Latest Eagle Rock Grads Reflect on Education and Setting New Goals

Our eight most recent Eagle Rock School graduates took the opportunity to briefly reflect on their time here. Reading their comments, we were drawn to the similarities expressed by these new grads, each of whom will receive their high school diplomas on Friday afternoon, August 8, at a ceremony here in Estes Park, Colorado.

Where negativity is a normal theme of new students to our wilderness campus, it’s refreshing to hear comments about the good things the future holds for these graduates. And we think a lot of that comes from time spent looking for the similarities in your peers instead of the differences.

We’re not always sure why the curriculum at Eagle Rock seems to be so successful. We’d like to credit the administration, the instructors, the staff, the programs. But sometimes it just comes down to a couple of classmates sitting down on a boulder and discussing an issue that’s important to one of them.

So sit yourself down and listen as our new graduates — Nikolay Hayden, Marjorie Furio, Lesly DeLeon, Jeremy Coles, Nicole Bau, Tiffany Wright, Jessy Mejia and Jaliza Perez — relate their Eagle Rock experiences:

Eagle Rock School’s latest graduates.

Nikolay Hayden

Nikolay “Nick” Hayden grew up in Ukraine. When he was adopted at age 11, he relocated to Colorado where he was confronted with a pair of stumbling blocks — a new language and a different culture.

He lived in Colorado Springs with his mom, dad, two brothers, and a sister before enrolling at Eagle Rock. He came to us for a new experience — attending a traditional high school.

“I was crazy because I was young,” Nick said. “I was active all the time. That’s how people saw me.”

In his time at Eagle Rock, Nick said he’s become better at accepting people for who they are by co-existing with others within a small community. He said has also learned a lot from the structure here, which encourages him to be on time and to be organized. For those tools, he credits his house sister, Sandra.

“She helped me a lot in Juniper House,” he explained. “She helped me stay on track. She was really motivated, and I found myself following her because she helped me.”

After graduating, Nick plans to go home to work in lifeguarding or construction with the eventual goal of joining the U.S. Navy.

Marjorie Furio

Marjorie “Star” Furio struggled with the extroverted nature of Eagle Rock from the get-go. Growing up with her mom in Prescott and the Grand Canyon area of Arizona, Star lost her scholarship after receiving failing grades at another boarding school. When she arrived in Estes Park, she was surprised by the difficulty of living so closely with such a diverse group of people.

“I expected it to be cozy, and I had to adjust to conflict and feeling uncomfortable at times,” Star admitted.

She cites Human Sexuality as one of her favorite courses for being “really honest.” And she credits her instructors — Jen Frickey and Beth Ellis — for making her Continue reading…

Newest Eagle Rock Grads ‘Do a Geographic’ and Find Success

There’s a term for people who pack up and move away from home in order to escape their problems and attempt to bring order back into their lives. It’s called “doing a geographic,” and it’s where a person won’t change themselves, but choose instead to change their address.

While our five newest graduates all arrived at Eagle Rock from distant hometowns and situations, it’s quite apparent they all turned their “geographics” into positive experiences. Instead of blaming the people around them, or their schools, or their parents, these high schoolers accepted their part in their particular situation.


That’s why we’ve set aside this entire blog post to highlight the Eagle Rock experiences of our five latest grads — Chance Lyons, Tobee Malinzak, Derik Bernardez, Ashley Hernandez and Amelia Horne. Here are their stories:

Chance Lyons grew up within a tight-knit family in Littleton, Colorado. But once he reached high school, he drifted away from that upbringing, becoming more “independent in the wrong way.” After performing poorly at two other high schools, he realized that he needed a change.

“Eagle Rock’s philosophy of 8+5=10 was really appealing,” Lyons explained. “I realized I could come out of this place a better person.”

When he joined the campus community, Chance struggled with some of the common challenges of a new student. He had to overcome his loss of personal space and relearn the advantages of living in a close-knit family. “Instead of withdrawing into myself, I’d put myself further out there and it would offer me more space to work on myself,” Lyons said. “I was starting to develop self awareness, which grew into self control.”

Music played an important role in Chance’s personal growth. In learning how to collaborate with other musicians, he saw how it could give him an “immediate look at yourself, an insight into who you are and who they are.” He started to play everything, beginning with the piano but soon expanding to accordion, synthesizer, bass, guitar, vocals, and drums. “I played the trumpet last night,” he said, laughing.

He learned a different type of self-reflection in the classroom, particularly through Societies & Cultures Instructor Berta Guillen’s “Facing History, Face Yourself.” Lyons reflected that “Bee’s classroom provided a place to look at myself, race, culture, and the realities of the world with open eyes.”

Chance wants to go into the healing arts, explore Canada and Iceland, and get involved with the hip-hop community in Denver. He acknowledges that he has come a long way since arriving at Eagle Rock.

“I feel way more centered. I definitely have a better idea of what my place is in the grand scheme of things,” he said. “Before it was all about me, and now life is not all about me. Once you start taking responsibility for your own stuff, it’s easier to walk the path.”

In some ways, Tobee Malinzak’s background is not so different from that of his friend, Chance. While he grew up far away in Continue reading…

Meet The Eagle Rock Student: Ashley Hernandez

Today, we’re starting up a new series of blog posts that are written by – and written about – our students here at Eagle Rock. And to kick things off, we’re placing the spotlight for this initial post on Ashley Hernandez, a Fort Worth, Tex., native who comes to Eagle Rock from Lafayette, Colo.


Fellow student Heather Johnston, who asks some pretty good questions about this new Spruce House resident whose sister also attended Eagle Rock, is interviewing Ashley. Ashley says she arrived at Eagle Rock with the goal of discovering something new. Here’s her story:

Heather: What’s it like at home in Lafayette?

Ashley: It’s fun, and also stressful. Since I’ve been at Eagle Rock, I find I argue less with my family.

Heather: What did you think when you first got to Eagle Rock?

Ashley: It was overwhelming. It was something different from what I was used to… It was scary at first.

Heather: Yeah, I think we can all relate to that. So thinking about Eagle Rock now, what’s your favorite part?

Ashley: Intramurals. We get to play, and be competitive and active. It’s a good time to get some anger out.

Heather: Could you tell me about some personal growth you’ve worked on recently?

Ashley: I’ve been working on Continue reading…