Working on a trimester system, ours is an alternative and non-traditional school that works hard to recognizes the accomplishments of graduating students who have gone through all the requirements needed to earn their high school diplomas.
As our current trimester draws to a close, we are proud to announce that seven students have proved to the Eagle Rock community that they deserve to be up on our Human Performance Center stage — in front of their peers, families, instructors and staff — in order to receive their high school diplomas.
Marking the 72nd trimester since our founding back in the early 1990s, our latest trimester graduation ceremony begins at 4 p.m. Mountain Time this Friday and will be broadcast live on Facebook. If you want to watch this momentous event, visit the following Facebook Page starting at around 3:55pm MT Friday — https://www.facebook.com/EagleRockSchool — and look for the post containing the live video.
Below is a short biography about each of the seven graduates, along with info on what they did while at Eagle Rock, their short and long-term goals, along with advice for current and incoming Eagle Rock School students.
Courtney Coleman (arrived at Eagle Rock in May of 2015) — Courtney hails from Harlem, N.Y., and is a proud member of the Ponderosa House. She has been one of the leaders on campus these past few trimesters as she taken on lead positions in several campus groups and organizations.
Some of her involvements included being a member of Mag 7 (a campus group featuring Eagle Rock’s seven most veteran students that focuses on various leadership roles and opportunities); helping lead our Summer Institute for nationwide educators who gathered here for professional development; and mentoring incoming students. She said several staff members adopted her as their child because they could always count on her for support with other community members.
She said a highlight of her tenure at Eagle Rock was becoming a Lead Ambassador for our Professional Development team. Students in this position are not only is responsible for completing the same tasks as an Ambassador, but they also get the opportunity to train new students and make decisions on what happens with the program. It is a great opportunity for students to grow as leaders and mentors.
Being involved with the Ambassador program allowed Courtney to participate in the School Reform Initiative (SRI) Winter Conference Meeting in Denver.
Following graduation, Courtney plans to go to college in Atlanta, Ga., and receive a Bachelors of Arts (BA) degree in African Studies. After that, she plans to go to law school to become a lawyer whose practice focuses on celebrities. Once her career has taken off, she wants to start her own law firm and make as much money as possible. Despite these dreams, her biggest goal in life is to be successful and happy.
Courtney’s advice for students at Eagle Rock is “enjoy your time here and take advantage of everything they have to offer because not everybody gets this opportunity. Learn how to love yourself and — in the words of former Director of Students Philbert Smith — “don’t go knocking on the devil’s door.”
Djibril Cayolbah (arrived at Eagle Rock in January of 2015) — Djibril also comes from Harlem and is a member of Spruce House. Throughout his time at Eagle Rock, he has been involved with the Professional Development Center team as an Ambassador, and he was a Lead Ambassador during this last trimester.
Besides leading campus tours for guests, Djibril participated in various panels for members of the North American Honda Motor Corp. Another important contribution Djibirl will be leaving behind is his weekly “This Day in History”— a Wednesday Gathering vocalization of a fact about history that happened that same day of the year.
Djibril says his most important contribution was re-introducing Eagle Eye, the school’s news source that was dormant for many trimesters. Eagle Eye is fully run by students as they gather information on events that range from student projects and intramural results, to other important information of interest to our campus community.
After receiving his diploma on Friday, Djibril will be attending Colorado State University in Fort Collins to pursue a degree in Business Administration and Fashion Design. He will be using this degree to create his own fashion design line and brand in the future as head of his own company.
Djibril’s advice for incoming students? “Engage in the community and empower others to do so as well.”
Chemi Lewis (arrived at Eagle Rock in September of 2014) — Chemi is our third summer 2017 graduate to come from Harlem, and has been a member of Spruce House since she arrived on campus. Always seeking ways to contribute to the school and fellow students, she has participated in Mag 7; become a Lead Ambassador, traveling with the Professional Development Center team to a site visit in Vermont; and was a co-leader with Nigel Taylor in the mentor-mentee program, which supports incoming students as they transition from other schools to Eagle Rock.
Chemi will be attending the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley to pursue a career in Sports & Exercise Sciences with a concentration in Physical Therapy. Her dream is to own her own company in youth development and after school programs. She hopes to create a similar offering to Eagle Rock’s, where kids can participate in team-building programs through fun, educative and athletic activities. She also hopes to have this type of program running in underdeveloped countries where she can create connections between staff and kids from around the world.
Her advice to students is to ”Live one life and don’t wait until the end to give it your 100 percent. Turn your 99 percent to a 100 percent throughout your entire stay.”
Sam Dodson (arrived at Eagle Rock in May of 2015) — Sam is from Portland, Ore., and is a member of Ponderosa House. While at Eagle Rock, he has participated in various outdoor events and programs where he mentored new students. He also served as an Art Angel due to skills as an artist.
He said one of his most memorable achievements was the co-creation of Local Global Connection for Peace. This program — which was started just last trimester — is meant to promote global awareness on various important current affairs to students and staff. Students discuss politics, the economy, health, and various other topics in addition to being able to request new topics to be shared each week.
Sam intends to backpack around Europe for a couple of months before starting college at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs. He has always had a passion for traveling and the outdoors, which is why he will be pursuing a career in Outdoor Education. He hopes to teach kids about the outdoors, while leading trips to the mountains. He’d eventually like to start up his own outdoor tour company while also creating artwork as a hobby.
Sam’s advice for students is to “Enjoy the little things and focus on the good rather than on the bad things.”
Levi Sage (arrived at Eagle Rock in May of 2014) — Levi hails from Victor, Mont., and was a member of Lodge Pole House. His most recent achievements include building a pizza oven during this trimester’s Explore Week — a project that continues to be useful for chefs preparing meals, as well as supporting staff in classes. Most important, his oven has been a vital ingredient in numerous hikes and outdoor adventures. Levi always used his free time to explore the mountainside, waking up at the crack of dawn to see the sunrise throughout the years.
After Eagle Rock, Levi will be working at a nearby Get Air Trampoline Park with the goal of becoming a free-style acrobatics instructor. Since arriving at Eagle Rock, Levi has taken every opportunity to jump off precarious ledges and do air-flips. That might account for his nickname: Flips. In addition to his career goals, Levi also wants to continue to explore the outdoors and live a fulfilling life.
The advice he leaves behind for his fellow students is to “Find what you are passionate about and pursue that. Students should also waste as little time as possible on things that they aren’t passionate about.”
Nigel Taylor (arrived at Eagle Rock in September of 2014) — Nigel is originally from Detroit and is another member of Ponderosa House. As a student, he was an ambassador and had the opportunity to participate in various trips to Vermont where Professional Development Center clients often asked for him to return. Nigel has also co-led the mentor program with Chemi and has helped expand the program by creating new activities.
He will be attending the University of Northern Colorado in the fall studying biological sciences to pursue his ultimate dream of receiving a Medical Degree and becoming a doctor.
In fact, Nigel’s nickname at school is “Doc,” due mostly to his interest in medical related topics. He also uses his medical knowledge through Local Global Connection for Peace, consistently supporting this program each week.
He urges students to attend Eagle Rock with the intention of “getting in touch with yourself. You are going to make mistakes and fall, but make sure to always keep pushing and find your reason to wake up each morning. It will help you understand how to become the best person you can be. Now you know you and that is what matters, not what others think of you.”
Keny Bernardez (arrived at Eagle Rock in January of 2015) — Keny’s hometown is Manhattan, N.Y., and he was welcomed into Ponderosa House with open arms when he arrived on campus in early-2015. He has participated in Mag 7, was a house leader, a mentor for new students and an Eagle Rock Art Angel. Despite all these involvements, his proudest moments were as a Guardian of Sound, and if you were looking for Keny, you could most likely find him in the recording room. He has a great love for music and producing his own sounds to share with students and staff.
After graduating from Eagle Rock, Keny wants to get a job with UPS to earn money to produce his own music. Not only does he want to produce new sounds, but he also wants to own his personal record label to represent new musicians who need help getting their careers started. He wants to mix this career with entrepreneurship because he enjoys the economic side of the music industry.
Keny’s advice to new students is “to find yourselves — not to break any non-negotiable and find yourself.”
Be sure to watch Friday’s graduation ceremony, and please join us in congratulating this trimester’s graduates with a comment below! Again, the graduation ceremony streams live at 4 p.m. Mountain Time at https://www.facebook.com/EagleRockSchool (look for the post containing the live video feed).