Newest Eagle Rock Grads ‘Do a Geographic’ and Find Success

There’s a term for people who pack up and move away from home in order to escape their problems and attempt to bring order back into their lives. It’s called “doing a geographic,” and it’s where a person won’t change themselves, but choose instead to change their address.

While our five newest graduates all arrived at Eagle Rock from distant hometowns and situations, it’s quite apparent they all turned their “geographics” into positive experiences. Instead of blaming the people around them, or their schools, or their parents, these high schoolers accepted their part in their particular situation.


That’s why we’ve set aside this entire blog post to highlight the Eagle Rock experiences of our five latest grads — Chance Lyons, Tobee Malinzak, Derik Bernardez, Ashley Hernandez and Amelia Horne. Here are their stories:

Chance Lyons grew up within a tight-knit family in Littleton, Colorado. But once he reached high school, he drifted away from that upbringing, becoming more “independent in the wrong way.” After performing poorly at two other high schools, he realized that he needed a change.

“Eagle Rock’s philosophy of 8+5=10 was really appealing,” Lyons explained. “I realized I could come out of this place a better person.”

When he joined the campus community, Chance struggled with some of the common challenges of a new student. He had to overcome his loss of personal space and relearn the advantages of living in a close-knit family. “Instead of withdrawing into myself, I’d put myself further out there and it would offer me more space to work on myself,” Lyons said. “I was starting to develop self awareness, which grew into self control.”

Music played an important role in Chance’s personal growth. In learning how to collaborate with other musicians, he saw how it could give him an “immediate look at yourself, an insight into who you are and who they are.” He started to play everything, beginning with the piano but soon expanding to accordion, synthesizer, bass, guitar, vocals, and drums. “I played the trumpet last night,” he said, laughing.

He learned a different type of self-reflection in the classroom, particularly through Societies & Cultures Instructor Berta Guillen’s “Facing History, Face Yourself.” Lyons reflected that “Bee’s classroom provided a place to look at myself, race, culture, and the realities of the world with open eyes.”

Chance wants to go into the healing arts, explore Canada and Iceland, and get involved with the hip-hop community in Denver. He acknowledges that he has come a long way since arriving at Eagle Rock.

“I feel way more centered. I definitely have a better idea of what my place is in the grand scheme of things,” he said. “Before it was all about me, and now life is not all about me. Once you start taking responsibility for your own stuff, it’s easier to walk the path.”

In some ways, Tobee Malinzak’s background is not so different from that of his friend, Chance. While he grew up far away in Continue reading…

Our “In The Heights” Production Will Be On Stage for 5 Shows in Fort Collins

Eleven Eagle Rock student actors, backed by our own student production team and an eight-piece professional pit band, are in final preparations for five performances of “In The Heights” at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins starting next Wednesday, March 19.

In-The-Heights-Eagle-RockThis recent smash-hit Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes has been called “The West Side Story for a new generation” (Chicago Sun-Times), picking up a total of four Tony Awards in 2008. A feature film adaptation is currently in the initial stages of production.

For our staged version, Miranda’s inspiring story is enacted by a cast of talented Eagle Rock students under the direction of Isaac Leslie and Brighid Scanlon.

This musical takes place in the barrio (neighborhood) of Washington Heights, New York City, where the majority of residents are Dominican-American. The story’s characters include Usnavi, a Dominican bodega owner; Nina, a brilliant first-generation student; her doting parents Kevin and Camila who emigrated from Puerto Rico; and the Cuban-born “Abuela” Claudia, whose adopted family includes everyone on the block.

These characters struggle to find meaning in their personal stories and to transcend the grind of Big City life. In the rapidly gentrifying community of Washington Heights, home prices are rising and it seems that only pride, love and sheer determination — or a juicy piece of gossip — can offer them the strength to hold on for another day.

When someone in the working-class barrio wins the Lotto, the neighborhood is thrown into a tailspin. Themes of ambition, family, romance and personal identity play out over a sizzling soundtrack to create a Pan-American story that transcends national borders but is, at its heart, 100 percent New York City.

Since 2011, our Music and Performance Department has been part of the Berklee City Music Network. Nijaah Pierce (Vanessa), whose singing wowed audiences in last year’s performances of the rock musical “Rent,” is one of the students whose Berklee training will be on full display in her vocally challenging role.

Other members of the cast include the following Eagle Students: Continue reading…

Meet The Eagle Rock Student: Ashley Hernandez

Today, we’re starting up a new series of blog posts that are written by – and written about – our students here at Eagle Rock. And to kick things off, we’re placing the spotlight for this initial post on Ashley Hernandez, a Fort Worth, Tex., native who comes to Eagle Rock from Lafayette, Colo.


Fellow student Heather Johnston, who asks some pretty good questions about this new Spruce House resident whose sister also attended Eagle Rock, is interviewing Ashley. Ashley says she arrived at Eagle Rock with the goal of discovering something new. Here’s her story:

Heather: What’s it like at home in Lafayette?

Ashley: It’s fun, and also stressful. Since I’ve been at Eagle Rock, I find I argue less with my family.

Heather: What did you think when you first got to Eagle Rock?

Ashley: It was overwhelming. It was something different from what I was used to… It was scary at first.

Heather: Yeah, I think we can all relate to that. So thinking about Eagle Rock now, what’s your favorite part?

Ashley: Intramurals. We get to play, and be competitive and active. It’s a good time to get some anger out.

Heather: Could you tell me about some personal growth you’ve worked on recently?

Ashley: I’ve been working on Continue reading…