Feathers fly at Two Rivers Community School | PostIndependent.com

Feathers fly at Two Rivers Community School

Colleen O’Neil
Falconer Corey Schmidt's Harris's hawk takes off from the roof of Two Rivers Community School at a demonstration on Tuesday.
Colleen O’Neil/Post Independent |

The red-and-black hawk swooped off the roof of Two Rivers Community School, bells jingling from his talons and alighted on his handler’s leather glove. The students could barely ask questions fast enough.

“How far can he see?”

“How fast can they fly?”

“What does he eat?”

A falconing demonstration Tuesday kicked off Two Rivers second- and third-grader’s “Birds of Prey” unit and introduced the students to their new school mascot, the falcon.

Falconer Clee Sealing from Fruita brought his peregrine/gyrfalcon cross to teach the students about the hawk’s eating habits and proper handling procedures. Students giggled as the hawk devoured a quail from his hand. Then Corey Schmidt, a falconer from Eagle, loosed his Harris’s hawk to wheel over the students’ heads. He threw bits of meat in the air for the hawk to catch.

Ben Canady, a second- and third-grade math and science teacher, organized the falconry demonstration. “It’s about the classroom being more than the walls of the school,” he said.

Two Rivers Community School, founded in the fall of 2014, is a free public charter school in Glenwood Springs. The school teaches children K-8 in a small classroom environment — it’s housed in a repurposed postal facility in West Glenwood — and emphasizes experiential learning over rote memorization.

For instance, second- and third-graders spent November and December researching and studying trout in the Roaring Fork Valley. They did field work at the local fish hatchery and on local rivers.

Teachers at the school take the state standards for learning and work those ideas into their curriculum so students have a more active learning experience. The students bubbled over with excitement about the birds, spewing facts about the Ute Indians and evolution. “Adaptation is one of the seventh-grade standards,” said Canady, “so we learn about how the hawks have evolved to their environment.” This year 200 students are enrolled, with more expected next year.

In addition, Two Rivers emphasizes goals specific to engaging family involvement, multicultural understanding, the power of diversity and a strong Spanish-language program. Thus, the mascot will be the Falcon/Halcón.

“I’m really excited to have the falcon as our mascot,” said third-grader Kenneth Jurado. “It’s the fastest animal in the world.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User