Eighth-grader eyes 2013 and spot in Caprock Academy’s 1st senior class

Dan Saturnino, an 8th grade teacher at Caprock School, with his 8th grade class at Caprock. Most of this class will be going on to the 9th grade at Caprock next year.

If all goes as planned, eighth-grader Victoria Schwietert will graduate in 2013 with Caprock Academy’s first senior class.

The K-8, public charter school at 640 24 1/2 Road opens to ninth-graders during the start of its school year at the end of July. As planned, the school will add a class each year for the next four years, until it is a high school.

“I get a bit of a higher education than at other schools,” Victoria said while studying in a group at school Thursday. “I’m learning Latin. It helps me learn other languages.”

Caprock Academy, which has been in operation for two years, focuses its curriculum on classical education. High school students will take classes in foreign languages, philosophy, rhetoric and fine arts, in addition to math and sciences.

The new high school will be modeled after Ridgeview Classical School in Fort Collins, which was chosen as one of the top 15 high schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

“Hopefully in eight years, we’ll have that distinction,” Caprock headmaster Kristin Trezise said.

About 15 students are slated for Caprock’s first class of ninth-graders, but the school can accept as many as 30 students in that grade.

Ninth-grade students will study classical literature, such as Shakespeare, Plato and Homer. A history class includes Western Civilization, instead of geography, which is generally taught to freshmen in School District 51.

“Our goal is to give a great foundation, so when students do leave us they can go and do whatever they want: vocational school, college or a selective university,” Trezise said.

Trezise said the school will add a building with 10 classrooms to house the additional students.

No tuition is required, except for full-time kindergarten. Students wear uniforms, which include red, white and blue tops with khaki or navy-blue pants, skirts or shorts.

There are 22 students in the eighth-grade class this year. School is taught four days a week, from the end of July to June, and students get longer breaks than traditional public-school students during the school year. Students attend school 160 days a year, with 1,080 in-seat hours, which is common among public schools.

Ideally, students will be encouraged to study in another country during their junior or senior years, Trezise said.

Eighth-grade teacher Dan Saturnino said his students are tackling material that 10th-graders are doing in other states. Students are reading John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” and works by Ernest Hemingway.

Saturnino said the school is an encouraging place to teach because students engage in lively conversations and are respectful of others.

“I love it because I can have a college-level discussion at this level,” he said.

Saturnino joked, “I have to beat these kids back with a stick to get them to end the discussion.”


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