Friday, December 27, 2013

News and Announcements: Students at Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School Participate in Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child was a civic service project that packed shoe boxes filled with toys and sent them to third world countries. The project wouldn’t have been a success without the generous donations and participation of the parents of Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School students. During the October seminar, parents donated 3 big boxes full of random toys, accessories and school supplies. As the Christmas season approached, many of us don’t think about how fortunate we are to be receiving gifts every Christmas. This sadly isn’t the reality of many young children living in developing countries. Through the Operation Christmas Child humanitarian organization, the boys and girls here were able to bring some of the joy that we get on Christmas, to other not as fortunate children around the world.
Thank you for the generous toy donations!
After talking with some of the parents and students who donated, many of them said they had an enjoyable time when they went out to buy toys. I know for me personally, it brought back a lot of childhood memories as I was in the store and buying Hot Wheels and yo-yos. I still vividly remember my childhood was filled with toy cars and toy soldiers and all the countless hours I spent on Saturday morning playing with them. It was a humbling experience as well because I knew that I was going to be bringing smiles to other people who were not as fortunate.

We packed so many boxes!
Back at Cedar Ridge, a few of the students began on the journey of deciding what to pack for the shoe boxes. We tore open all the packaging around the newly bought toys and set on the journey of thinking about what a boy or girl in a certain age group would enjoy playing with. It definitely surprised me with the volume of donations that we received. At first, I was worried that we were only going to be able to pack 3-4 boxes. At the end, we packed a fabulous amount of 14 boxes. 1 box we mainly filled with school supplies and donated it to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots foundation. The other 13 shoe boxes, we donated it to the local Roosevelt Baptist Church and they were all dropped off at an Operation Christmas Child pick-up location. The service project truly was an amazing experience for everybody who participated in it. I believe that the organization is wonderful in being able to share some of the joy and love that we receive on Christmas to fellow children around the world.

Showing off our boxes!

Thank you Operation Christmas Child for this great opportunity
To learn more about this organization:

Friday, December 13, 2013

A New Guidance Counselor at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School

This summer, Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School welcomed a new guidance counselor, Holland Olsen.  For the fall issue of Cedar Spectrum newsletter, one of our students interviewed him.  We have reprinted this article here for you and welcome Holland to our Cedar Ridge family.

What does your job entail?
My job entails helping students progress academically and to make sure the school is meeting its academic needs.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I would say the favorite part of my job is the interaction with students.

Where did you go to college?
I got my undergraduate degree from Dixie State College and my Master’s degree from Ottawa University.

What do you do in your free time?
I like to play basketball, snowboard, any type of sport really. I also like to spend time with my wife; enjoying the time since we don’t have kids.

What's your favorite part of living in Utah?
Probably being able to be close to family.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in Gunnison, Utah.

What is your favorite color?

Why did you want to become a school counselor?
I wanted to be able to help students realize their potential. I also feel students sometimes need a guy with my personality to help them out.

How does your school day go?
I get up, I get ready for work, I drive 20 minutes to work, I then have the pleasure of waking up the Redwood boys. Once  I'm at school I address the situations from most important to less pressing. After work I usually exercise, eat, and then hangout with my wife.

When did you start working at Cedar Ridge?
I started working at Cedar Ridge on June 24, 2013.

Did you have a nickname when growing up?
I had a lot of nicknames growing up a sample of what they were; the obvious one is Dutch. My freshman basketball coach nicknamed me Sasha Dabradavich, the Russian dancing bear because of my work down in the low post during basketball. My best friends called me W for no apparent reason.

Do you help out with the boys basketball team?
Occasionally, when asked.

 Holland pauses for a quick picture during his workday

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School Welcomes a New English Teacher

This summer, Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School added a new English teacher to the staff, Kristi Wall.  One of our students interviewed her for the fall issue of Cedar Spectrum newsletter.  We have reprinted this spotlight here for you and welcome Kristi to our Cedar Ridge family.

What made you motivated to be an English teacher?
It started in high school-my English teacher was so dynamic! She got me so much more interested in words-made them fun, actually. I have loved to read and write for as long as I can remember. I also love teenagers, so it is easy for me to teach them.

What made you want to come teach and be a staff at Cedar Ridge?
After working in public schools for 14 years, I realized I enjoy teaching one on one instead of teaching about 30 students at a time.  After teaching over 150 students, I also realized that a smaller environment would suit me better. I have a strong belief that people can and should reach their potential, so seeing that happen at Cedar Ridge is a perfect reinforcement for me.

How long have you been teaching English?
I started teaching in 1998, so it has been about 15 years.

If you had not gone into English for your career, what would have been your second choice for a career?
When I was little, I really wanted to be an astronaut, but that is obviously out of the question. I am actually really interested in medicine and working with people-you know, helping people. If I had not liked working with teenagers so much, I think I would have gone into a medical field of some sort.

Where did you grow up and how did you end up coming to Utah?
I was actually born in Vernal, Utah, and I have lived in Utah my entire life. I just moved around the state for college, etc. I have always enjoyed living in smaller towns, so I have enjoyed staying in the state.

What are your family dynamics and what is your family like?
I have four siblings, and I am the oldest. Actually, my youngest sister and I are almost 18 years apart! My dad is a retired elementary teacher, and my mom is a manager at a post office. I have been married for almost 10 years, and my husband is an accountant. My husband and I adopted our only child about two years ago, when he was six months old.

If you could change one thing about your job here, what would it be and why?
You know, honestly, I wish I could spend more time here! I am so torn between spending more time with my family and spending more time with you guys because I enjoy being around you guys; you are a lot of fun! 

What is your favorite part of being a staff and teaching at Cedar Ridge?
I think my favorite part of being a staff and teaching here is definitely the students. I have never met so many intellectual teenagers, really! You guys understand so much, and you are so well-rounded, it is just so awesome to see. I cannot wait to see how you will all turn out. I get closer to all of you every day. It is so much easier to get along with people when I get to know them, especially teenagers! I was a lot like the kids here, so I see myself in a lot of you, and I just love to see you succeed!

Kristi takes a break from helping students

Friday, November 29, 2013

Spotlight on Jacob Auna, a new therapist at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School

Recently, Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School added a new therapist to the staff, Jacob Auna.  One of our students interviewed him for a spotlight article that recently appeared in the fall issue of Cedar Spectrum newsletter.  We have reprinted this spotlight here for you and welcome Jacob to our Cedar Ridge family.

What is your favorite thing to do (as a past time)?
My favorite thing to do is to go to the beach: playing in the water, surfing, body boarding, or any other type of water sport.

What prompted you to want to want to become a therapist?
I wanted to become a therapist as I was going through the Master in Social Work at BYU. I wanted to help others on a different level. Mainly I wanted to be able to help other to improve their quality of life.

Why did you want to work at Cedar Ridge Academy?
When I came for my interview, I was greatly impressed with how clean and neat the facility was here. I also was drawn to being able to do therapy in an environment that we have here at Cedar Ridge. I also wanted to instill qualities and lessons in students through activities, experientials, nature, hard work, and sports.

What is your favorite part of working at Cedar Ridge Academy?
My favorite part of working at Cedar Ridge is being able to work with the students both in individual and group therapy. Also I love being able to have the opportunity to help them in a totally different environment. I also greatly enjoy using volleyball as a way to teach and coach life lessons.

What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of having 3 children and being a father to them. Having my own family and helping my kids understand my love for them and me always being there for them is something that I greatly take pride in daily.

What is your meaning/purpose of life?
            My meaning of life is based off a great quote, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” -Robert Nesta Marley

What are 5 things that you want to be before you die?
            1. Establish an orphanage for children in the Philippines.
            2. Break a world record.
            3. Write a children's book and publish it.
            4. Learn how to play the piano.
            5. Catch a fish with my bare hands.

Jacob pauses for a moment to make a goofy pose!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Daily Life of the Aspen Home at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School

For those of you that don’t know, there are three homes currently in use here at Cedar Ridge Academy Private International Boarding School. There are the two boys homes, Aspen and Redwood, and the girls home, the Ombu. The Aspen has usually been and continues to be the largest home, with 16 boys currently in it and the most sleeping/living space available. 

The boys love to play basketball!
At the beginning of the day, we wake up and get our chores done, and get prepared for whatever lies ahead that day, usually karate or sports. Then we go to the home and get some breakfast in the cafeteria before we head to school for a large part of the day. Once we get to the school we’re there from 8:00 to 12:00 and usually will be in there for 2-3 hours for schoolwork due to sports scheduled or phone calls with parents. At 12:00 the girls go eat lunch, so the boys can go back to the home to change and get prepared for the second half of the day. Some people write quick emails, while others work on trigger sheets (one of the key components of the program here) and the rest will just sit around after changing and wait to leave for lunch. Then we head to the cafeteria for lunch for half an hour then head back to school from 1:00 to 3:00. This period of time is focused entirely on school, since there’s no P.E time to distract the kids. 

Often the boys will play Frisbee
as part of their experientials 
From 3:00 to 4:30 Mondays-Thursdays we have groups, trigger sheet families on Mondays and Wednesdays, and small groups (which are different for every student) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When these are over we get started on showers and chores and just chill out until dinner at 5:30. After that we will either go up to MASSH (extra school time) or to the gym for basketball or some other sport, and this is the same for Mondays to Thursdays every week. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are our kick back and hang out days, where we sit around for most of the days, after the work we have on the weekends is done.  With having a big home there are always activities like playing games, reading a book or magazine, talking to people and having fun. Overall, as a home we try to work together to get our home moving in the right direction.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Student Workshop for September at Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School

Each month, Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School has a workshop. This past September, we had a student workshop that allowed students to be able to explore different therapy ideas, work in co-ed groups, and practice mediation. Two students worked together to write this summary of how the day went for them.
One of our therapists instructs the group 
For student workshop this September, we had a day of groups focusing on the importance of teamwork and how to concentrate on positive motivations. The whole campus, including the teachers, gathered in the dome Monday morning to hear from the therapists. Rob, director of the program and main therapist for the girls, started the day with some basics of the program. He spoke about mindfulness, the practice of being aware to what is going on around you and with yourself, and focusing your mind on the here and now. He also discussed the process and concept of desensitization that he teaches the students to do here. The process includes exposing yourself to uncomfortable feelings and fears and sitting with those feelings to become more comfortable and accepting of them. A good, practical example of this process is for someone who is afraid of heights to climb up steps on a ladder everyday to an uncomfortable height and sit there. Over the days, this will become less scary and they will eventually be able to climb the ladder. He explained how many of us run from feeling of not being good enough, not being accepted, or not being in control of a situation. Many of us have developed destructive habits to run from these feelings or to ignore them. The main idea of the program teaches us to get use to those feelings and find ways to positively cope with them and accept them.

Following Rob’s speech on the nuts and bolts of Cedar Ridge was therapist Brent’s activity. He broke up the campus into three groups, each with a group leader. The leader chose two random members of the team to go and write a team chant with them. While they brainstormed their chant, the rest of the students participated in a guided mediation. We all practiced straight body posture and focusing on our breathing. Afterwords, we each performed the group chant and were judged by the teachers on creativity, group participation, meaning, and leadership.

Therapists play a role in coaching students 
After this group activity, Brent gathered us all together and asked us all one question: “What motivates you to work on yourself?” Many students provided answers and we created a white board full of motivation. Everything from the obvious “I want to go home” to a good college experience, sober relationships, and to rebuild family relationships were included on the list. He then polled us on how many of us were motivated by what and guided us in another meditation; this time to concentrate our minds onto our positive visions for our futures. We ended by lying down on the floor of the dome and spent the last ten minutes of our morning envisioning our motivation come true.

Another activity we did for student workshop was geocaching. For this activity we all got into groups that were the people from our homes and we had a staff that had a compass on their phones and each group had a different colored ball that they had to find. We would use the compass and the coordinates that we were given and worked as a team to find the balls out in the desert around campus.

Working together as a group, students pause to ask a therapist a question

Friday, October 25, 2013

News and Announcements: Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School Students Win 2nd Place at Basketball Tournament

Going for the jump shot!
Basketball, to many people, may just seem like a game. But, to me, basketball is way more than just a game. Basketball has brought so many positive things into my life. At Cedar Ridge Academy International Private Therapeutic Boarding School, I have gained so much therapeutically through basketball. I have learned powerful life lessons, like how to be a leader for my fellow teammates to follow. Being a captain of the basketball team, I have taken on a big responsibility to be a leader of the team both on and off the court. For me personally, I love being in a leadership role, which has benefited me off the court in numerous ways because I am more assertive with my peers. Basketball has had tremendous effects on my academic development since being at Cedar Ridge Academy. On the court, you are taught to work hard and leave the court knowing that you gave 100% of your effort. This goes right along with our work in school. Many people don’t realize and value education, but through hard work in basketball, you begin to develop many good habits that can be applied to studying. I know that for me in school now I always push myself to be getting 100% on my quizzes and tests. Similarly in basketball, I want to always be giving my best effort and pushing myself to new heights.

Use that defense!

One of the aspects of basketball that I significantly enjoy is the family and brotherhood that we gain through being a team. We currently have 8 boys on the team. The vibe of the team is that we are all one loving family. On or off the court we are always motivating each other to be successful; whether this means doing extra school, working hard in therapy, or pushing harder in basketball. In order to play in off-campus tournaments you need to be on trust-level 700. For many, this goal is inevitably hard. I have found that through motivation from my teammates and personal desire to want to play in off-campus tournaments, that I have gained big motivation to work my therapy.

Get that game winning shot!

On October 11th, 6 boys and 2 staff began on the journey down to St. George to play in a 3 vs. 3 basketball tournament. Emotions and adrenaline were overflowing as we approached game time. People were getting nervous, but for many it was going to be the stage where all the hours we had put in the gym were going to pay off. My team began by demolishing a local team 21-7. This greatly raised our spirits as we played the other Cedar Ridge team beating them 21-12. We left the court for the day having high spirits and hope of clinching the championship spot tomorrow. The next day, we faced competition and lost both of our games to two very talented teams. We went into the playoff spot as the number 3 seed playing the 2nd place team in a single round elimination. The stakes were high as the winner of the game was advancing to the finals and the losers sent home with nothing. We had lost to this team earlier, so mixed emotions were running through the court as some feelings of doubt were inevitably running through our minds. As the game began, we immediately set the tone of the game by playing very physically and letting the other team know we were here to stay. After 20 minutes of good physical basketball, the game was brought into overtime with each team having 12 points apiece. In overtime, whichever team scored 3 points first was the winner. We started off with the ball and I got an easy hook shot that put us up 1-0. The other team converted by getting an easy layup. My teammate scored the next basket and the tides were in our favor as we were 1 point away from advancing to the finals. The other team was getting antsy and began jacking up wild 3 pointers in a last minute effort to win the game. After 4 or 5 missed shots, we finally got the rebound. With the ball cleared, I got the ball at the corner about 15 feet from the basket. Rising up, I knocked down the game winner that brought us into the finals to play the #1 seed. In the championship game, we still played hard, but ended up losing to a talented team. We ended the tournament in 2nd place and received medals for our accomplishments.

The team that won second place!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rock Climbing at Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School

Rock climbing is one of the most powerful and exhilarating sports known to man. It offers not only a thrilling rush, but also a never-ending mental challenge. To climb you are pushing past fears and doubts and entering an unnatural and beautiful world. Like karate, which is such a big part of the therapy we students participate in here at Cedar Ridge Academy, rock climbing can also positively impact your life.

You can get there!
When you stand at the base of the rock you are about to climb you are facing an enormous puzzle. Each move is executed thoughtfully and gracefully, for the wrong move can send you tumbling down the face of the slope. At that point it is up to the person belaying you to catch your fall, turning simple rock climbing into a dance of trust. It’s a special kind of relationship, between the climber and belayer, constructed purely of the fact that your life is in another person’s hands. You grow closer and gain confidence in yourself and the other person.

The climbing itself is an adventure. Whether you’re leading a climb or just practicing some top roping, it is an adrenaline-charged, emotional journey. Once you are on belay and acknowledge to the belayer that you’re ready to climb, you have committed and it becomes very hard to back down. You dip your hands in your chalk bag to steady yourself and begin the journey. As you work your way up you constantly surprise yourself. You use muscles you never even considered beforehand. It’s pure finger tips and toes. Sometimes you find yourself balancing precariously on your pinky toe, holding on with only your fingernail. The higher and higher you climb the more of a mind trip it becomes. It’s just you and the rock. You fall in love with rough, friction-filled faces; and curse glacier polished, moss-covered expanses. It is fun, scary, and challenging. You must give it all you’ve got. The only other option is to give in and get lowered down.

This student had a great opportunity to rock climb
and spend time with her family.
Nothing compares to the feeling you get when you reach the end of your climb. As you push yourself up on top of the rock, you can feel the energy and the glory racing, building up inside of you. And then it explodes! As you stand there and peer down at the route you just conquered, you are on top of the world! Rock climbing is the ultimate thrill and something that everyone should experience!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cedar Ridge Academy Becomes an International Boarding School

Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School has a reputation of thinking outside the box when offering alternative solutions, in addition to the traditional approaches, to increase a students’ academic performance.  Our most recent accomplishment in this ongoing pursuit was the authorization from the federal government to enroll international students here at Cedar Ridge Academy.

The director and assistant director of institutional research at Duke University recently published their findings pertaining to the benefits of international students on their U.S. classmates.

This longitudinal study revealed the alumni of these notable universities who actively interacted with the international students at their universities had:
·         Enhanced their own self-confidence
·         Develop Leadership Qualities
·         Increased Quantitative Skills
·         Increased Appreciation for Art and Literature
·         Placing Current Problems in Historical Perspective
·         Read or Speak Foreign Languages
·         More Informed about Foreign Cultures and more likely to Reexamine: Political, Religious, Racial or Ethnic Viewpoints

Announcing_the_enrollment_of_international_students_at_Cedar_ridge_academy_therapeutic_boarding_schoolThe intercultural interactions here at Cedar Ridge Academy will provide a supportive environment to balance the students as they are presented with environmental challenges allowing for increased learning and personal development.   This mutually beneficial opportunity will better prepare our students for higher education and careers involving international relations.

Our Admissions Director, Steve Miller, is enthusiastic about working with all families to determine if Cedar Ridge Academy is the right fit and to help them transition into the new International Private Therapeutic Boarding School setting.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Student at Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School is Fascinated by Dreams

At Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School, the students spend time learning about psychology and how their own fears fit into their reality.  Often times, the boys and girls on campus choose to go into something psychology related when they go on to college, whether as an international student or an American student.  One of our students explained one of the reasons why she enjoys psychology--dreams.

What do dreams mean? Some say that they are simple nonsense your mind comes up with at night, some say they are based off things you heard throughout the day, and some even say that dreams are your minds way of letting out emotions, thoughts, or fears through the scenes that play during your sleep. What if you could just say that all three ideas were true? That could mean that your mind does those things on different occasions. When it feels the need to let something out, it will; when it hangs onto something that happened during the day it will show it in your sleep; if you have a creative mind, then creative dreams may come up. Or it could mean that all three of those things happen at once. Maybe your mind is letting some emotions out, using a detail from the day to do it, and making a scene of complete nonsense all at once. 

The author experiencing her own dream
Either way, I’m inclined to believe that while dreams may sometimes be crazy, and can even give me a sense of déjà vu, they always mean something. That is why they fascinate me so much. They can bring things up from you conscious, or even unconscious, and turn them into a riddle to solve. What’s even more amazing to me is how quick people are to shrug them off like nothing. Somebody could be having a dream where they are running from an evil figure who is strikingly similar to an abuser from their life. They decide to push it away, and so it keeps coming back. Or it could be a dream with a more positive outcome, but still something you pay no mind to. But what if that dream was trying to show you that you hadn’t worked through your anger or pain from the past? What if it was trying to show you that something could bring you happiness, but you just didn’t realize it yet? My point is, no matter what your assumptions are about sleeping and dreams, there may be something you’re missing out on. Give yourself a chance to explore what goes on in your head and see if there’s anything there--hiding in the shadows of your dreams.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Constitution Day at Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School

On September 17th, the country celebrated Constitution Day.  At Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School, we held an assembly for the students to learn more about the Constitution to understand why the Constitution is so essential to our government. This assembly was a great opportunity for the boys and girls to enhance their academic development and continue our blended learning model. As a certified teacher of Social Studies, I was really glad to have this opportunity to explain to the students that even if you don’t agree with the government’s decision or how the Constitution is interpreted; you still can appreciate the fact that it was revolutionary for its time and what our country would be like without it.

Students work on placing quotes
We started out by discussing what exactly happened on September 17, 1787 and painted the picture of what it was like to be at the Constitutional Convention.  The students began to understand what it was like to be a member of the 55 delegates for three and a half months trying to form a government in the middle of the summer. They were very amazed to find out how much work this really was.

We then went over the six principles established by the Constitution. These principles were: federalism, limited government, separation of powers, checks and balances, individual rights, and popular sovereignty. After defining these principles, the students split up into groups with ten quotes from the Constitution.  As a group, they read the quote and determined which principle it matched with and then taped it to a poster for that principle. Overall, the campus did a nice job with getting the quotes in the correct spot.

After we split up all of the quotes, we focused in more on the individual rights principle and talked about the Bill of Rights.  The students were given eight scenarios that had been presented to the Supreme Court as violations of the Eighth Amendment that prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment”. They gave their own opinions on whether it was or not and then we learned what the Supreme Court actually said.  Some of the decisions genuinely surprised the students.  As we ended, the students wrote down what they took out of our discussions and what impressed them the most about the Constitution. 
This visual shows the student's responses
to why they feel the Constitution is important

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Summer Fun in Uinta Canyon at Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School

As a school, we try to take advantage of the great outdoor explore that is at our fingertips around Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School.  Being in Roosevelt, Utah, we are very close to the Uinta Mountains.  As mentioned in a previous post, the girls recently had the opportunity to spend a day in the mountains.  They hiked, did arts and crafts, cooked over a fire, and many other fun activities. We have more reflections to share with you today.

One student remarked:
Creativity expressed in crafts
I had a good experience when we went hiking and then afterwards made arts and crafts.  I liked that we got to enjoy the nature, such as the deer, rabbits, streams, and many mountains. Another thing that I thought was fun was when we each got to decorate our own letters of our first names.  Lastly, I liked that we got to cook our own food on a campfire and prepare it ourselves.  Overall, I had a pretty good time when we went to the mountains.
One student told this story:

The hike today was beautiful. I'm so grateful to spend this time with my Cedar Ridge family.  I loved being able to encourage the girls that had a harder time with the hike.  I could empathize with the ones that felt like they couldn't make it because I can remember one specific hike with my brother and my dad in Colorado where they were in much better shape than me.  I struggled, but I knew that it would be worth it for the view.  So I was able to use this experience to empathize and I'm grateful for that.
Finally, this student expressed this:
The girls enjoying table tennis
Exploring the nature and the sun beating on myself is beautiful. I like to feel as if I'm on an adventure in this beautiful place I call home.  Climbing up the mountains made me feel stronger and uplifted me.  I strived to get to the top.  The sky was grey, but there was a small glimpse of a ray of sunshine that would go upon my face. I take climbing up mountains as it is in my program at Cedar Ridge.  I was motivated to reach the top and feel powerful from each step I took.  The view is so outstanding, the trees were huge, and the birds were chirping.  Up here in the Uinta Canyon feels like heaven.  Life is filled with new adventures and endless possibilities. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Therapeutic Retreat in the Uinta Mountains at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School

At Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School, students enjoy an opportunity to hike through nature, revile in the outdoors, and spend time together.  Recently, the girls had the chance to go up into the Uinta Mountains to explore the area there and themselves. The girls wrote about their experience to share with all of you.

One student said:
Busy painting the first letter of their name
My experience today was fairly enjoyable.  I'm not a fan of hiking, but the hike today was alright.  The way down was by far the best part, because we ended up walking through the Aspen trees and the dried up creek bed where the run-off comes down.  It was fun to navigate your own path through the trees and down the rocks.  I enjoyed just spending some time with myself while hiking; just having a long time to zone out in nature and think. Coming back to camp and spending time with the girls was nice as well.  Just having some time to hang out and be creative with our craft projects. Overall, just having some time to hang out was really nice. 
Another student commented:
 Overall, the experience up at Uinta Canyon was undeniably amazing.  The day started off slow and kind of hectic, but the fun picked up the minute we got in the car.  From hiking to ping pong matches and arts and crafts--the day was definitely a success. But at the end of the day, my favorite part about the trip was the bonding.  I loved how close I felt to everyone by the end of the day and I can't wait to do it again.

 Finally, this student stated:
Becoming better friends
Today, I had a really good time being out in nature and just observing my surroundings.  The hike was perfect for me, because I love exercise and climbing.  Even though some of the girls had a hard time, I think the overall experience was good for everyone.  It was nice to just connect with the world and let all my problems and worries go. Once we came back to camp, it was really fun to spend time with the girls.  On the hike, it was especially nice to bond with [my new friend]. I loved the way the sky looked; it was gray, but had patches of sun which looked absolutely beautiful.  Experiences like this don't come every day, so when we have them, we should enjoy them.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fishing at Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School

Every month or so, Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School plans a student workshop for the students.  The idea is to get them doing something different and unique while focusing a bit more on their therapeutic progress.  As we mentioned in our last blog post, some of the boys recently went camping and fishing. This is great fun for them as a lot of them come from wilderness programs before arriving here. This student did just that, and had a unique perspective to offer about their recent adventure.

So a few weeks ago, a few of the guys on campus had the privilege of going on an overnight camping trip for a few nights. We actually had a lot of fun with fishing, hanging out with each other and the two staff that took us on the trip, and just having fun.  It was great being out in the woods for the first time in a long time, especially for the two of us that went to a wilderness program prior to coming to Cedar Ridge. We got to cook our own food, for the group of us, and joke around with each other in a way that was actually fun and easy to do in a non-disrespectful way. The five of us students had a ball spending time with our off-campus versions of some of the staff, which was definitely a huge bundle of fun.
Enjoying our tarp shelter!

The main point of this trip was really to go fishing and to have fun with that, but along the way we got to go frolicking in a field the furthest away from any parental authority any of us has been since before CRA. It rained the day we drove up to the mountains where we were going to be camping during the trip so while we were setting up our shelters we got a little wet, but it was still fun. The two of us that went to a wilderness program prior helped our the other three guys set up their tarp shelters since its really an unusual way to camp. But since we had experience, we thought, “why not” and just helped to fix up their stuff. Anyway, all of the kids that went on the trip caught at least one fish and our fish catching leader caught nine! One of the kids actually caught his first ever fish, which was pretty cool to see. I hope to go fishing again soon.

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Camping Trip at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School

In August, Cedar Ridge Academy Private Therapeutic Boarding School organized a camping trip for boys to attend.  The purpose of the trip was to build relationships and to create a great environment for therapeutic conversations.  I asked the students to write a bit about what they did while they were gone and what they enjoyed.  Here are three different student responses.

One student said:
The camping trip was definitely one of the best times I’ve had since I’ve been at Cedar Ridge. There were a lot of things I saw and did for the first time, such as seeing a moose and catching my first fish. It was really beautiful and peaceful up in the mountains where we were at and we were able to just relax and talk or play games in between meals and fishing. We built some really cool tarp shelters, which the kids from wilderness were pros at and all theirs looked awesome. We also managed to bring some pretty delicious food out there for some comfort
Cooking in style
 camping. I can’t wait until we get the chance to do something like this again.
Another student commented:
Yeah, I had a pretty good time on the camping trip. At first I was a little worried when the first few minutes we got there, it began to rain. Frolicking in the fields was pretty dope, especially when I had the time to meditate and think about my life. The experience was pretty nature-like as I slept on the rugged floor under a tarp that was three feet off the ground. Fishing was great, even though I fell into the lake.  I am glad to have had the experience to get closer to Mother Nature and understand the environment in Utah.
This student had great success with the fishing aspect:
Staying dry while camping
I had a great time on the camping trip. We got to build our own shelters (with the help of some of the kids who went to wilderness) and cooked our own food which tasted even better because we cooked it. I really liked the fishing. I caught around 6 fish, but nearly all of them were at the first lake. I really enjoyed the campfires we had and playing hacky-sack. I hope I can do it again.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Teacher's Perspective of Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Private Boarding School

As certified teachers, we help as many students at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Private Boarding School succeed in their academics.  Science teacher, Chad, reflected on what he does everyday to achieve these goals. (For further reading, see Kimberly's and James' perspectives on school)

I’ve been teaching for almost ten years at Cedar Ridge Academy. I teach biology, earth systems, environmental science, and health – and I tutor Spanish and chemistry. I taught textbook-and syllabus-based classes until about a year ago, when we started doing online school. As could be expected some things are a lot different with the online classes. For example, with the old system the primary source of information was the textbook, whereas now it’s the online lecture and accompanying information - and the notes the students type as they listen to their lectures.

Even though it would appear that things are significantly different now, the things I do day-to-day haven’t really changed that much.  I still spend a majority of my time tutoring students one-on-one in the subjects that I teach. I always have a bunch of scratch paper and a pen in hand so I can visually illustrate concepts for the students as I help them understand those concepts.

I also spend a lot of time grading students’ assignments.  The online multiple-choice and true-false questions are automatically graded, and the grades based on those questions are automatically recorded in the system - but I go through and look at the short answer and essay questions, and after that I change the grades for the assignments as necessary. Overall, I spend less time entering grades on grade sheets than I did before.

Excitement after a hands-on activity!
As with the book and syllabus-based classes, I still try to find ways to help individual students learn. I sometimes refer them to the text-books we previously used so they can see the books’ illustrations – including charts and graphs. Recently a biology student was having a hard time understanding the structure of DNA and how it replicates, and the process through which it is used to produce proteins - so I gave him guidance while he did a hands-on activity from a biology text-book using little pieces of colored paper. A few days later I had him play an online game where he learned about blood-typing. This boy is a kinesthetic, or hands-on- learner , and these activities helped him to better understand the things he was learning in his online class.

Each week each student at Cedar Ridge has an opportunity to participate in a supplemental science instruction. I have one period for girls and two different periods for boys (since we have more boys at our school). We do a variety of things during these periods, including natural history walks around the Cedar Ridge campus where the students learn about local flora and fauna. Some of the students have been learning about plant identification and have been putting together a plant collection, and some other students have been learning to identify animal footprints and have been making plaster casts of footprints. Students have also been learning about electricity and have been using an electric model to figure out how to fix a problem with the light switches in one of the buildings on our campus. The joy on the face of the first student (one of the girls) to successfully make the model work correctly was priceless.
Students enjoy learning about and handling our resident snake, Cedro the Honduran milk snake – and the science room also generally has a collection of other creatures (currently a couple of spiders and a scorpion). 

Part of my duty at Cedar Ridge Academy is serving as a teacher/mentor for a group of students. We have mandatory weekly percentages the students are asked to meet in their classes, and I keep track of which of my students are successful in meeting those expectations, and which students need extra time to work on school during “mandatory after school study hour”. Student weekly expectations used to be based on the number of assignments completed, and now they are based on percentages of classes completed - but other than that the processes are about the same. 

Chad passes a beetle to a student to hold

I enjoy being a teacher at Cedar Ridge Academy. I enjoy getting to know my students, and I enjoy helping them learn about science and the other subjects I assist with; and I also enjoy modeling for my students the joy of learning and understanding things. I think the blended-learning model we use here at Cedar Ridge is a great way for students to learn and to prepare for the continued education and careers that lie ahead for them. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

FAQ about Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Private Boarding School

Being a private high school, as teachers we get a lot of questions about how we do school at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Private Boarding School.  Social Studies teacher, Kimberly, tackled some of the most frequently asked questions about our blended learning model.

Is Cedar Ridge Academy an accredited high school?
We are an accredited high school that focuses on assisting students to move forward towards graduation by assisting with credit recovery and competency.  All teachers require a grade of 80% to complete a course, and work with students to achieve this goal.

What mode of learning does your school use?
We have a blended learning model, which allows for students to work at their own pace.  As parents and educators, we understand that students learn differently, just like we all have unique qualities. Some students do not fit into the traditional public school model easily, whether they are a behavior distraction, need more time to complete and process work, or need to increase their learning. By allowing students to work at their own pace, the students have more control over how long they spend on the material.  

Unexpected learning moments.
We achieve this individual-based learning with an online curriculum supplied by Edgenuity (formerly named Education2020 and Park City Independent). Their curriculum is also accredited, and over the last year that I have been using it is a great help to students who learn in different modes and in different ways.  A lot of educators will use the terms: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic to describe students.  This curriculum assists students in learning in all three ways.  They provide visual PowerPoints and audio lectures for each lesson material.  This also assist students who process a little bit slower because they can pause the teacher and take their notes.  Kinesthetic learners enjoy the games that are used to reinforce the material.  The assignments also require students to really dive deep into the text with short answer and essay questions along with multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and true/false questions.

However, not every student learns the material with just the online resources.  All students need review and practice to really get the material down and that is my main role as a teacher at Cedar Ridge Academy. I assist students when the material does not make sense as we pick apart a story together in English or I am reviewing a person in history to help fill in the gaps in their learning.  I also plan interactive lesson plans for direct instructions so that students can work together in groups, participate in discussions, and complete hands-on-activities.

But if it is all online, why should I send my student to your school?
The online curriculum is just the mode in which students first tangle with the material along with completing and submitting their assignments.  I still grade everything that they are doing, which is a great way for me to know how they are doing in their classes.  Teachers call this formative assessments, but we form a picture of what the student is learning.  When I read a student’s assignment, I understand what they learned from the material and see where they might be struggling still.  In addition, a computer can’t figure out what a student still needs help with in the class and that is where I come in.  Teachers call this differentiated instruction, but it basically means tailoring it to each individual student. Overall, that’s why I love teaching here—I teach the students each individually.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blending Learning at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Private Boarding School

At Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Private Boarding School, we believe in a rigorous curriculum for our academics. This curriculum translates into a blended learning model.  Math teacher, James, discusses what this looks like at our private academy.

First of all, we should talk about definitions. Blended learning is the process of delivering some of the instructional content in a given course through technological means, typically over some online applet on computer, coupled with face-to-face instruction by a teacher or professor.

The amount of technology delivered this way can range from full online instruction with fully-graded assignments and the face-to-face being mostly optional, to largely traditional instruction with the occasional online learning resources, typically used for homework (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Blending Learning
Figure 1: Blended Learning
At Cedar Ridge Academy, we follow a blended model that sits right in the middle of the continuum. The students meet daily face-to-face with teachers, and spend significant time with those teachers covering topics where they need either differentiated or supplementary instruction.

Further, here we have found a balance where students can move at a self-paced rhythm while still having access to the best parts of a traditional classroom. This lends itself to creating a good environment where the student feels empowered over his/her own education and can learn well in a non-threatening and non-competitive environment that still provides the highest standards for the child’s education.

The available research on the blended learning classroom (see Bolkan, 2012) suggests that while blended learning models don’t necessarily present a clearly superior model than the traditional classroom, with blended learning student engagement and self-reported enthusiasm are significantly higher than in the traditional classrooms.

In education, we learn that student engagement and application are the two best indicators for whether a student will learn and potentially apply a given lesson. The research shows that because technology-delivered resources tend to improve student engagement, for many students their performance increases as well. This is particularly true for students who have learning exceptionalities and students who come from challenging socio-economic circumstances.

James assisting a student with their assignment
We see the proof in that pudding every day here at Cedar Ridge. We have seen students who struggle even to engage in any subject turn around and not only engage with school but excel in their classes, maintaining over 80% proficiency in their classes. The role of the teacher is crucial in making that a reality. Students often have questions or misunderstandings that a recorded lecture simply cannot resolve. In these times, the students have the opportunity to meet with a certified and highly-qualified teacher in their subject area to help them to resolve these concerns and overcome their roadblocks.

This is particularly true in Math. Many students, while they do perform much higher with the instant-feedback systems of online courses, still find that they need additional feedback in order to approach their online practice. I find that most of my day is taken up assisting these students and differentiating their instruction to fit them as an individual learner and help them to be successful in Math.

In short, the research shows what we see every day here at CRA: students who learn online with the help of a face-to-face instructor dramatically improve their scholastic performance and their confidence, which leads to long-term esteem improvement and further positive school performance. 

While these same outcomes may be possible through other means, the online portion of their instruction helps to track their progress, gives them individual pacing flexibility, and maintains the highest state, regional and national standards for all instructional units. With a small staff in a small school, we would not be able to deliver the variety of content that online materials allow, nor would we be able to offer them in a way that ensures students’ self-paced discovery of their potential. These benefits, among many others, make me a firm supporter and believer in the blended learning model we have adopted.

References 2012. Blended Learning: Where Online and Face-to-Face Instruction Intersect for 21st Century Teaching and Learning. Eduviews November 2012. Taken on 7/22/2013 from
Bolkan, J. 2012. School Reform Through Blended Learning. the Journal. Taken on 7/22/2013 from

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