Feathers fly at Two Rivers Community School
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.”
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