Eagle Rock Poets Net Last-minute Spot in National Poetry Slam

The name of the class was Poetic Justice, and the Eagle Rock School students enrolled last trimester received a little poetic justice of their own earlier this year by snaring a position in a big-time poetry slam in San Francisco.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a poetry slam is a competition at which poets recite or read original work. Poetry slamming began in Chicago in the mid-80’s when performance poet Marc Kelly Smith began experimenting with open mic night and venues for poetry readings by making them competitive.

My students knew it was a long shot when we applied for a slot in the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, which was held last month in San Francisco. After all, we’d never performed or participated in slams outside Colorado’s Front Range. On top of that, we’re a fairly small school, and we’re new to big-time spoken-word poetry competition.

(Photo ©2017 Daniel Schaefer of Outlier Imagery)

(Photo ©2017 Daniel Schaefer of Outlier Imagery)

Nevertheless, we applied to participate, and the festival’s powers-that-be graciously placed us on a waiting list. Then at the last moment, our school was pulled off the wait list and we were welcomed to participate into the four-day mid-July festival.

Student Engagement Through Spoken-word Poetry

This was indeed a highlight for a classroom of students who — on a daily basis — express their passion for poetry by reading, writing, viewing and performing all things related to spoken-word composition. In conjunction with what they are learning, our students also explored their own Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Staffers Look Back on their Favorite Education-themed Films

For many people, a good movie provides the perspective of being an outsider looking in, adding new insight to a particular issue or event. For others, it’s just an opportunity to sit back and enjoy something entertaining.

Film-Reel

Regardless, movies are a valuable art form that can be used to educate, inspire and demand change. In the spirit of celebrating all that cinema has to offer, Eagle Rock staff members recently reflected on their favorite education-themed movies.

Here are their thoughts on the cinema in education:

Film: Once – Directed by John Carney
Commentary by: Jen Frickey, Director of Curriculum

The film musical Once follows a vacuum repairman who spends his evenings busking on the street by playing guitar and singing. A Czech immigrant comes across this musician and asks him if he can repair her broken vacuum. The woman is also a songwriter but spends most her time performing odd jobs and taking care of her mother and daughter.

As the pair gets to know each other, the Czech girl agrees to help the part-time street musician as he writes and records a demo tape in hopes of landing a music contract. The two learn about each other’s past lovers and profess their newly found love for each other — all through the songs they’re writing.

While not a typical ‘education movie’ about teaching and learning, Once is a beautiful story of how common interests and passion can bring people together and create amazing results. It reminds me of how important it is that we Continue reading…

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Eagle Rock’s Take on ‘The Wiz’

Eagle Rock School students and faculty members are busy rehearsing for a series of performances of the Tony Award-winning 1975 musical, “The Wiz,” which are scheduled in Estes Park at month’s end.

The Wiz Eagle Rock SchoolOur production of “The Wiz” (March 31-April 2, 2016) is an urban retelling of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” using Motown, Funk and Soul music to rework the story into the context of modern African-American culture. A film adaption of the show was released in 1978, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Eleven talented Eagle Rock students and four staff members will perform in our staged version, backed by a live four-piece professional pit band. Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, Eagle Rock School’s Music Instructional Specialist, directs the show, with co-direction by World Languages Instructional Specialist Brighid Scanlon and musical direction by 2015/2016 Public Allies Teaching Fellow Michael Grant.

Performances will be staged beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31 as well as Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2 at the Hempel Auditorium within the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Admission at the door is “pay what you like” and all proceeds benefit the Eagle Rock Graduate Higher Education Fund.

But we digress. The story of Dorothy and her road trip to Oz has become known worldwide for its themes of home, belonging, belief in oneself and freedom. “The Wiz,” with its original premiere in 1975 with an all-black cast and African-American styles, boldly showed that this classic story belongs to everyone, with audiences of all races flocking to watch productions of “The Wiz” over the past four decades. In addition to be culturally empowering, it is a “joy machine,” gorgeously designed, with quick humor and irresistible melodies.

Preparations for our production began last fall with a Continue reading…

Winter Classes Range from Musicals and Murals to Soilless Gardening

erslogo2Eagle Rock’s busy student body is already well into the winter trimester, with many among them enjoying a number of class offerings — most of them new — that promise to challenge their intellect and maybe even spark interest in an avocation, adventure or activity that can last an entire lifetime.

Ten-week classes sprinkled among the mix for ER 68 (our 68th semester since our founding of Eagle Rock School in the early 1990s) include:

La Telenovela: In this class, which we first offered in the fall of 2014, students analyze and create their own Spanish-language “soap opera” episodes. By doing so, they are gaining insight into telenovela structure, characters and themes by viewing real telenovelas. (For the uninitiated, a telenovela is a type of limited-run serial drama and popular on European, West Asian, Southeast Asian, Latin American, East Asian, South Asian, Arab World, Brazil, Portuguese and Spanish television networks.) By watching these programs, students are refining their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in Spanish, which is enhanced by working together on their Spanish in the classroom. As a final project, students will be asked to script and film their own telenovelas — themselves portraying the characters as well as completing all of the required behind-the-scenes production work. They will work on acting as well as filming and directing techniques to produce the final episode. (Brighid Scanlon is teaching this class.)

Data Analysis: In this class, which first appeared at Eagle Rock School in the spring of 2015, students are beginning to explore data sets, looking for patterns and using statistics to answer student-generated questions. Each student explores one question, researching data that will help answer that question. By analyzing the information, they can communicate their newfound knowledge using infographics, written articles, presentation or blogs. Experts in the field, peers, and Eagle Rock staff will review the work and provide feedback for the inevitable revision. (Becky Poore and Helen Higgins are teaching this class.)

Five-week classes offered this trimester include:

101 Years of Murals: This all-day class presents students with the opportunity to appreciate what murals can teach us, communicate and add vitality to our lives. Students are part of a hard-working team with an emphasis on leadership that is designing and painting a mural in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We are learning how to use different mural techniques to create Part 2 in a series of murals. Students in this class are already capable at drawing — or are teachable — and they’re all willing to take risks. This class promises a lot of hard work, but it also promises to yield a lot of new skills as well as possible connections that may benefit them in the future. (Cindy Elkins and Claire Oliphant are teaching this class.)

RMNP Mural ER65

The Wiz” Musical: Ease on down the road with Continue reading…

Residential Life at Eagle Rock School Explained

Student housing at Eagle Rock School has always been an exercise in evolutionary change and this trimester promises to be no different. Among the biggest draws to our campus are the living arrangements we offer our students, providing them with an atmosphere that is warm and non-threatening; in a word, supportive.

There are six student houses here on our mountainside campus — each housing seven boys and seven girls in separate wings — and each supported by a pair of house parents. In recent years, we eliminated a student bed, wardrobe, desk and chair from each wing in order to give our students a little more elbow room.

Eagle Rock School Living Village

Eagle Rock School Living Village

What remains is a team structure within each house that provides students with ample opportunities for interpersonal growth, as well as the lessons that arise from sustained group activities such as intramural sports, service projects, chores, house dinners, outings and retreats.

In addition to house parents within each residential dwelling, our board recently approved adding a residential life coordinator position to the team here at Eagle Rock. Our first such coordinator is J. Jacques Fournet, II, who is tasked with supporting and evolving the residential life experience. Jacques brings an elevated focus to residential life with the ultimate goal of helping us become more responsive to student needs.

Here’s a rundown on how the individual houses looked before the beginning of this trimester: Continue reading…