For those of us who are fortunate to make Eagle Rock School a daily experience, we’re well into our 72nd trimester, which means our students are participating in a mixed brew of classes not often found in traditional high schools.
As has been the since the early 1990s, Eagle Rock’s curriculum offers its student body a selection of subjects from which to choose — most of them far removed from the reading, writing and arithmetic formulas often employed by schools that can curtail the creative juices that prompt students to want to learn. In fact, here at Eagle Rock, we tout ourselves as a “leader in the nationwide effort to re-engage youth in their own education.”
The emphasis is on “their own education,” which means our students are taking classes that will serve them well into the future, which may include as college students, employees, entrepreneurs, guardians of the environment, or just good citizens engaged in their own communities.
Here then is our second offering of unique and non-traditional classes currently being tackled by our 15- to 18-year olds:
Psych Rocks: In this class, students are exploring the perception of challenge, risk, and fear through the lens of adventure activity. The idea is to get the students to step outside their comfort zone. Designed to challenge students mentally, physically and emotionally, the Eagle Rockers enrolled in this class are learning the technical skills and risk management challenges common to rock climbing. They will also create and foster their own small community during a weeklong climbing trip to Vedauwoo, Wyo., where students will explore — among other things — geology and themselves.
Photosynthesis of Writing: In this class, potential green thumbs are nurturing plants and soil and learning how greenery contributes to the well-being of the select ecosystems. Through intensive research, students are learning how the environment is connected to their everyday lives, as well as how to express their own opinions on environmental concerns. The plan is students learn how to raise awareness by creating persuasive literature for government officials and the public.
Run for Your Life: Whether on the road or off the trail, rain or shine, willing or forcing themselves, student in this class are hitting the deck daily, participating in one of the most basic of human functions. They are discovering the beauty of movement and how their body changes and adapts to stress and work, and learning how to analyze their running form and develop a workout plan to help achieve their objectives. The end goal is for the students enrolled in this class is to participate in an organized foot race.
Exploring Higher Ed: In this class, students are examining the impacts and struggles those of color face while engaged in higher education. They are taking a close look at the events, court rulings and movements that have shaped the culture of higher education and its evolution. And they are exploring the implications for Eagle Rock students and considering ways to improve how our school best prepares graduates for higher education opportunities.
Go Figure: Creating an accurate representation of the human body is no easy task. It requires mathematical reasoning with proportions, ratios, and scaling as well as knowledge of human anatomy. As a result, students enrolled in this class are building on the history of figure drawing by practicing with new mediums. In addition, they are designing a gallery space to showcase work with the community. As a class, these young artists will engage with both contemporary and historical drawings to guide their practice in figure drawing. Through practice, these students are taking the opportunity to draw from life and, as a result, grow as artists.
Poetic Justice: Students taking this class are practicing reading, writing, viewing and performing spoken-word poetry — all the while exploring their own identities, refining their writing and analytical skills, developing performance and public speaking abilities, and building self-confidence. The class entails travel to hear nationally renowned poets from the Denver Youth Poetry Team and poets from around the country perform in poetry slams and open-mic nights. And after learning how to use storytelling techniques, powerful imagery, figurative language and literary devices, students will create and publish an anthology of their work. They’ll also perform — on stage — in a Denver open-mic night, poetry slam, or Brave New Voices competition.
Climate Change — The Numbers: Many climate scientists suggest global warming is the result of human expansion of the “greenhouse effect.” This means our planet is getting hotter and humans are largely to blame. Students in this class are learning how to analyze and interpret climate change data and develop action plans to help lessen its effects. Through trips around the state of Colorado, students are visiting organizations where scientists are working to understand the causes, effects and responses to climate change. Our students will then analyze the impact Eagle Rock School is having on climate change and identify action steps to address that impact.
Rocky Mountain National Park Internship: Students who have been accepted into the Rocky Mountain National Park internship program are currently involved in service learning projects in a variety of divisions within the park system, including trails, recycling, fire fuels reduction, visitor education and more. For some, this experience can develop into a part-time paycheck during the August/September school break.