In this space, read the voices of our students as they reflect on their personal experiences, school activities, and social life at Sky Islands. They provide a window onto student culture, what students find here and the community they create together at Sky Islands.
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Class of 2021 Graduate Reflections of Sky Islands
I remember the first time I saw Sky Islands High School. It was near the end of my eighth grade year and I was under pressure to find a High School I wanted to attend. I had gone to open houses and school tours. But none of them seemed right to me. When viewing the five different schools they all looked the same, they all looked like what I already had. I was like ‘God, I do really want to go through middle school again?’ No, so there must be some school out there for me.
That is when I heard of Sky Islands High School. My father had heard about it from a friend and so one day after school he suggested that we drive by Sky Islands to check it out. As my father drove by Sky Islands we came across the front of the school and there lay the C2E Restoration Site with a sign explaining how students built and designed that area. I found that very intriguing and unique for a school because it was environmental but also includes their students with every aspect of the school. At that moment I knew this was where I wanted to attend. I wanted to go to this school because it had an outdoor program but really that wasn’t even the best part to Sky Islands High School.
What truly is the core of Sky Islands is its community and school culture. Through Sky Islands I have met the greatest teachers and inspirational peers.
It was at Sky Islands that I became acquainted with the term Ubuntu. Which is an African philosophy that may be summarized as ‘I am because who we all are’. I learned of Ubuntu within my first week at Sky Islands. It was described to me as Sky Islands ideology. I am because who we all are. How is this the ideology of Sky Islands?
Well, we all work together to collaborate on projects. A whole class or the school comes together as a team to achieve our goal. Whether that be building a chicken coop, maintaining our garden, constructing a three bin composting system, or making lunch.
Students and staff coalesce in designing school projects. Students in the Restoration Ecology class spent two months planning the Audubon site. Not only did the Restoration Ecology class design but they also implemented the creation of the area. Students in the Research, Studies, and Design class and Ecobiology class developed and manufactured a tortoise habitat.The Design Build class and the Animal Studies class constructed a chicken coop that is now a fundamental program of Sky Islands.
We create connections and solidarity with one another at this school when we accomplish a project together as a community. We are all equals at Sky Islands. We are a fellowship. At Sky Islands we have all school councils and eat hand made food in one another’s good company. We do not compete here but unite. We all feel safe here, safe to contribute, to have dialogue, and share ideas.
We had an all school tree planting-day yesterday, directly across from the C2E site that had once so inspired me. The contoured earth is designed specifically to conserve rainfall. The rock work is pieced together as though it was meant to be there. Native trees have been planted, restoring the land to it’s once immaculate bousque. The flycatchers, cotton tails, roadrunners, and pheobes will thrive in this site. Maybe even prospective students will be inspired by this natural habitat like I once was.
-Ellie, 2021 Valedictorian
Class of 2020 Graduate Reflections of Sky Islands
Most of all though, I’ll miss the positive community the school promotes and working with trustworthy, friendly teachers and peers. Truly, the Sky Islands community helped bring a happiness to me that I don’t think I would have found at another school. –Jasmine, Valedictorian
Teachers . . . made me feel like I could do anything. They inspired me to achieve greater heights and were always willing to lend me an extra hand when I needed it the most. It is from the joint efforts of all my teachers that I have been able to make strides in my current achievements. –Sarah R.
I am really going to miss this place. It’s a wonderful school, amazing teachers with impressive events. I would recommend going to this school for what it has to offer. There isn’t a place quite like it. –Isaiah
I am proud to have been a part of the Sky Islands community for the past four years, and to have contributed to what Sky Island stands for; we are a school that strongly encourages conservation and use of sustainable concepts. This is promoted in the teaching and also by the projects we participated in. All the students have learned how to practically apply these concepts not only in our own lives, but also how to promote them in our local community. Sky Islands has helped to prepare the senior class for life after high school, providing exceptional teachers, guidance, and direction. –Evan
At Sky Islands, you do a lot and you’ll learn a lot. –Makayla
One thing I will miss about Sky Islands is the community. During my time at this school, I hardly felt alone because I always knew that I could hang out with a fellow student or even a teacher. Everyone was friendly and extremely welcoming to me, which is something I will never forget. Another thing I will miss is the teachers. At Sky Islands, you can tell that the teachers truly care about their students and want them to do as best as they can. –Sarah S.
All-School Tree Planting Day / March 2019
Nadia: My older schools never really did anything like that event. It was really fun to get out and enjoy planting the trees. I’m not very social, so hanging out with funny teammates was really nice. This school has many well-grown crops and plants; it adds so much more to the good crops/plants and the trees are going to look amazing when they grow. We usually sit around all day in a classroom, so it was cool to get moving. It would also be cool to have another event like this. This school already seems to be growing, lots of improvement and just a great school/community.
Sarava: My group planted four trees. I dug and used a pickaxe, I handled mulch, and helped water the newly planted trees. I felt the whole experience was fun, plenty of physical work, and I worked surprisingly well with my group. The best part of the day was when our tree snapped due to an accident, and now it’s sittin’ pretty with some pink zebra duct tape.
Sophia: For the whole tree planting day I was in the culinary class making food for our hard workers. Honestly, I’m glad I was making them food, they definitely deserved it. I think both sides worked hard. But those planting trees worked a lot more and were in the hot sun. I appreciate them. We put our hearts into the food we made that day. I felt proud to be able to cook for the students who worked really hard to help the school reach its goal. I’m so proud of the school and how much we can work together as a community to help reach a goal. I love our small loving school.
Olivia: For this day, I helped distribute trees to planting groups. I also directed groups to check in to see if their tree needed inoculation. I felt immensely proud of the work I did. It was an empowering day for me as well, for I was contributing to the survival of native species. Overall, this day (and my job) made me thankful that I am in the Restoration Ecology class. For me, all of the difficult times I had in that class were worth it. I learned to stand up for myself when I was faced with conflict.
Byrdee: On March 14th, 2019, our entire school had a tree planting day in the new Audubon Site. The first thing we had to do was dig a hole twice as wide as the pot the tree was in and only as deep as the base of the tree. The digging was slow and difficult due to the caliche. It was also hard to judge the depth of the pit to make sure it matched with the base of the tree. I think I might’ve flooded tree 9, slightly, but by our third tree (41) I got it down fairly well. All in all, I was tired by the end of the day, and excited about planting my first trees, ever! Our entire school actually planted every tree we had that day and it felt very accomplishing.
Kirsten: It was still fun even though it was tough, I feel like it brought the school together.
Oraibi: I think that having a large-scale project such as this can be a great way to bring students from all grades and friend groups together and get them to set aside their differences and reservations, so they can work together. I think this can be a great way to prepare them for future prospects where they will have to work together with people they may not know or even like on a grueling yet rewarding projectthat is bigger than them. It’s also a great bonding experience also that can bring the students and staff closer together.
Orion: The day before spring break this year our school had a day to plant trees in the restoration ecology site. This was very fun and interesting to do instead of a regular class. On the first tree that my group planted all of the soil came out and crumbled off of the tree roots and the tree dropped slightly and snapped after this. Teachers came over and duct taped it back together. This was very interesting to me because I didn’t know that you could tape the tree back together and the tree would graft back together. This will come in handy someday when I accidentally break a tree or woody-stemmed plant so that I know how to fix it. My favorite part of that day was using the pickaxe because I find it kind of fun to break up caliche clay using the pickaxe.
Haiden: The process was tiring but afterward, I felt really proud and accomplished. My favorite part of the tree planting was putting the trees into the ground and putting the soil on them and naming them.
Cole: I’ll be honest I’ve never done hard work like this before. I went to private schools for most of my life and they had a lot of strict rules. So having the chance to work hard with everyone helping was a fun and interesting. The best part for me was naming the trees I planted. We laughed about it and it’s kind of relieving to name them knowing I finished something big!
Anthony: I also liked how the TV news came and filmed us because that was a great way to share with the community what we do here.
Lukas: I helped out in the kitchen and we made pizza and prepared for lunch. We got all the pizza cranked out on time and there were a lot of compliments from the students about how good the pizza tasted. We should do this more often.
Tristan: On Thursday I worked outside by inoculating the plants that needed it. I have been in the restoration ecology class since it started, and I love working in the class. I have been a part of multiple projects at the school and I think it is awesome when the school comes together as a group to get a huge project done. The restoration ecology class has taught me a lot about horticulture and restoration and so have the other classes I have taken at the school. One thing I really love about the school is that it is really hands on. The school has inspired me to go to further schooling for a horticulture degree and maybe become a landscape designer when I am older.
Savannah: I really enjoyed the whole school working together. I think that it’s an important part of our school. Not only does the project bring us together, but it also helps the environment. Planting the trees was sometimes a difficult experience because of having to dig through the caliche. The project was an amazing experience.
Emme: The tree planting day was an important day for the restoration class. We are very close to finishing the Audubon site that we have had a grant for. I think it was a good experience for all the students. The whole school was able to be put into random groups and get all 45 trees planted. Now, all the students know how easy it is to plant a tree, and they might want to do it at home.
Jen: I felt that I accomplished something as an individual and as well as a teammate. Working as a team/or group made my experience working together and communicating all together as a group made the whole day easier and not just that, communicating with one another made those who didn’t knowhow to plant a tree to learn how to plant more accurately and right.