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 Kitchen Patrol (KP). In addition, students are asked to reflect deeply on both academic and personal growth during their 15-minute Presentation of Learning (POL), which is delivered to the Eagle Rock Community here on campus after their return from the backcountry.

At the conclusion of their first year at Eagle Rock, students have already accomplished a lot. They have completed an exciting — albeit grueling — 24-day wilderness course, taken up to a dozen intensive classes, moved into a student wing and made it their home, engaged in chores and KP, stepped into leadership roles, participated in a trifecta of courses during Explore Week activities, served the local and on-campus community through their participation in Eagle Serve, and done a lot of maturing.

It is during this first phase of their time at Eagle Rock that students explore their interests and often get a clear picture of what it is they want to accomplish — aside from just receiving their high school diploma — during the remainder of their time here. In the second half of their Eagle Rock School career, students become leaders in the community, supporting new students who arrive on campus after them. They step into a number of formal leadership roles as well, ranging from becoming a Student Ambassador for our Professional Development Center or co-leading an academic course with one of our instructional specialists.

And so, our new Mid-Career Celebration, offered this trimester for the first time, provides an opportunity to initiate students into the second phase of their time at Eagle Rock. The celebration recognizes students in various phases of their Eagle Rock career, including brand new students on their first day at school, students who have just completed their first trimester, students graduating, as well as students in the middle of their career.

Topping this new approach to honoring success, we recognized six students who are celebrating their mid-career. They include Joy Page, Xavier Hagood-Edmeade, Toby Busleta, Forrest Henninger, Mathew Bourne, and Dalan Farris. Each of these students shared a five-minute presentation about their personal growth thus far in their time at Eagle Rock, as well as their plans moving forward.

Some themes included finding their voice and being vulnerable in sharing it; connecting with their feelings and emotions in honest and generative ways; and learning how to live, work, and learn with diverse people. Each student also had the opportunity to hear reflections from the community about the growth they’ve seen during their time here.

The atmosphere our campus community created for the first celebration was profound to witness, and it set the stage for the coming trimester. The end result? Students have told us they felt both seen and supported — accentuated by laughter and festivity, as well as deep introspection and mutual respect. Fittingly, the first Mid-Career Celebration event culminated with cake, ice cream, and an impromptu dance party.

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About the Author: Eliza Wicks-Arshack is the Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colo.

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