There are some things that I think everyone who has participated in the Eagle Rock community takes away: Fat Tuesdays and Thanksgiving’s in the Lodge, Wednesday morning gatherings, and Presentation of Learning week just to name a few. Experiences like these may mean different things to different people, but they always mean something. That is why it is such a treat for me to take our graduates out to dinner and hear the stories that only individuals can tell – the details that define memory. Whether it is an embarrassing story from working at the Stanley Hotel, the battle plans drawn up late one night for a girls’ wing raid, or the makeshift hot tub Philbert caught you lounging in one night, the memories that make people laugh are the ones that help me understand a student’s time here.
On April 10th, four more students received diplomas from Eagle Rock, packed with memories, moving on to next steps and new experiences.
Yoni Fallik came to Eagle Rock from Boulder, Colorado. He came to ERS towards the end of his junior year in high school. “I came to Eagle Rock for a different kind of education. I wanted to make changes in my life.” Many of Yoni’s favorite memories come from Juniper house and his wing, but he said he would also miss seeing the sunrise during gate runs. With regard to his growth at ERS, Yoni says he has changed a lot: “I am less of a happy go lucky kind of person. I was kind of a pushover. I would smile through everything. Smiling was my façade. Now I don’t let people take advantage of me. I don’t hide behind my smile. I address things seriously.” After graduation Yoni is planning to spend time living and taking classes in Israel before going to college.
“This is a special place,” Calvin King told me when I spoke with him. Calvin came to Eagle Rock from Los Angeles after being out of high school for six months. “I came to ERS because I thought it was a cool idea: thinking of going to another state to go to school. Flying back and forth, just gaining that new experience.” Calvin has had many new experiences in his time at Eagle Rock. He will remember all the people he has met and the different cultures, races, and ideas they have introduced him to. Calvin has grown a lot in his time at ERS. “I’m in better control of my temper, and I can communicate to a lot of different audiences,” he said. Calvin plans to spend the coming summer working at a camp in the San Francisco area, and then plans to attend college in the fall. Of Eagle Rock, he says, “it definitely requires some determination, and you’ve got to want it…and be open. There’s going to be something that happens that turns your world upside down, and those are the moments that you grow.”
Jesse Reyes also came to Eagle Rock from Los Angeles. Jesse describes his life before ERS as “like living in a shoebox, nothing big. When I first came to Eagle Rock it was to get a high school diploma, but soon after that I decided it was more about bettering myself.” Describing his personal growth, Jesse says he is more open-minded than he used to be. “I feel like I have the tools to search for whatever it is I want in life, and now I know what I want.” Jesse will remember the morning gatherings, intramurals, and the friendships he has had with ERS staff. After graduation Jesse plans to travel. He is particularly interested in seeing Latin America. “Eagle Rock creates leaders,” Jesse told me. “If you feel like this school is too hard, remember that leaders who have gone down in history have had to face harder things than being a student at ERS.”
Graduate Ashley Trunck, from Monument, Colorado, came to Eagle Rock looking for a place where she might care more about her education. “I just didn’t really care about school,” she told me. “I wasn’t thinking about what it would do for my future. I was there, if anything, for the social scene.” When asked what memories she will take away from ERS, Ashley talked most about the classes that affected her. She was in a summer production of The Boyfriend. She also took a class called Close Up that took her to Washington, D.C., where she had the opportunity to meet Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. “I came into the class not knowing a lot about politics. I didn’t know about lobbying or the conflicts going on around the world that affect us.” Ashley also had the opportunity to do research for a W.K. Kellogg Foundation initiative called New Options for Youth, and traveled with a group to Michigan to present the results. Ashley says her time at ERS has helped her to value her education more and made her more confident. “I’m not as focused on materials things as I was, and I don’t care as much about what [people] think of me.” Ashley is looking for camps to work at over the summer and then plans to attend community college for a while before transferring into a university. She hopes to travel to Italy one day.
Congratulations to all the graduates and good luck with everything that comes next!