Exploring the Great Outdoors with Alpine Leadership Academy
Alpine Leadership Academy is anything but your average center for learning. This 2013 Bookmans School Challenge winner is a 2-year magnet learning program based out of Mount Elden Middle School in Flagstaff. In the 4 years since its inception, Alpine successfully created a curriculum focused on experiential learning using outdoor expeditions and community service projects. With their five core values of inquiry, community, stewardship, critical thinking and reflection, Alpine takes the classroom to natural spaces. Students enjoy numerous expeditions exploring the Colorado Plateau and the Coconino National Forest.
When the entries for the 2013 School Challenge flooded in, the Bookmans School Challenge committee members were impressed by Apline’s video entry. School Challenge competition was stiff with many deserving schools vying for top prize. Alpine’s plan to purchase a more ecologically responsible means of transportation earned a position as finalist based on their existing school and community support for the project. Alpine’s B.E.A.M. (Bookmans Expeditionary Alpine Mobile) was born. Using the B.E.A.M., students at Alpine enjoy more outdoor adventures throughout the school year resulting in more learning and of course more fun!
So what’s next for the students at Alpine Leadership Academy? Alpine science teacher Josh Armstrong’s list includes:
* Rafting on the Green river, Colorado River and the San Juan River.
* Ecology on Mt. Elden.
* Exploration of historic burn areas, Hart Prairie and the meadow restoration projects.
* Service learning at picture canyon.
* Water quality studies of water tanks on the San Francisco Peaks.
* Restoration of native plants at Lee’s Ferry.
* Insect surveys in conjunction with the USGS.
As environmental responsibility is one of Bookmans’ core values, it becomes apparent just how excited we are by the work of Alpine students. Exploration isn’t the end-goal for these students. Armstrong says, “All of these projects are focused on learning. There are curricular goals for each learning expedition and students are responsible for the learning that takes place. These learning expeditions are academic extensions to the learning that takes place at school.”
Wow! With so many cool and exciting expeditions planned this year, all we can say is… can we go? Thank you to Alpine Leadership Academy for being an amazing group of student citizens, thank you to all the Alpine educators and staff and a special thanks to Josh Armstrong for making things happen.
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