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 Dorothy and Toto and the gang as she tries to make her way back to Kansas. Along the way, she meets many characters who teach her what it means to have a brain, a heart, courage, and finding your home. In this course, students develop basic singing and acting concepts through a character’s perspective. This is a rigorous course that tests beginning and advanced students in the development of their performance skills. Among the commitments are weekly rehearsals (class), final week dress rehearsals, and attendance at a variety of professional performances — including a series of stage performances of The Wiz” in April. Students also take on a professional production role (costuming, make up, set construction, etc), and participate in a final cast dinner and reflection. (Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, Michael Grant and Brighid Scanlon are teaching this class.)

Winter Ecology:  In this class, we’re studying the ecological relationships that animals and plants bring to survive the winter months. Students investigate these relationships as well as the local mountain ecosystem here in Colorado. In particular, we are studying what creatures live there and how they adapt to life in winter conditions. Students experience cold, windy, wintery conditions, twice a week, skiing on a variety of trails and terrain in Rocky Mountain National Park. (Jon Anderson and Ally Bolger are teaching this class.)

Other Worlds: Students mentally step down on the landscapes of deep space, ancient kingdoms and alternate realities through reading and analyzing literature and film from the science fiction, fantasy and dystopian genres. They are exploring the elements that authors and directors use to transport their audience from this world into another. As a result, students are asked to create their own mysterious worlds through imagination and writing. (Daniel Hoffman and Brett Youngerman are teaching this class.)

Sacrificial Poets: In Sacrificial Poets, students read, write, watch and perform spoken word poetry while exploring their identity, refining their writing and analytical skills, developing performance and public speaking abilities, and building self-confidence. Often, we go off campus to watch nationally renowned poets from the Denver youth poetry team and poets from around the country as they perform in poetry slams and open-mic nights. They learn how to use storytelling techniques, powerful imagery, figurative language and literary devices to write and perform their own poetry. And they receive feedback on a daily basis. Finally, students invest out-of-class time to read, write and practice their poetic prose. So what’s the payback for all this hard work? Students create a published anthology of poetry and the opportunity to perform in a Denver open-mic night or poetry slam. (Daniel Hoffman is teaching this class.)

Lifeguarding: For many accomplished swimmers, a summer job as a lifeguard is a dream come true. For high school students, it’s a well-paying job that is transferable to any area of the world. This class takes a look at the role of a lifeguard, the components of a rescue, pool safety, risk management and rescue skills. Students learn and practice First Aid and CPR skills, exploring different first aid scenarios and situations. And successful complete the course can lead to certification in First Aid and CPR with the Red Cross, as well as possible Lifeguard certification. (Chris Iafrati and Aranda Salazar are teaching this class.)

The Future of Food: This class sees students growing fruits and vegetables without the benefit of soil. How is that possible, you ask? Each student is teamed with a partner to research, design, build, and care for their own hydroponics or aquaponics system. They are learning about current movements in food sustainability, the biology and chemistry of ecosystems, and how to monitor and adjust for the health of their system. After students apply what they are learning, they will create an aquaponics/hydroponics system in the Eagle Rock School greenhouse. (Janet Johnson and Ally Bolger are teaching this class.)

Check back in early March for a profile of eleven additional classes being offered this trimester. From “Alternate Energy” and “Holocaust & Indigenous Genocide”, to “Street Art as Social Action” and “Human Sexuality”, the classes offered at Eagle Rock School truly do engage the unengaged.

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Dan Condon

Dan Condon

About The Author: Dan Condon is an education activist who currently serves as  associate director of professional development at the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center. Dan’s writing has been featured online in The Huffington Post and in print in the 2014 National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE) Yearbook that’s entitled Engaging Youth in Schools: Empirically-Based Models to Guide Future Innovations.

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