Eagle Rock School Continues to Place the Focus on Literacy and Literature

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You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” ~ James Baldwin (American novelist, playwright, and activist)

For more than five decades, educators throughout the United States have taken Baldwin’s comments to heart, stressing the importance of reading and words to allow students to navigate their future.

Poet Edgar Kunz visits Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colo.

And, indeed, literacy and literature — which we believe helps students unleash their imaginations, relate to the world around them, and actualize their literacy skills — is forefront in the curriculum at Eagle Rock School, with hands-on experiences such as the one I am attempting to pass on to my students this trimester. Called Adventure Writing, this is the latest class delivered through an experiential education context that emphasizes the importance of reading and writing.

Most recently, a class called Continue reading…

New Event Celebrates Student Successes at the Halfway Mark

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At Eagle Rock School, we place the same value on personal growth as we do our insistence on academic success. Over the course of their time here, there are countless opportunities for our students to challenge themselves and develop their own character.

This trimester, we’re piloting a celebration to recognize students’ personal growth at the half-way point of their time here. It takes an abundance of commitment and dedication to become successful at Eagle Rock, and we find it often takes about a year for our students to fully find their groove here. Thus, our new Mid-Career Celebration is what we’re blogging about today.

Eagle Rock School students achieve growth in many ways, including by learning about, experiencing, and practicing effective communication skills, dealing with conflict, and embodying a centering practice. For example, students begin their Eagle Rock School career with a month-long wilderness course focusing on not only becoming part of a community but becoming comfortable with one’s self.

Upon their return to campus, these new students immediately begin the practice of effective communication and teamwork. And they do that while residing in a diverse community and participating in such non-volunteer tasks as Continue reading…

Second Half of Eagle Rock School’s 78th Trimester Gets Underway

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We’re entering the second half of our 78th trimester, and as promised in our post about this trimester’s first grouping of classes (see: Here’s Some of What We’re Learning This Trimester at Eagle Rock School), we’re now publishing a follow-up post featuring a rundown of the classroom offerings for this particular portion of the school year. Call it ER 78: The Sequel, if you will.

Each of our classes is carefully contemplated, curated and contained within our curriculum — constructed specifically for students seeking a purpose in school and in life. It’s an approach that has worked continuously for the past 25 or so years for the young people who are studying hard and experiencing a new life with and through the Eagle Rock community.

Without further ado, here’s what we’re tackling on the backside of ER 78 (the 78th trimester since our founding in the early 1990s): Continue reading…

Explore Week Sends Eagle Rock Students in Search of Adventure and Learning

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This trimester, the Eagle Rock student body finds itself in pursuit of several outdoor adventures among the half-dozen or so Explore Week course offerings. The wilderness-style courses include camping and canoeing along two popular rivers, as well as another adventure course that features instruction — and participation — in some serious mountain biking.

Also among courses underway this week are a pair of hands-on projects that promise to improve the appearance of our 640-acre campus, including a group-participation mural to grace a wall near our Human Performance Center, and a spruce up for a new on-campus construction project that’s nearing completion.

Here’s what’s going over this five-day period, both on and off campus:

Mountain biking — There’smuch more to mountain biking then just hopping on a saddle and pedaling up or downhill, as students in this Explore Week course are learning. Among the tasks our students are choosing to take on are how to assess an entire mountain bike for mechanical issues, how to adjust wheel bearings, how to change a tube, and how to adjust shifting and brakes for optimal performance on the trail. In addition, students have been spending time each day riding bikes, with longer rides facing them at the end of the week.

The instructor for this course is Devin Konecny, who has a 15-year background in experimental plasma physics, computer diagnostics, machining, and Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Citizen Scientists Monitoring Our Changing Environment

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For the first five weeks of this trimester, six Eagle Rock School students have partnered with staff at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) for the launch of its citizen science initiative — Lily Lake Phenology.

Phenology, which is vital to many aspects of society, is the study of the timing of biological life cycles (nature’s calendar, if you will). Things like budding leaves, blooming flowers, or migration of animal species. So, why should high school students care about any of this? Because long- and short-term changes in areas such as animal migration and flowering are related to our weather and climate patterns. With more information about how plants are reacting to the climate, national park staff can make informed decisions on how to manage species that might be at risk.

At the first data collection site, Eagle Rock School student Hendrick looks for catkins and leaf buds on a willow with RMNP Superintendent, Darla Sidles.

Sound like a worthwhile project? Of course, it is. Especially when you consider that seasonal changes in plants and animals happen quickly and require sustained and frequent observation to monitor.

That’s where our students, serving in the role of citizen scientists come into the picture. For two days each week, students in our Phenology of Lily Lake class take a Continue reading…