Steamboat Springs Angela Bogenrief's teaching responsibilities will change dramatically next month.
Instead of teaching math, Bible and typing lessons at Heritage Christian School, she will guide her students on a hut trip near Leadville, teach them to make a snow cave for survival and give them tips to avoid dangerous avalanches.
During another hour of the day, she'll lead a Pilates class.
“It'll be a little bit of a departure from what you think your normal teacher description will be, but it'll be fun,” Bogenreif said. “These new courses will be a great way for teachers to get to know their students on a more personal level.”
Bogenreif's outdoor education course will be one of the many highlights of a new three-week “J-term” the private Christian school west of Steamboat Springs is launching.
Heritage Christian administrator Dave Entwistle said Thursday the new J-term was “hatched to give students some opportunities to learn in a very different setting.”
“We want it to be a fun experience,” he said. “It allows us to do a couple of trips that don't take away from the school year.”
The three adventures some students will embark on during the term include the hut trip, a mission trip to Denver and a trip to Washington, D.C., during President Barack Obama's second inauguration.
Entwistle said the school year started a week earlier this year to accommodate the new term. It also does away with the school's previous practice of having students take their finals and finish the first term after Christmas break.
“It's going to give us a fun opportunity to be free and not worry about exams during Christmas break and then be excited to come back to school after and have some fun,” senior Lizzie Fulton said.
In addition to taking the mission trip to Denver, Fulton plans to take an intensive Advanced Placement U.S. History course and another on bridge building during the J-term.
“It's going to be a lot of work, but at the same time it'll be a break,” she said. "We're going to learn really important skills in fields we're potentially going to be interested in.”
Entwistle said each private school campus in Steamboat has its niche.
Lowell Whiteman School has its global studies program.
Heritage Christian soon will have the J-term.
Entwistle said the new three-week schedule in Steamboat will have the same spirit of a break students have at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, where Entwistle taught before Heritage Christian.
There, students took interim cultural trips to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, whitewater raft the Nile, and embark on camel safaris, among other things.
“We're just trying something a little bit different here,” Entwistle said. “The kids are excited about it.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com