For Boulder County Dreamers Leslie, Nick and Jenifer, the Eagle Rock School near Estes Park provides a “one-of-a-kind community” that blends a focus on academics with the chance for personal development. The year-round boarding school, funded by American Honda Motor Company, reaches out to students ages 14 to 21 who are at risk of not finishing high school. Students must stay at least six trimesters and meet Eagle Rock’s requirements before graduating. It has been the school home for Sanchez Dreamer Leslie for a year and nearly four months for Columbine Dreamers Nick and Jenifer.
“It’s a school of hope,” Leslie said. “This is a place that makes me want to really accomplish something with my life. I have big plans now.” Leslie didn’t always consider her future. “I cut school for 252 days one year, and that’s what started me on my way here,” she admitted wryly. “I thought I was ready to be an adult. All my friends were dropping out and having kids, and I figured that’s what would happen to me. I even ran away twice and lived with my boyfriend. My mom tried to make me change, but I just wasn’t listening to her.” Things changed for Leslie when Elyana Funk, her “I Have a Dream” program director steered her to Eagle Rock School. “This place is tough in the beginning, but I learned that they care. I learned to make good, healthy choices,” Leslie said. “I’ve built relationships with people that I never thought I’d even connect with. Now I’m doing very well, and I want to be a neurologist or a surgeon.”
Nick also found his place at Eagle Rock. “This place is very different from my old school,” Nick said. “Here, people find ways to get along, instead of things to argue over. It’s a one-of-a-kind community, and I really like it here.” Nick, who has been writing a science fiction book for more than a year, is learning singing techniques and how to play the cello. He’s also enrolled in Aikido and a kitchen class. “There’s something to do all the time,” he said. “I’m really glad to be here.”
Jenifer had lost interest in school before coming to Eagle Rock. “Eagle Rock is so much better. There are small classes, and the teachers care. I was very quiet at school, and I kind of got lost in my old school’s big classes where the teachers didn’t even know my name,” she said. “I’ve found a better way of learning that works for me. And I can focus on school, instead of worrying about what is happening at home,” Jenifer said. “My uncle was murdered, and nobody has solved it. So I think I want to be a criminologist, or a lawyer.” But even though Jenifer had lost interest in school, she decided that she couldn’t pass up the” I Have a Dream” college scholarship offer. “I knew I needed to do something to keep that,” Jenifer said. “So I talked to Kristen Moegling, my Columbine class program director and she told me about Eagle Rock. I would probably have dropped out of high school if I hadn’t been a Dreamer.”