Eagle Rock School Begins its 80th Trimester with Engaging Class Offerings

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Just as it has been for the last 79 trimesters here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, students are once again immersed in classes that challenge their minds, improve their life skills, and present new ways of learning.

In this, our 80th trimester since the school was founded in the early 1990s, students made their selections from an assortment of class offerings, ranging this time around from exploring the probability and statistics of a dice game, to exploring personality traits through literature and the lens of a camera.

If you are familiar with our 10 Commitments for students attending our non-traditional school, you’ll run across the values that our students are committed to live by. In particular, they are asked to develop their minds through intellectual discipline, their bodies through physical fitness, and their spirits through thoughtful contemplation. As you’ll see below, our curriculum continues this approach of presenting educational experiences that add actual practical value to our graduates’ lives after they leave our mountainside campus and re-immerse themselves in the real world.

That being said, below are descriptions of a half dozen or so of the new classes available in this trimester. And please look here again in a month or so to see a synopsis of the remaining classes being offered this trimester:

The Game of Pig: Pig is a competitive dice game, and Interim Math instructional specialist Stephany Subdiaz is teaching her students the best approaches for this game of chance. Through numbers and probability, students are analyzing real life situations and games.

By the end of this five-week class, they’ll be able to figure out complex probabilities, the likelihood of basketball free throw percentages, and have designed their own games of chance — where they’re likely to win or at least come out ahead more often than not.

But Then You Read: The title of this class comes from James Baldwin, who once said “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

In this 10-week course, our young readers are exploring how stories connect us to others through thoughtful analysis of the theme “coming of age” and examination of how this theme pops up across different cultures. Students are reading and then analyzing a number of novels, then practicing communicating that analysis through argumentative writing. They are also engaging in daily discussions of the novels and are writing their own “coming of age” stories.

The course culminates in a written literary analysis of a novel each student has selected from a list approved by Brett Youngerman, Literacy & Literature instructional specialist, and Mary Loomis, 2019/20 Public Allies Fellow in Literature & Literacy.

Sports Conditioning: In this 10-week class, students are learning different ways to connect to their best version of physical fitness by participating in workouts that touch on a variety of training methods. These range from resistance training to agility and somatic training.

Through personal reflection and physical testing at the beginning and end of class, students are exposed to the methods behind training and how the body and mind grow as a result of the physical practices. In addition, students are learning about nutrition and how to maximize the benefits of individualized physical training programs.

The class is being taught by Chris Iafrati, Human Performance Center adjunct instructor, and Chelsea Ehret, 2019/2020 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Science & Math.

Gizmos & Gadgets: Most engineering projects aim to simplify complex machines, but in this class, students are actually tasked with and learning how to create complex machines. Utilizing art, design-thinking, and physics, they are working as a team to build a Rube Goldberg-inspired machine.

Led by Sara Benge, Science instructional specialist, and Michelle Franco, 2019/2020 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Visual Arts, students are learning about the physics of force, energy, and simple machines. The end result? Hanging exposure to science, math, and engineering concepts that allow the students to create their chain reaction machine.

Independent Study: This class offers students the opportunity earn Human Sexuality or Foreign Language credits. In addition to substantial independent work time, students are learning how to each other through in-depth discussions and cooperative learning.

This hybrid independent study and class is being led by Josán Perales, World Languages instructional specialist.

Music & Social Movements: This 10-week class, also taught by Josán Perales — along with Cedric Josey, Eagle Rock’s Societies & Cultures instructional specialist — focuses on music and its role as an instrument of change and protest.

Students are analyzing lyrics, instrumental music, poems, speeches, scripts, screenplays, theater and film for meaning and attitude. And they are looking at the important roles these play in conveying a message and making connections between popular music and historical events.

They are also being taxed with investigating audio and video to analyze the role of music in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and other movements in history. And they are learning to compose music, play instruments, produce tracks, and perform the people’s voice. Finally, these young student musicians are collaborating with the instructors — and other experts in the field — to produce a scripted narrative and musical performance that highlights the class’ themes.

Exposure: This class is a combination of students getting in touch with who they are by looking through a camera lens, as well as exploring different styles of creative writing. Taught by Cindy Elkins, Art instructional specialist, and Michelle Franco, 2019/2020 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Visual Arts, students are asked to create a portfolio of digital and film camera images that expose their identity.

As a result, they are creating art that personally focuses on “why you do what you do,” and will then share those truths in a show. The creative writing aspect of this class includes several styles of poetry and prose.

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