Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Eagle Rock’s Take on ‘The Wiz’

Eagle Rock School students and faculty members are busy rehearsing for a series of performances of the Tony Award-winning 1975 musical, “The Wiz,” which are scheduled in Estes Park at month’s end.

The Wiz Eagle Rock SchoolOur production of “The Wiz” (March 31-April 2, 2016) is an urban retelling of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” using Motown, Funk and Soul music to rework the story into the context of modern African-American culture. A film adaption of the show was released in 1978, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Eleven talented Eagle Rock students and four staff members will perform in our staged version, backed by a live four-piece professional pit band. Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, Eagle Rock School’s Music Instructional Specialist, directs the show, with co-direction by World Languages Instructional Specialist Brighid Scanlon and musical direction by 2015/2016 Public Allies Teaching Fellow Michael Grant.

Performances will be staged beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31 as well as Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2 at the Hempel Auditorium within the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Admission at the door is “pay what you like” and all proceeds benefit the Eagle Rock Graduate Higher Education Fund.

But we digress. The story of Dorothy and her road trip to Oz has become known worldwide for its themes of home, belonging, belief in oneself and freedom. “The Wiz,” with its original premiere in 1975 with an all-black cast and African-American styles, boldly showed that this classic story belongs to everyone, with audiences of all races flocking to watch productions of “The Wiz” over the past four decades. In addition to be culturally empowering, it is a “joy machine,” gorgeously designed, with quick humor and irresistible melodies.

Preparations for our production began last fall with a Continue reading…

Our Fellows Team Service Projects are Well Underway

It is the task of our Public Allies fellows to serve a full school year in an apprenticeship where they are asked to create, improve and expand services offered by Eagle Rock — specifically in the areas of youth development and education.

Like Allies across the country, fellows also participate in a rigorous leadership development program and community building activities, and they each contribute to team service projects (TSPs).

Eagle Rock Team Service Projects

The TSP is a unique opportunity to lead and learn through team experience in upholding the Public Allies values in six areas:

  • Diversity & Inclusiveness
  • Integrity
  • Focus on Assets
  • Collaboration
  • Continuous Learning
  • Innovation

Well-designed TSPs seek to recognize the assets of a community instead of approaching communities in a needs-based way. In small groups — and in partnership with community members — Allies create, implement and evaluate a service project that will ideally have a sustainable and lasting positive impact.

This year we introduced the concept of TSPs during core training. And before students even arrived on campus, our fellows had already begun to brainstorm ideas for projects inspired by their own strengths and passions. As the weeks progressed, and as fellows became more integrated into the Eagle Rock community, additional ideas emerged.

Fellows captured their thoughts in a Continue reading…

Applicants Sought for Eagle Rock’s Public Allies Fellowship Program

Public Allies Eagle RockIn just five short months, Eagle Rock’s 2015-2016 Public Allies Fellows have made significant impacts on our community, and have helped better serve our students, as well as our national mission that supports re-engaging high school youth in their own education.

A few of their initiatives include the development of new courses, including Other Worlds, Street Art as Social Action, Alternative Energy, Call of Duty, The Shape of Space, and Holocaust & Indigenous Genocide. In addition, these dozen 2015/2016 Public Allies fellows were instrumental in creating new student programs, such as our Writing Center, Workout Warriors, Youth Radio, along with affinity groups and support mechanisms that foster a healthier culture around sexual health and relationships.

Michael Grant, our Music Fellow, established regular Instructional Fellow meetings on his own initiative to discuss and reflect on experiences in the classroom. Our Residential Life fellow, Aranda Salazar, is defining her newly created position by creating a more structured and engaging curriculum for out-of-class time.

When not on wilderness trips, Monse Alvarez, our Outdoor Education Fellow, has been translating our outdoor education materials into Spanish, and is eager to help support literacy across the Eagle Rock curriculum within her department.

With the help of Claire Oliphant, our Visual Arts fellow, Mia Stroutsos has taken lead on a new project in Santa Fe, N.M., as our Professional Development Center fellow. In that capacity, she is partnering students from an underserved community with a video storytelling nonprofit called Little Globe in order to tell their stories.

These are just a sampling of the projects and initiatives our Public Allies fellows are engaged in. All 12 of them are making their mark on Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows 1

These are huge accomplishments that, without question, will Continue reading…

Winter Classes Range from Musicals and Murals to Soilless Gardening

erslogo2Eagle Rock’s busy student body is already well into the winter trimester, with many among them enjoying a number of class offerings — most of them new — that promise to challenge their intellect and maybe even spark interest in an avocation, adventure or activity that can last an entire lifetime.

Ten-week classes sprinkled among the mix for ER 68 (our 68th semester since our founding of Eagle Rock School in the early 1990s) include:

La Telenovela: In this class, which we first offered in the fall of 2014, students analyze and create their own Spanish-language “soap opera” episodes. By doing so, they are gaining insight into telenovela structure, characters and themes by viewing real telenovelas. (For the uninitiated, a telenovela is a type of limited-run serial drama and popular on European, West Asian, Southeast Asian, Latin American, East Asian, South Asian, Arab World, Brazil, Portuguese and Spanish television networks.) By watching these programs, students are refining their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in Spanish, which is enhanced by working together on their Spanish in the classroom. As a final project, students will be asked to script and film their own telenovelas — themselves portraying the characters as well as completing all of the required behind-the-scenes production work. They will work on acting as well as filming and directing techniques to produce the final episode. (Brighid Scanlon is teaching this class.)

Data Analysis: In this class, which first appeared at Eagle Rock School in the spring of 2015, students are beginning to explore data sets, looking for patterns and using statistics to answer student-generated questions. Each student explores one question, researching data that will help answer that question. By analyzing the information, they can communicate their newfound knowledge using infographics, written articles, presentation or blogs. Experts in the field, peers, and Eagle Rock staff will review the work and provide feedback for the inevitable revision. (Becky Poore and Helen Higgins are teaching this class.)

Five-week classes offered this trimester include:

101 Years of Murals: This all-day class presents students with the opportunity to appreciate what murals can teach us, communicate and add vitality to our lives. Students are part of a hard-working team with an emphasis on leadership that is designing and painting a mural in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We are learning how to use different mural techniques to create Part 2 in a series of murals. Students in this class are already capable at drawing — or are teachable — and they’re all willing to take risks. This class promises a lot of hard work, but it also promises to yield a lot of new skills as well as possible connections that may benefit them in the future. (Cindy Elkins and Claire Oliphant are teaching this class.)

RMNP Mural ER65

The Wiz” Musical: Ease on down the road with Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Staffers Reflect on Books Worth Reading Over The Break

For educators — not unlike surgeons, attorneys and others in professional avocations — keeping up with the “tricks of the trade” is a necessity. Physicians must consistently take refresher courses or attend seminars just to keep up with the advances in medicine.

Attorneys require updates on new laws and legal trends. And teachers and educators who are interested in bettering their skills are constantly attending lectures, taking continuing education courses and checking out the latest literature to stay at the top of their field.

So, once again, we’ve checked in with Eagle Rock staffers to discover what they’re reading on the holiday break that’s going to impact their students come January.

Here’s a short list of who’s reading what (note: clicking on any of the book cover images will take you to that book’s page on Amazon.com):

Just-Like-Us-Book-CoverJust Like Us — by Helen Thorpe

This book follows four young women in Denver as they graduate from high school and head off to college. All four of the young women have parents who are undocumented and several are also undocumented. It brings to the forefront what the label “undocumented” does to their identity.

This book provides a great insight to some of the struggles of balancing two cultures — especially for those that are undocumented and really wanting to succeed in this country.

I read this book when I was working with undocumented students and students who had undocumented parents. I had grown up knowing very well what undocumented students and parents go through, and this was something that helped validate some of the identity struggles that I had been surrounded by.

Later I met a researcher who talked about how the Continue reading…