Eagle Rock Theatre Students Dare to Present ‘Spring Awakening’

Spring-AwakeningFar be it for Eagle Rock School’s Music and Performance Department to turn and walk away from the edgier side of musical theater. In fact, if you take a look at past performances, the department has produced and presented such controversial programs as Urinetown and Rent.

So it’s no surprise at all that Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon — our Music & Performance Instructional Specialist — has chosen to push the boundaries even further this year, offering up a presentation of Spring Awakening.

The production will be staged at the Rialto Theatre in Loveland (Colo.) beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1, with two more showings in the days that follow — Thursday, April 2 at 7 p.m., and Friday, April 3, also at 7 p.m. The cost of admission is at the discretion of the audience member, but keep in mind that proceeds benefit the Eagle Rock Graduate Fund — a cause that’s near and dear to all Eagle Rock students. The theater is located at 228 East 4th Street in Loveland.

And while this performance is definitely not suitable for children, there won’t be any body exposure and the overt sexuality is somewhat toned down. However, the show still contains plenty of adult content.

Here at Eagle Rock, we’re fortunate to have such a supportive administration. Spring Awakening tackles some really weighty issues that are very relatable to a lot of our students.


With book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik, Spring Awakening is by turns irreverent, poignant, boisterous and thoughtful. The authors made the unlikely decision to Continue reading…

New Metrics Initiative Taking Shape in New Mexico

The New Metrics Initiative in New Mexico was developed in partnership with Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, the McCune Portfolio and The Center for School Leadership with the goal of creating a “high quality school performance framework” as an innovative means of assessing schools.

This framework was created by a group of educators who are committed to ensuring student success, both in and outside the classroom.

The schools within the New Metric Initiative often work with students from tough situations — some have some discontinued schooling and/or are grade levels behind — which led to the creation of a New Metrics tool.

The initiative is the direct result of the challenge that confronts many schools in troubled districts, and that challenge is funding. While funds might easily reach recognized schools that show major transformations in districts that struggle with high attrition rates and poor test scores, that progress seldom is made clear in standardized testing.

Our staff recently had its second meeting with our partners and the six schools that are part of the New Metrics Initiative (Health Leadership, ACE Leadership, Amy Biehl High School, South Valley Academy, Native American Community AcademyAlbuquerque Sign Language Academy). We created four key pillars to guide us as we achieve this transformative work: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Participates in National Opportunity Summit

Opportunity-Nation-LogoProviding equal access to opportunity for all Americans is among the defining issues of our time. We here at Eagle Rock believe one of the most direct and powerful ways to accomplish this is to dramatically improve education and employment prospects for teens and young adults.

With that in mind, one of the things we’re excited about and supportive of, is the Opportunity Nation Plan that is focused on restoring opportunity for young people across the United States.

For the last three years, Opportunity Nation — a bipartisan, cross-sector,
national campaign to expand economic mobility and restore the American Dream — and its partners have been working to correct the fact that today, our nation’s youngsters face enormous levels of unemployment and disconnect. In late February, staff from Eagle Rock and nearly 300 other organizations joined arms at the National Opportunity Summit in Washington, D.C. to discuss these and other important issues.

A day prior to the summit, we met with a staff member of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) and U.S. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) to talk about how Eagle Rock is moving the Opportunity Nation Plan forward. We also met with U.S. House of Representatives member Jared Polis (D, Colo.), who’s previously visited Eagle Rock and is a fan of our work.

We pointed out to our members of Congress that in order to reach the objective of a national 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020, the focus has to be on dropout prevention and the re-engagement of recent dropouts and over-aged and under-credited students.

On that note, the current draft of the Opportunity Nation Plan seeks to create an alternative accountability system for non-traditional high school students and programs, and improve and expand credit recovery programs. Examples of work in this area include: flexible schedules; a reduction in seat time barriers through adaptive models; and, increased work-based learning time and competency/mastery-based credit award.

Opportunity Nation Coalition partners like Eagle Rock all have one common goal: Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock Art Instructional Specialist, Cindy Elkins

Cindy-Elkins-Eagle-Rock-SchoolTo Cindy Elkins’ way of thinking, she’s cornered the market on fun when it comes to her art instructional specialist calling here at Eagle Rock. Not only does she get to dabble in the arts every single day, but also she has the opportunity to watch students participate in the artistic process — and that includes the innovative and creative notions these kids come up with on any medium.

She’s also big on establishing art projects with Eagle Rock students that involve service to the communities surrounding our school. Along with the locals in Estes Park, Elkins and her students have painted the oval Jesus on the hillside downtown, help create the community unity tile mural in the tunnel next to Kind Coffee, and most recently, the painted mural at the Rocky Mountain National Park’s hotshot dorm.

Here are some other fascinating facets of this artist, mom and dog lover’s life:

Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock?

Cindy: Art and drama have always been exciting parts of my life. I taught art in the public school right out of college and offered private art lessons in ceramics and painting in a variety of settings. Prior and during college, I worked as a rafting photographer on the Colorado River and sold my pictures to tourists. Over 26 years of living in Estes Park, I have been very active in local dance and theater productions both at Eagle Rock School and in town.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Cindy: The diverse student population and the idea of creating a school that would do its best to reach students who don’t fit the public school mold — that was my original interest in Eagle Rock. After working in the public school for 13 years, I longed for different ways of doing things and wanted to see if I could help kids become the best they can be. Trying to figure out how to help my own son be teachable was also a big influence in wanting to know more about how to teach.

Eagle Rock: When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Cindy: I like to cook, paint, play cards and travel. I love being in nature and I enjoy long walks with my dogs. Often I walk with a Continue reading…

It’s Never Too Early To Get Your Rubber Ducks In A Row

2015EstesParkDuckRaceButtonWhen was the last time you actually heard anyone say they just hate a well-organized duck race? Never, that’s when. And if you add a good cause to this equation, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a successful event.

Here at Eagle Rock, we’re among the go-to experts when it comes to conducting rubber ducky derbies, and with 26 years of such faux fowl festivities on its fund-raising resume, the Rotary Club of Estes Park handles this event with great authority.

As is always the case, some of the proceeds from this — the 27th annual Estes Park Duck Race — benefit Eagle Rock’s Graduate Higher Education Fund, among other local charities. Fact is, since that first duck race back in 1989, more than $2 million has been raised for local charities and organizations.

This year’s race gets underway at or around 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, and we hesitate to give an exact time because everyone knows how difficult it is to herd rubber ducks. The actual competition begins at Nikki’s Steakhouse On The River on the west side of downtown Estes Park (exact location: 1350 Fall River Road), and travels down the Fall River to the downtown area behind Inkwell & Brew.

That’s where visitors and participates can watch as thousands of rubber ducks float across the finish line on the Big Thompson River. When you hear people talk about the perfect photo opportunity, this is what they’re talking about.

One of the highlights of this event is the opportunity for participants to Continue reading…

Rowland Fellows Gather At Eagle Rock for Insight into Innovation Implementation

It was back in 2014 that The Rowland Foundation first reached out to us here at Eagle Rock for help in increasing the efficacy of innovation change efforts sought by Rowland Fellows.

That’s because collaborative work with our Professional Development Center staff can often lead to implementation strategies that result in visions being transformed into reality for schools seeking change.

Such a gathering took place at the end of January at our mountainside campus, when a group of Rowland Fellows arrived for some insight into how to move their various school transformation projects forward.


If you’re unfamiliar with them, Rowland Fellows are teachers who receive a $100,000 fellowship to take on the task of innovating schools in the state of Vermont. Each year, as many as 10 Vermont secondary school educators are selected as Rowland Fellows from among all qualified applicants. The Rowland Foundation provides a $100,000 grant to each of their schools for the Rowland Fellow to implement a vision to transform an aspect of the school that positively impacts its culture and climate.

An initial grant of up to $50,000 covers a Continue reading…

Explore Week Students Credit Program — Even When No Credit is Offered

Three times each year, Eagle Rock brings classroom studies to a screeching halt for a week in order for students to “explore” a topic of interest, or gain skills in an specific area where they might want to make a future commitment.

Doing the math, that means the average Eagle Rock student studying here for nine or 10 trimesters before graduating will experience eight or 10 of these weeklong learning experiences.

That’s a respectable commitment of time and resources for our students to explore a range of topics that are completely divorced from the official curriculum that leads to graduation. And it’s a popular part of the learning that happens here at Eagle Rock — especially when you consider students don’t earn so much as a single credit for most Explore Week classes.

When it comes to Explore Week — perhaps more so than anything else on campus — learning becomes its own reward.

To get a sampling of the range of offerings, I’ve described below what was available during the most recent Explore Week during the week of Feb. 23-27: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock House Retreats Are Essential To Our Community

Three times each year, my calendar has appointments at places like BoondocksApex CenterMorning Cartoons at the Lyric, the Denver Zoo, and the Science Museum. And for each of those 20 or so hours, my “meetings” are centered around epic laser tag battles, Top Chef competitions, and meals highlighted by fistfuls of Hot Cheetos and copious amounts of Kool-Aid.

House retreats are an opportunity to reconnect after break, strengthen meaningful bonds with both my colleagues and our students, and spend some time focusing on the culture of Pinon House. To me, those days represent a new beginning.

If you’re unfamiliar with the structure of our on-campus housing, students and staff at Eagle Rock are members of one of the six houses: Pinon, Ponderosa, Juniper, Aspen, Spruce or Lodgepole. Michael Soguero, our director of professional development, reminds us:  “Houses were conceived as a smaller unit within the school to form an identity around, to encourage camaraderie and team membership in a positive way.”

In other words, if we concentrate on building a positive community and culture within the houses, then those positive efforts should filter back into the larger Eagle Rock community. House retreats were created with the inspiration of being a smaller, more manageable group in which to work on community and culture building within the houses.

Here’s a Fun Fact: Back in the day, Eagle Rock existed without house retreats? The first week consisted of schoolwide community building, until former Eagle Rock Math Instructional Specialist Jason Cushner proposed a change. Now, there are 2.5 days each trimester set aside for staff and students to work on relationships, have difficult conversations, build community, develop house culture, have a lot of fun and share delicious food.  It’s 2.5 days — before homework is assigned, notebooks need to be graded and the business of Continue reading…

This Trimester Offers Classes from Statistics to Dystopia

Editor’s Note: Today we’re please to share Dan Condon’s second of two blog posts covering the unique class offerings we have at Eagle Rock this trimester — you know, the ones that steer clear of conformity and provide students with real opportunity to reengage in their own education. The first installment can be found here: Eagle Rock Classes That Add New Meaning to the Term ‘Non-traditional’.

Why these particular classes? Our diverse student body didn’t arrive at Eagle Rock with math books and chemistry mineral charts in hand. One of the reasons they come here is to get an education that includes taking classes that enrich, enlighten and engage.

By Dan Condon, Associate Director of Professional Development

Who Made Those Nikes? In a world where technology is connecting us across time and space, why are we becoming more and more disconnected from where things come from and the people who make them? In this class, students trace some of the items we consume every day — coffee, shoes, flowers, gasoline — from cradle to grave. And yeah, who made those Nikes? What conditions do they work in? Why does it matter? What roles do power and inequality play in global capitalism and what does this mean for our environment, our global community and specifically — the Eagle Rock student?

In Fresh Prints students explore the possibilities that exist in printmaking. We focus on silkscreen printing and we print our own designs on wearable and collectible objects. Here, we learn some of the history of printmaking and about current modern printmakers who are working today. In this course, our students discover the power of print to share a message, spread the word and explore their own creativity.

Do you ever look up into the night sky and wonder what’s up there? In Astronomy, we explore the features and origins of some of the most amazing occupants of the universe: galaxies, stars, moons, planets, black holes, comets and asteroids. We learn about the theory of gravity and how it affects objects in space. We also take night sky walks and learn how to Continue reading…