Eagle Rock School Continues to Place the Focus on Literacy and Literature

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” ~ James Baldwin (American novelist, playwright, and activist)

For more than five decades, educators throughout the United States have taken Baldwin’s comments to heart, stressing the importance of reading and words to allow students to navigate their future.

Poet Edgar Kunz visits Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colo.

And, indeed, literacy and literature — which we believe helps students unleash their imaginations, relate to the world around them, and actualize their literacy skills — is forefront in the curriculum at Eagle Rock School, with hands-on experiences such as the one I am attempting to pass on to my students this trimester. Called Adventure Writing, this is the latest class delivered through an experiential education context that emphasizes the importance of reading and writing.

Most recently, a class called Continue reading…

Here’s Some of What We’re Learning This Trimester at Eagle Rock School

Each trimester, we offer classes that traditional high schools might term progressive or unique. And while we pride ourselves on these offerings (please see our latest class descriptions below) because they truly engage students in their own education, there’s an approach to education that’s at work here at Eagle Rock School that may not be readily evident by just reading a bulleted list of class names.

Ours is a high school that has deep interest for classroom topics that make students think, build and validate their skills, and provide insight into what to expect in the real world upon graduation. And if everyone involved in the process — students and instructors alike — experience enjoyment along the way, all the better. Our instructors are as knowledgeable and helpful as our students eventually are eager and enthusiastic.

Lily Lake — Site of ER 78’s Phenology of Lily Lake Class.

It’s worked quite well for us this past quarter of a century as we continue to provide meaningful and engaging classes for our student body. Below are some of the topics we’re tackling this trimester, as well as a description of each. We’ll publish a second edition of classroom offerings for this, our 78th trimester since our founding in the early 1990s, at the beginning of July: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Wax Poetic at National Poetry Slam

A half-dozen of our Eagle Rock School students, along with three staff mentors, have just returned from a national youth poetry festival at the University of Houston in Houston, Tex., and while we didn’t walk away with any major trophies or prizes, the reward came in helping each of our students find and display their own voice.

Called the 2018 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, the annual event brings more than 500 young poets — along with their educator mentors — all joining up with some the nation’s leading spoken-word artists and cultural workers to take a deep dive into arts education, artistic expression, and civic engagement.

BraveNewVoices

Brave New Voices is a national youth poetry festival sponsored by Youth Speaks, an organization that has long championed what is becoming a global movement of young people finding safe places to discover, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices as creators of social change.

Participating students do this through the intersection of arts education and youth development practices, civic engagement, and quality artistic presentation.

Dan Hoffman, Eagle Rock’s Societies & Cultures Instructional Specialist — and a Ponderosa House Parent— did most of the heavy lifting at the local level, coordinating the Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Embark on Second Batch of Non-traditional Classes

The second half of this trimester at Eagle Rock School is underway this week with students embarking on new classroom experiences ranging from poetry to piano to percussion to prime numbers. This marks the middle of our 73rd trimester since the school was founded in the early 1990s.

The final day of class is Friday, Dec. 8, and Presentations of Learning (POLs) take place on Monday, Dec. 11 and Tuesday, Dec. 12. Ceremonies for those graduating from this trimester will be held on Friday, Dec. 15.

Image 11-8-17 at 3.13 PM

Below is a rundown of the five-week classes offered now through early-December, along with a 10-week class where students are halfway through an intense Spanish language enterprise:

Sacrificial Poets — In this class, fledgling poets are reading, writing, watching and performing spoken-word poetry — all the while exploring their identities, refining their writing and analytical skills, developing performance and public speaking abilities, and building self-confidence.

Students enrolled in this class are traveling off campus to watch nationally renowned poets from the Denver Youth Poetry Team, Minor Disturbance, and poets from around the United States perform in Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Poets Net Last-minute Spot in National Poetry Slam

The name of the class was Poetic Justice, and the Eagle Rock School students enrolled last trimester received a little poetic justice of their own earlier this year by snaring a position in a big-time poetry slam in San Francisco.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a poetry slam is a competition at which poets recite or read original work. Poetry slamming began in Chicago in the mid-80’s when performance poet Marc Kelly Smith began experimenting with open mic night and venues for poetry readings by making them competitive.

My students knew it was a long shot when we applied for a slot in the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival, which was held last month in San Francisco. After all, we’d never performed or participated in slams outside Colorado’s Front Range. On top of that, we’re a fairly small school, and we’re new to big-time spoken-word poetry competition.

(Photo ©2017 Daniel Schaefer of Outlier Imagery)

(Photo ©2017 Daniel Schaefer of Outlier Imagery)

Nevertheless, we applied to participate, and the festival’s powers-that-be graciously placed us on a waiting list. Then at the last moment, our school was pulled off the wait list and we were welcomed to participate into the four-day mid-July festival.

Student Engagement Through Spoken-word Poetry

This was indeed a highlight for a classroom of students who — on a daily basis — express their passion for poetry by reading, writing, viewing and performing all things related to spoken-word composition. In conjunction with what they are learning, our students also explored their own Continue reading…