For the past few months, TSCS 11th grader Anthony Foster has been fishing. And hiking. And rafting. And cooking. And going on expeditions. He has also been studying math, science, English, history, Spanish, leadership, and physical education.
How does he manage to do all this?
Anthony is the latest TSCS student to be accepted into the Alzar School, which offers a unique educational experience in Idaho and the Patagonia Region of Chile, and which has a longstanding partnerships with TSCS. This year, he was the only student in the Shelby County Schools to be accepted.
Alzar develops young leaders like Anthony through integrating a rigorous academic curriculum, cultural exchange, and outdoor adventure. Students are developed as leaders through rich academic study, taking advantage of small class sizes, and powerful connections to the program and the experience. Perspectives are broadened through cultural exchange by living and studying in two hemispheres alongside peers from across the world. Personal growth is nurtured through the challenge of exploring wild places on expeditions that build technical skills, 360-degree thinking, and confidence. Through Alzar’s Six Foundations (leadership development, academics, cultural exchange, outdoor adventure, service learning, and environmental stewardship), Alzar School challenges motivated, passionate future leaders.
Alzar School is a 501c3 nonprofit school dedicated to developing leaders. Their team of passionate educators are committed and talented. Students join Alzar from around the world, from all backgrounds, but with a common desire to hone their leadership skills so they can make a difference in the world.
Alzar School uses the outdoors as a platform for growth. Their expeditions are powerful experiences for students, and on campus there are opportunities to practice skills between expeditions. In the field, students learn that they are more capable than they imagined, and they develop technical skills that allow them to explore some of the world’s most beautiful places. During expeditions and through on-campus programs, students rotate through designated leadership opportunities.
Alzar School’s motto is: “When we need a classroom, the world awaits.” On whitewater rafting and backpacking expeditions, students continue their academic studies through place-based expedition lessons. For math, students might calculate the volume and carrying capacity of a raft, while in science they might investigate macroinvertebrates as indicators of water quality. Culture abounds as students learn about Mapuche indigenous people while backpacking in Chile, or while rafting in the Main Salmon, learn about the Nez Perce and Native American policy in the late 1800s, or the more recent mountain man Buckskin Bill.
Students spend approximately six weeks of the semester in the field exploring the Chilean Andes and western landscapes. Specific expeditions vary depending on water levels and other considerations, but the semester may include paddling the Salmon River, exploring the Owyhee Desert, kayaking the Baker River in Patagonia, trekking in Patagonia National Park, and wilderness first aid and swiftwater rescue courses.
Beyond expeditions, the outdoors are integrated into the semester during after school and weekend activities. After class students may spend time hiking on the campus trail, heading to the Barn to learn how to maintain WhisperLite stoves, or paddling at the whitewater park two miles upstream of campus.
An Alzar School education is designed to set students up for continued success in high school and beyond, and data shows that student GPAs increase after a semester at Alzar School. Education is expanded through the unique opportunities presented by international and residential programming.
We wish Anthony the best of luck and success in this endeavor, and look forward to his return so he can recount stories for us about spending time in Idaho and Patagonia with likeminded students from all over the world.