Reporting on Another Successful Explore Week

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The effects of our most recent Explore Week — that staple of the Eagle Rock School experience whereby our students have the opportunity to learn about careers, hobbies, art, music, physical pursuits and other offerings that may not necessarily fit into the daily academic curriculum — are now being felt here on campus.

The latest installment of this thrice-annual event took place June 20-24 with students vying for learning experiences related to earthen building, canoeing through Canyonlands National Park, music, poetry, beauty and hair care.

Eagle Rock School Explore Week

In addition to a few of our own instructional specialists, Explore Week offers experiences presented by instructors from the community and as you’ll see below, Eagle Rock School alumni — all highly experienced in what they do.

Here’s a short recap of courses and instructors from our most recent Explore Week:

For those musically inclined students with an interest in turning their words into lyrics, the Songwriting, Stories, and Live Performance course was the perfect opportunity to complete songs that they might have started writing and put aside or put time into new materials that they wanted to turn into song. The course included a lot of interaction, discussions, writing activities — all capped by live musical performances by the students, completed individually and sometimes collaboratively.

About the instructors — Eric Ian Farmer, Ph.D and Juan Torres: Farmer is no stranger to Eagle Rock. He served as an intern from the fall of 1999 through the summer of 2000, and was an Eagle Rock School instructional specialist from the fall of 2005 through the summer of 2008. Torres studied music at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago and now plays with the Estes Park Jazz Big Band and teaches concert, jazz, and marching percussion at schools in the Estes Park School District.

Led by a pair of street poets, Poetry of Initiation: From Pain to Purpose was best described as a writing and performance course fueled by the transformational power of poetry and of the natural world — served to inspire and to challenge its student participants. In addition to developing their writing and performance skills, students learned how to perceive their own lives through the lens of initiation and to use the practice of poetry to dream a new world into being.

About the instructors — Chris Henrikson and David Sanchez: Henrikson is a former journalist and Hollywood screenwriter and the founder and executive director of Street Poets Inc. — a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that harnesses the healing power of poetry and music to awaken youth to their gifts and purpose. Sanchez is a Street Poets alum and teaching artist. A former gang member, David turned his life around while he was a student here at Eagle Rock School. He now runs a successful business while continuing to teach and perform his original poetry as a member of Street Poets.

In Hair Care, Hair Design and Extension Wear, Eagle Rock School students learned the fundamentals of beauty and hair care by practicing fun and simple ways to bring out the beauty in everyone. Pro-level instruction was included on the use of thermal irons, roller sets and flexi rods, and techniques ranged from wig making, sew-ins, braiding, twisting and crochet.

About the instructors — Charmaine Mitchell and Sweets Baldwin: Mitchell is an Eagle Rock School grad who now works as Master Cosmetologist and hair stylist. Sweets Baldwin is also an Eagle Rock School graduate. Today she is a successful hair stylist at a Regis Salon location in New Jersey.

Talk about getting your hands dirty. In the Natural Building course, students learned the nitty-gritty of building earthen structures from mud, straw and other natural materials. Eagle Rock’s fledgling builders learned hands-on methods of making and using use earthen plasters, as well as environmental benefits of natural structures. About the instructor — Kyle Chandler-Isacksen is a natural builder and urban homesteader who teaches, raises food, and works for climate and social justice in Reno, Nev. He has conducted natural building workshops across the country and is dedicated to helping create a life-sustaining society. He and his wife, Katy, met at Eagle Rock 17 years ago as interns.

Led by three veteran canoeists, the Green River course took place on two separate rivers winding through Canyonlands National Park. In addition to paddling a canoe for five days, students learned all about the area’s natural and cultural history, including geology, plants and animals, Anasazi history, outlaws, and more recent human exploration.

About the instructors — Jesse Beightol, Becky Poore and Michael Grant: Beightol is the Eagle Rock School’s Outdoor Education instructional specialist. He has led this trip for the past three summers. Poore is the Math instructional specialist at Eagle Rock School and has led a number of canoeing trips on the Colorado River. Grant is the 2015/2016 Public Allies Music Fellow at Eagle Rock School and is a big fan of the Desert Southwest who has led many backpacking, climbing, and canoeing trips in Alaska, New England and Europe.

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