Here at Eagle Rock School, we have always added new meaning to the term unique class offerings, and in fact, we’re fairly well known nationwide for the progressiveness of our classroom topics.
For example, not many high schools offer a class in on-the-job training to be a park ranger. In fact, some of our students will even be on the payroll of the Rocky Mountain National Park during the upcoming summer break as a direct result of taking this class.
Below, we present the second of a pair of blog posts describing the unique classes offered during this, the second half of ER 69 (the 69th trimester since our founding in the fall of 1993):
Farm To Table: In this class, Eagle Rock School students are studying the methods and effects of different food production systems around the world. By planting, harvesting and tending the Eagle Rock garden, our “farmers” are growing and producing food for our own school cafeteria. A primary outcome of this class is to transform the hillside behind the Eagle Rock science building into a productive and inviting garden and center for sustainability in our community. As a part of Eagle Rock’s sustainability project, they are helping to educate our community about the food choices we make and the value of producing our own food. In addition to raising crops, students are taking part in field trips to local farms and markets in order to deepen their knowledge of the interconnections between food, community, and environment.
Outdoor Leadership: In this class, students are learning about the outdoor adventuring industry, developing both leadership and specialized outdoor skills. The class includes a five-day trip to the Lost Creek Wilderness. Students also have the opportunity to earn the Leadership for Justice (LFJ) power standard by examining their individual strengths, learning about different leadership styles, and creating an equitable and just action plan that addresses a need in the community. LFJ, by the way, is one of 10 commitments students sign when they are accepted to Eagle Rock School, vowing to “increase their capacity to exercise leadership for justice.”
Rocky Mountain National Park Internship: As mentioned in the opening of today’s blog post, students in this Eagle Rock School class have the opportunity to complete an internship with the Rocky Mountain National Park. They volunteer in a variety of different divisions, including trails, recycling, fire fuels reduction, educating visitors and more. This two-day a week volunteer commitment is turning into a paycheck for students who want to continue working in the national park during their August/September break. And that can lead to all kinds of career opportunities in the park service.
Vetro Colorato: Vetro Colorato — which is Italian for stained glass — is a class designed to help our students learn more about glass, geometry and world history. Interior and exterior angles, tessellations and sacred geometry applied to stained glass, mosaic, torch work, and other glass techniques, can build relationships between art, history and math. In this class, students peek into ancient and modern cultures to better understand the uses and processes associated with glass, enabling them to dig deeper into their aesthetic expression.
Deviance & Social Control: In Deviance & Social Control, students are exploring the norms that society imposes on them, as well as groups of people who live outside those norms and that society labels as deviant — all the while examining the power dynamics created by these labels and the effects they have on society. Some examples of deviant groups include naturists, those addicted to plastic surgery, adrenaline addicts, and more.
The Why of Sports Conditioning: Students in this class are participating in rigorous workouts similar to those performed by professional athletes. No jumping jacks or leg lifts here. These workouts touch on a variety of training methods from weight lifting to body weight exercises to sprint and agility training. Through personal reflection and physical testing at the beginning and end of class, students are exposed to the methods behind the training and how bodies react as a result of the workouts. In addition, students are learning about nutrition in order to maximize the benefits of the program.
Identity and Storytelling: Acting Workshop: In this class, students are actively examining the importance of their identity through the stories they tell by finding ways to relate to others that may not have the same background as themselves. They are also learning how to step into someone else’s persona and life story through scene work and acting workshops. Students are required to find and perform a monologue that expresses an aspect of their identity (cultural, race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, religion, ability, etc.) as well as write and perform an original work based on their own story. To culminate the class, students are taking their personal stories “on tour” to venues in Estes Park and around Colorado’s Front Range.
Exploring Higher Education: Higher education, its history and current issues from an American perspective are addressed in this class. In addition, class participants are studying the impacts and struggles students of color face while in higher education. This class includes an examination of events, judicial rulings and movements that have shaped the culture of higher education and its evolution. Students are expected to gain a better sense of awareness that enables them to successfully navigate the higher education system. Finally, class participants are looking at implications for Eagle Rock and considering ways to improve how we best prepare our graduates for higher education opportunities.
Colorado Rocks: On the surface, rock climbing and geology seem to be a good match for learning. Imagine climbing through the clouds, intensely focused on your physical movement — and at the same time looking deep into the rocks for the stories they have to tell. This class is a combination of climbing and learning geology through field exploration, labs and classroom study. By using a combination of rock climbing and geology, students have the opportunity to examine change in both the natural world and in themselves. The class includes two climbs a week, including a five-day climbing trip to Vedauwoo in southeastern Wyoming. In between these climbs, students are outdoors, studying the geology of the Eagle Rock campus and the Rocky Mountain National Park.
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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 titled Engaging Youth in Schools: Empirically-Based Models to Guide Future Innovations.