helped with children’s story time set up and participated as observers, then discussed the purpose and benefits of this service with Estes Park Public Library children’s librarians. Students also helped repair and inventory discovery packs in the children’s library, and were able to connect with staff members in the circulation and technology departments about their jobs. Students Ella, Myles, Levi, Sage and Amr participated, along with staff member Becky Poore.

Children, Education and Community at the Bella Fortuna Community Center: Those of our students who chose to visit the Bella Fortuna childcare facility were tasked with helping to beautify the family waiting area. The students organized toys and cleaned the area, and also updated information provided by the facility to families. They then met with leaders of three local not-for-profits — The Estes Park Learning Place, EVICS (Estes Valley Investment in Childhood Services), and Partners Mentoring Youth — to share their work and engage in problem-solving dialogue. Bea Salazar led students Jafar, Max and Jefer in this activity.

Your Actions Today Create Tomorrow — Communities That Care: Five Eagle Rock School students attended a Communities That Care (CTC) meeting aimed toward community-wide alignment and evidence-based programming to support positive youth development and substance abuse prevention. Students were able to share their ideas for improving CTC activities in Estes Park, and participate in drafting a youth-centered vision statement. Eagle Rock staffer Josan Perales accompanied students Chemi, Nigel, Marcus W-P, Anthony and Djibril at this event.

Prospect Park Living Center: Participating students joined residents at Prospect Park Living Center (northern Colorado’s top rated nursing home, according to U.S. News & World Report) in their morning activities, including games, facials, and make-up and beauty tips. Students had lunch and additional interaction with the residential community members, as well as the center’s staff members. They also had the opportunity to return to the center for a “Roaring 20’s” party. Helen Higgins and Joi Ward accompanied students Matt, Mea, Emeliano and Alethea.

By late Friday afternoon, students and staffers returned to campus after presenting about their morning learning at Estes Park City Hall, each with at least one story about their participation in the many activities offered. At the very least, the two-day EagleServe tradition served as a sampling of the gratification anyone can receive from getting out of themselves and contributing to someone else’s wellbeing.

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