Introducing Eagle Rock School’s Latest Graduates

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Springtime graduations are among our favorite times of year at Eagle Rock School. It’s an event that coincides with mother birds nudging their young offspring out of the nest, and no, the irony does not escape those of us who educationally nurture these young folks.

In the case of our latest grads — who take the stage starting at 4pm MT on Friday, April 10, 2015 — we’re celebrating the successful completion of the Eagle Rock experience for four inspiring high school graduates, including Song Candea, Sonja Stolmar, Maya West, and Hunter Gantz.


Below is a little background on each, and even a piece of advice from these veteran Eagle Rockers:

Song Candea joined us in ER 57 (the 57th trimester of Eagle Rock) and has been an active member in the Eagle Rock community ever since. He hails from Niwot, Colorado, and resided in Aspen House throughout his three years here.

Song has been described as an incredibly strong leader who leads by example, taking every opportunity given to him to grow as an individual. Because of this mentality, he was recently selected as the Student Wilderness Instructor for the incoming students of ER 64.

His success in his roles with the Outdoor Education department is paving the way for future student involvement. And with this passion for the outdoors he is seeking to major in Outdoor Education while attending Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs, beginning this fall. Song also showed his talents as an active member of the musical improvisation ensemble, choir, as well as acting in the play In the Blood.

Song’s advice for all the educators reading this: “Teach students what they want to learn and they will learn it.”

Hunter Gantz is another Colorado native — from Boulder — who also joined us in ER 57. Hunter was immediately drawn to the multitude of music and performance opportunities on campus — from musicals to choir and a cappella, and poetry slams.

Hunter was in the Eagle Rock theater productions of RENT, In The Heights, and Spring Awakening. Through this extensive involvement in our music and theater offerings, Hunter demonstrated great advances in his self-confidence and personal growth. He lived in Lodgepole House and is proud of the role he played in making Eagle Rock an inclusive, safe space for transgender students to reside.

A fun fact not many people know about Hunter is that he is an identical twin. After graduation he plans to travel the world and is particularly excited to see New Zealand and Iceland.

Hunter would like all educators to recognize the importance of students’ learning styles, and create opportunities for all to thrive and truly absorb the content that is being taught.

Maya West arrived during ER 58, joining the ranks of Juniper House, where she found her voice and her passion for social justice. While at Eagle Rock she held a leadership role in a student activist group called Peace Jam.

This passion of activism rolled over into her other community involvement, which extended beyond Eagle Rock. One of her favorite memories was being a part of COSPA (Colorado Student Power Alliance), which fed her hunger to learn about social justice issues, women’s rights, and socio-economic statuses, and how they all impact our everyday lives.

Maya is originally from Hawaii and now has established roots here in Colorado. She admits a passion for spicy food — from Mexican to Indian — and would jump with joy when the chefs would make her favorite dish. Her objectives after Eagle Rock include admission to Naropa University in Boulder to study natural health and psychology.

Maya’s piece of advice to people in education: “Do not just educate students to fit into the current social system; rather, educate them to be a better whole self and be an engaged citizen in their community.”

Sonja Stolmar graced Eagle Rock with her passion and desire to learn, joining Ponderosa House in ER 57 from Boulder, Colo. Sonja demonstrated to other students how to truly take charge of their learning experience, whether through an intricate self-designed quilt examining the geometry of creating, or through a self-guided independent study in which she taught her peers about astronomy.

One of her favorite pastimes as a student has been hiking the trails on campus, and intentionally carving out the time in nature to “examine what actual happiness is versus what we’re conditioned to believe should bring us positive sensation.”

This fall, Sonja will be going out to Taos, N.M., to the Earth Ship Academy where she will learn how to build her own house. She has also been inspired to use the knowledge gained at Eagle Rock to get her Wilderness First Responder certification. And though her college search continues, her dream school is Quest University near Squamish, British Columbia, with goals to work in the cause of sustaining healthy communities.

Sonja strongly believes that students don’t just pick up on course work; they also pick up on the attitudes and ethics of their teachers. With this philosophy, she feels it is imperative for educators to put themselves out there as a person, and to teach by interacting and connecting with their students.

As you can imagine, we are incredibly proud of our ER 65 graduating class and cannot wait to see how they continue to apply their passions gained at Eagle Rock in their future endeavors. To watch this Friday’s graduation ceremony live online

Please — if you’re compelled to — leave a comment or two for the graduates of ER 65, in the space below! 

Note: If you’d like to watch ER 65’s graduation ceremony live online, visit the following website address — — starting at 4pm Mountain Time on Friday, April 10.

Comments (3)

  1. Justin Pollack says:

    Congratulations Graduates!! We’re looking forward to seeing your contributions to our little planet in the future, and thank you for all you have done so far.

  2. Mikal Belicove says:

    Congratulations too all of this trimester’s graduates. You’re a really accomplished and impressive group!

    To Song Candea: Your advice to educators (“Teach students what they want to learn and they will learn it.”) is profound. It speaks to finding an authentic connection between what the learner wants and what the educator needs to teach. Never thought about it those terms. Thanks!

  3. Kellee Greenberg says:

    I was told about your school from a former wilderness instructor that I just met. I couldn’t stop reading the blogs and information on your site. So much of your philosophy resonated with me. Your four graduates are inspiring. I’m so pleased that a school such as your exists!

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