Colorado Rocky Mountain School - Review #2
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2016-2019|
|Sports and Activities:||I have been in Climb 1 and 2 and learned to belay and lead climb.I have greatly enjoyed being a part of Climb Team-- they are a very accepting and encouraging group and we got to go to competitions almost every weekend.All three years I've been at CRMS I've been in Alpine skiing, which is usually groups of about 5-8 instructed by 1-3 teachers. It takes place on Snowmass mountain.I've loved being a part of whitewater canoeing-- we get to explore all of the local rivers.I spent three years involved with the Theatre Program-- though we don't have much space or many resources, it's a nice, stress-free bonding activity with a good result. We usually do a Fall Musical and a Spring Play.|
|Home Town, State:||Castro Valley, CA|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
One especially unique part of CRMS are our mandatory after-school activities-- twice a week, you have a Work Crew (internal community service), and twice a week you have an Active (intramural or team sports). Students sign up for their top three choices in each, some popular work crews are Glassblowing, where students make glasses for the Bar Fork (dining area); Horticulture, where students tend to the school garden; and Route Setting, where students learn to set new climbs in the gym. Some popular Fall/Spring Actives include Climbing (and Climb Team from Fall-Winter), Kayaking (and Kayak Team in Spring), Soccer Team (Boys in Fall, Girls in Spring), Canoeing, and Strength and Conditioning. Something particularly special about our sports is that they flip in the Wintertime, and on Tuesday/Thursday school ends at 12:30 in order to allow students to attend Actives such as Snowboarding and Alpine, Telemark skiing, and Nordic Skiing which all have teams if students wish to compete (options such as Yoga, Skating, and Swimming are offered for non-skiers).Another pretty unique aspect of CRMS is our trips-- our initiation trip called "Wilderness" is the first one new students take; in groups of about ten, students spend ten days in the mountains (with teachers). It's an important bonding experience and always produces funny stories. Following Wilderness, there are two shorter trips: Fall Trip and Spring Trip. The offerings for these two trips are usually very similar and always include many diverse trips like Canoe or Kayak packing, climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, and backpacking. Just like actives and Work Crews, students get to select their top four preferences to make sure they are on a trip they will enjoy. Before Spring Trip, where many West Coast private schools would normally have a "ski week", CRMS has Interim, a week long intensive-learning opportunity, with up to nine hours of experience a day. Interim is a rare opportunity because students can elect to stay on campus and take Graphic Design, Teapot Making, Songwriting, Glassblowing, silversmithing, and many more, or they can elect to leave campus for trips all over like geomorphology in Hawaii, Food and Culture in Mexico, Wilderness First Aid certification in the Colorado backcountry, or Trad Climbing in Joshua Tree (California). There is no other boarding school anywhere that can give you quite the same array of experiences.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing about CRMS is that it has turned me into a tough lady. I feel so empowered here, doing all these crazy sports and trips.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
My best advice is to bring less than you think-- if it exceeds six suitcases you will regret it. Pack light! When I arrived I was very afraid of my tightly-knit grade (I transferred in 10th grade). Some of them were a little mean to me and I had trouble getting help from adults integrating for my first year-- this was pretty particular to my grade as it had lost many kids at the end of their Freshman year.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The people here are wonderful, down-to-earth, so kind and talented and with intense passion for the outdoors. (the teachers included!)
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Restaurant : White House Pizza (try their Spinart dip!), Phat Thai, Dos GringosDefinitely ask to see the campus chickens. Nothing makes you feel more wanted than 30 chickens crowding frantically around you when you enter the coop.For sure check out the practice room in the Barn if you're a musician.Ask lots of questions! CRMS students love shadows.Overall, I love being a part of this community. There may be some negative aspects I experienced, but CRMS turned me into a person I really like being, and helped me a lot with the restraints of both my mental illnesses and physical ailments.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Something that's key about CRMS is that each student has to decide for themselves how hard they'd like to push themselves. It's easy to make an easier schedule (though teachers will still challenge you), but it's also easy to challenge yourself a little and sign up for more AP's or decide to take more than the required amount of math or Spanish. Something I'm really fond of is that the classes here are very interactive; it's very rare you'll have a lecture class-- most are Socratic Seminar style, or include a lot of activities. Teachers here really know how to engage kids with learning disabilities. The environment is the complete opposite of competitive-- at my previous school, students shared test scores in order to compare with and brag to other students. Here at CRMS, students share test scores in order to help each other or identify who can help them, and there's no judgement involved. Homework is often a group activity for boarding students, and with teachers living on campus and offering their help during study hall, there are many resources available.Sometimes I find that my classes are not as challenging as I would like them to be, such as my core English and History classes. This is in part due to the fact that students at CRMS don't truly get into intensive writing until they are Juniors. We usually have less than two hours of homework (unless you're taking APs), and many teachers are very flexible about late work and missing important deadlines-- this creates a largely stress-free environment for students, but also very sheltered. However, this sheltered environment helps a lot of students stay on top of their academics and get the help they need.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Our sports are called "Active", and every student does them at least twice a week-- the mandatory participation is not a downside! It is an upside-- I love being able to bond with classmates through Active. Team sports include Kayak, Cross-Country, Climb, Bike, Telemark, Alpine, Nordic, and Soccer. Intramural includes Climb, Kayak, Canoe, Hiking, Strength and Conditioning, Swimming, Yoga, Horseback Riding (yes, CRMS has a few horses), Alpine, Nordic, Telemark, Snowboarding, Bike, and Trail Running. Students also have the option to organize their own off-campus Active: some will do lacrosse at Roaring Fork High (the local high school), Fencing, Baseball, Fishing, Basketball, and basically any activity that CRMS doesn't offer-- there are few requirements. However, almost all students choose to do an on-campus Active-- we have incredible access to the outdoors; from top-quality outdoors climbing (and our school's own climb gym!) to the local rivers (there are several), to the mountains, to the slopes in Aspen, there are so many great opportunities right here in our backyard.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
We have so many arts here! I am a huge fan of Silversmithing, where students learn everything from how to make rings to money clips to chains to hairclips (and so much more!). Students can also take Glassblowing as a Work Crew and learn to make fish, pumpkins, and glasses(and yet again, so much more!). Blacksmithing is also a Work Crew option, where students will make kitchen utensils, art for campus, and even utilities like coat hooks for classrooms. Drawing and Painting, Printmaking, Photo, and Video are very open for personal creativity-- students are given assignments which they can interpret however they like. Our music program is unique because classes are cover bands-- students each bring in one song they think the band might like to cover, and the whole class votes. Then our teacher writes down the music (not sheet music in these classes),and we can choose any instrument to learn the part on-- from cello to piano to guitar to bass to drums to banjo to mandolin and even ukulele, there are many options.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
All boarders have a dorm check directly followed by a study hall on week nights-- for grades 9-11, dorm check (the whole dorm meets and talks for about 15 minutes or less in the common room with a teacher) happens at 7:30, followed by a study hall from 8-10. Lights out is 10:30. For Seniors, dorm check is at 7:45, followed by study hall from 8-10:30, with lights-out at 11. Students are free to leave campus at any time before dorm check as long as they sign out (unless they are on Restriction, the consequence for too many unexcused absences or failing a class-- it's basically like being grounded, but there is still plenty todo on campus). During underclassman study hall, phones are taken. Furthermore, grades 9-11 aren't allowed to study alone in their room or the library unless they are a Holden Citizen (on honor roll and with good Rec Scores (Rec Scores are scores given in each class for participation, social interaction, and effort which are separate from grades)). Non Holden Citizens must study in the common room. Senior boarding students study in the Bar Fork or in their room alone. The dorms are way nicer than most college dorms-- especially the North and South (Junior boys and girls), where they have two showers and two toilets per hallway (6 rooms in each hallway), heated floors, and walk-in closets. Senior dorms are in central campus, close to the library, Bar Fork, and Jossman (main classroom building). Many students have singles, but most will have doubles-- there are only 10 boarding girls in my grade, so we all had singles in the North dorm as Juniors. Every dorm comes equipped with a microwave, a fridge, and a very nice toaster oven (I've baked many goodies in ours), and all of the underclassman dorms (+Junior boys) have an oven and a stovetop. Common rooms are very cozy and three of them (North, South, and Solar dorms) include pianos, which is fun. All dorms are equipped with televisions (but they don't get TV-- they are to watch DVDs or hook up a game system). Our dorm has a Wii and sometimes the boys come over and we have a partay with the Wii or a puzzle.Another important aspect of dorm life is weekend activities-- on Friday and Saturday nights, dorm check is at 11pm and doesn't include a group meeting like on week nights. From 9-11 on Friday and Saturday nights and all day on Saturday and Sunday, teachers on duty for the weekend host activities-- at night they usually take place in the dorms (beading, baking, movies, snacks, etc), but can also happen elsewhere (movie in the Barn or Library, bus into town for First Friday, bus to Glenwood Movie theatre, etc.). The activities during the day range from day trips to Denver to climbing in Eagle to a thrift shop tour around Glenwood to a Whole Foods bus, but also include on-campus fun such as open gym, frisbee (usually with prizes) on the quad, or beach volleyball on the field.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
CRMS has delicious and diverse food. Please note I'm vegetarian so if my favorites sound especially meatless that is why! There are always both a vegetarian and a meat option. Breakfasts on the weekdays usually include the basics: scrambled eggs, sausage links, vegetarian sausage patties or bacon, bagels (there's a toaster), yogurt, and cereal, but sometimes weekday breakfasts will include foods like pancakes or french toast. Lunches rotate so that you don't get too tired of them-- some of my favorites are Mac N Cheese (with bacon for meat eaters), grilled cheese and tomato soup and brie and jam baguettes (with ham for meat eaters). There's also always a salad bar, sandwich bar (and panini press), and various fruits (usually grapes, strawberries, pineapple, or watermelon). Dinners are also on a rotating schedule, and always include a veggie, a carbohydrate, and a protein (the main dish)-- I especially love stir fry and spring roll night, pumpkin gnocchi night, and lentil dhal night. Every dinner is accompanied by a dessert, which varies-- sometimes it's self-serve ice cream, sometimes it's types of cake, sometimes it's pudding, or strawberry shortcake, or the ever-popular oreo bonbons. On weekends, we only have Brunch and Dinner. Brunch includes all the weekday elements but always has a lot of extras: deviled eggs, quiche, muffins, cherry turnovers, quesadillas, cinnamon buns, salmon and lox, and much much more.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Carbondale is small but wonderful. I come from a very big city and I thought I would feel a little trapped in such a small town, but it is just right here. Within less than a 10 minute walk from campus are both Silo, a coffee shop with cute breakfasts and pastries, and Dos Gringos, a CRMS-family-owned coffee and burrito shop. City Market is also about a ten-minute walk, and town is about 20 minutes. In town there are many dining options like pizza, burgers, Chinese, and Mexican, as well as several thrift stores. Carbondale is very biker and pedestrian friendly as well :) My personal favorite is Phat Thai.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Social life is pretty good! Every high school has its issues, but ours aren't that bad.For many, it revolves a whole lot around the mutual love for the outdoors. CRMS is fairly devoid of cliques. We also have very little racial diversity (but pretty good socio-economic diversity)-- the school is mostly white but a lot of our international students some bring diversity to the community.
|8:15 AM||We have a rotating block schedule. Classes are 55 minutes long in Spring and Fall, 75 minutes in Winter|
|10:30 AM||Brunch opens|
|12:00 AM||Brunch closes|
|6:00 PM||Dinner opens (5:30 in the Winter)|
|7:00 PM||Dinner closes (6:30 in Winter)|
|11:00 PM||Dorm Check|
|12:00 PM||Lights out (1am on Friday nights)|
Alumni Reviews Review School
- Review Description
- Currently finishing High School One aspect that CRMS has is that we are a very outdoors school. This means that twice a year we have trips into the wilderness based on the type of sport your interested in. This. . .
- n/a One especially unique part of CRMS are our mandatory after-school activities-- twice a week, you have a Work Crew (internal community service), and twice a week you have an Active (intramural or team sports). Students. . .
- N/A The atmosphere that CRMS has is one that values outdoor education as much as indoor education. We get outside in the wilderness more than any other school that I know of. . .
What prompts somebody to start a boarding school? The motives range from idealism to munificence right on through to capitalism. The common thread seems to be ample capital and a vision of what education can do.
Social media is an essential part of a boarding school's marketing strategy
Parents considering schools should read New York Times columnist Frank Bruni's book about college admissions entitled Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. Much of what he says applies in the private K-12 world.