*Important* First Day of School and New Electives Information

Sky Islands is celebrating our 5TH ANNUAL FIRST DAY on August 6 this year.

Welcome to the new Sky Islanders, and to those of you returning.

So pack your bags!

It’s almost time to head back to School!

Please note that the school year begins on August 6 and the school day begins at 9 am and ends at 2:30 pm this year.   We have also allowed for a full week-long break between 1st and 2nd fall quarters, so please pay attention to the calendar for scheduling changes during the year.

In anticipation of our 5th school year, we’d like to update you on the special features this year brings:

  1. We proudly welcome to our staff this year two new teachers— Susan Lantz in Language Arts, and Rafael Pivaral will be teaching Spanish language.   Returning to get you through AIMS Math is Simon Wickens, Lukas Bogard in Science, Social Studies is brought to you by Will Hodges, and Dustin Bellows will be adding a Building with Earth class. 
  2. The website has been growing, thanks to Lukas’ tireless efforts.  Send your friends to see the new course listings and parade of new photos, and recruit them to become Sky Islanders, if they aren’t already. 
  3. We are very excited to announce our roster of electives for this school year— Sociology; Building with Earth along with a Drafting and Design class; an Integrated Science class that will lead to a trip to CEDO on the Sea of Cortez in summer 2013 along with a beginning Spanish class; Garden Ecology and Urban Ecology classes;  and an outdoor leadership class.  Enrollment in each elective class will be conditional on grades, conduct and attendance, and grade level.
  4. State budget news and school funding, as you all know, is a continuing nightmare.   In addition to supplies, we are asking each of you for program support.  It will take the shape of student fees of $20 per student to cover the costs of a student planner (new this year) specially designed for our school year, and a water bottle—no more cups at the office.   There will be supplies required for each class that are your responsibility—binders and paper, pens and pencils, erasers, etc.   Any extra supplies required for your classes will be explained the first week of classes by your teachers.

As always, your State Tax Credits will go a long way this year to help us keep expenses manageable and avoid further fees.    Please plan to make that a part of your contribution to Sky Islands this year.

We are all looking forward to an exciting 5th year at Sky Islands.  Your help is always welcome.

Best regards,

                     Dr Shari Popen/ Director                                   Sandi Rosado/ Associate Director

                           Sky Islanders!  New electives for this year…

Choose in order of preference / pay attention to the requirements

  1. _______   Building with Earth/ two semesters

                        Instructor:  Dustin Bellows

Travel to sites around southern Arizona where earth structures have been built and learn first-hand how to build your own structure from the ground up. Study the design and ecology of earth buildings, from strawbale and cob to earthships made with recycled tires.  Learn about load bearing and building codes, passive solar energy, water harvesting and the principles of permaculture.

Requirements:  Open to all students grades 9-12.  This course is taught together with Drafting and Design—students should enroll in both.

                 Drafting and Design/ two semesters

                 Instructor:  Rafael Pivaral

Students will learn to draw plans for different models of structures that will include foundations and framing, dimensions and elevations, sections and details, and provide written structural notes. Drafting will be taught using manual and Autocad methods.

Requirements:  Open to all students grades 9-12.  This course is taught together with Building with Earth—students should enroll in both.

2. ______     Garden Ecology/ Cutler Farm/ one semester

            Instructor:  Will Hodges with Cutler Farm staff

Students will travel to the 7-acre Cutler Farm on River Road for hands-in-the-dirt community gardening.  You will learn about the history and practice of community gardening, where to find and start community gardens in Tucson, why Farmers’ Markets are important, controlling insect pests and composting, mulching, soils and weeds. You will design and conduct an action project and create a Gardener Story by interviewing a gardener.

Requirements:  Open to students in grades 9-12.  This course is the other half of the Urban Ecology/ Tucson class.

                 Urban ecology/ Tucson/ one semester

            Instructor:  Shari Popen

Aldo Leopold said that land should be viewed as an entity with which we need to strive to develop an ethical relationship in his statement of the “land ethic” – “A thing is right if it tends to preserve the stability, integrity, and beauty of the biotic community.”   It is wrong if it does not.  As city-dwellers, it is important for us to identify the urban ecosystems and what we can do to identify the integrity and beauty of the places we inhabit—to develop an ‘urban land ethic’.  In this class we will study Tucson and look at what the city tells us about the health of our urban ecosystem—our roads and public transportation, buildings and downtown areas, water and air quality, and our capacity to connect with others. 

Requirements:  Open to students in grades 9-12.  This course is the other half of the Natural Ecology/Cutler Farm class.

3.      ______     Integrated Science/ CEDO Intercultural/ two semesters

                 Instructor:  Lukas Bogard

Journey from the tops of southern Arizona’s sky islands through the Sonoran Desert, along the Colorado River, and out to the Sea of Cortez, learning about the geology, ecology, history, culture, and conservation along the way.   This year-long course will be an in-depth look at our regional ecosystem, and will prepare us for a two-week trip to CEDO (the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans) in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora/ Mexico, in summer 2013.   For two weeks at the Sea of Cortez students will carry out individual research projects, learn about the local ecology and conservation efforts, visit the moon-like Pinacate desert, check out the world-famous tide pools, and hopefully get to snorkel with sea lion pups.

Requirements:  Limited to students in grades 11 with grades of C or better in all classes (12th graders may petition to enroll); students must have no outstanding conduct issues, good attendance, and be willing to take (or already have taken) beginning Spanish.  We will also need to raise funding for the CEDO school trip.

                  Beginning Spanish/ two semesters

                 Instructor:  Rafael Pivaral

This class is required for participation in the Integrated Science/ CEDO class.  Spanish grammar and vocabulary will be taught using the active Total Physical Response/ TPR method, and students will be expected to be able to speak conversational Spanish in Puerto Peñasco in July 2013.

Requirements:  Required for students enrolled in the CEDO course (students who are not enrolled in the CEDO course but want to take Spanish may petition to enroll).

4. ______     Sociology/ two semesters                                                                  

                      Instructor:  Lukas Bogard

The subject matter of sociology is everywhere, and is constantly a part of our lives and how we see our world.  Studying sociology opens us up to new ways of looking, and shows us the larger social influences on our lives and the lives of others—such as the media, globalization, new technologies, our relationship to the environment and increasing diversity. In this class, students will learn to see how society works, develop critical thinking skills, and engage in the social issues that affect our lives.  You will take part in an action research project that will require planning, taking action, observing, evaluating (including self-evaluation) and critical reflection.

Requirements: Open to students in grades 10-12.

5.      ______     Basin and Range Adventures/ two semesters

                 Instructor:  Dustin Bellows

Students will learn team-building, survival skills, and develop environmental leadership abilities in the National Outdoor Leadership School/NOLS tradition.  Activities include in-class work and out-of-doors short hikes and longer backpacking trips in the Basin and Range area of Arizona.  Basin and Range is characterized by steep, linear mountain ranges alternating with wide desert plains. These mountains, particularly in the southeast corner of the state, can rise above 9,000 feet and create “sky islands” inhabited by cool-climate plants and animals.

Requirements:  Open to students in grades 10-12.


Please Send Your Preferences to: office@skyislands.org

It’s first come, first serve, so act fast!