EVANSTON — Students and staff at Horizon High School recently took the school theme of “Rise Above Your Story” to a whole new level with a climb to the top of Bald Mountain in the Uintas.
During the 2017-18 school year students, staff and parents at Horizon worked to identify three main values they wanted to focus on for the 2018-19 school year. Through those discussions they arrived at the values of respect, responsibility and perseverance.
This year teachers will rate students and provide weekly feedback as to how students are doing in terms of adhering to or living up to the values using a scale of unsatisfactory, basic, proficient or advanced, provided along with student grades.
The feedback is meant to spark conversations around how to improve in terms of living up to the values and provide more direction for teachers in terms of being able to teach and assess the values. Feedback on these values is completely separate from and has no bearing on a student’s course grade.
Horizon Principal Shad Hamilton said the work teachers have engaged in at the district level with high-reliability schools, standards-referenced reporting and proficiency scales helped to shape some of the ideas behind the matrix and behavior proficiency scale.
As part of an effort to kick off this initiative and teach perseverance, staff took most of the Horizon student body to the Uintas on Friday, Sept. 7, to climb Bald Mountain. Hamilton said staff felt climbing a mountain would be a great way to teach perseverance, and the activity corresponded nicely with the school’s long-time theme.
Students were assigned to smaller groups for the hike, with a goal of each group working together to get as many team members as possible to the summit safely. Hamilton emphasized the five-mile round-trip climb was not a race. Of the 25 students and six staff members who participated, 21 students and four staff members made it all the way to the summit.
Staff members stationed themselves at various parts of the trail to supervise and support students, including those who were unable to complete the entire hike.
Teachers worked together to build lessons around the hike as well. Teacher Rebecca Young used it as an opportunity to have students evaluate themselves on their leadership skills, which is a Wyoming career and technical education standard. The language arts department had students reflect and set goals on the experience in a writing assignment.
Hamilton said he worked with the U.S. Forest Service to get permission for the trip, and the students and staff also spent some time picking up litter on the summit, the trail and parking area. He said, “I think all of the students that participated enjoyed the experience and came away with a better understanding of what perseverance is and how it can relate to achieving their overall goals for school this year.”