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Posted April 4, 2005

A Trailhead to Success
Rimrock, Arizona
Darren Prince, Admissions Director

Visit by: Lon Woodbury, January 24, 2005

Copper Canyon Academy Rimrock, AZ The approach to the main building of Copper Canyon Academy is always impressive; a two-story mansion modeled after the style of the old south. It has charm, plenty of inside room and atmosphere. As an all-girls school, a girl's first view of the school must be at least somewhat reassuring to her that she is not going to be living in bare rooms of concrete blocks. The reassuring thought might even cross her mind that perhaps the owners of her new school have some taste.

When I arrived, the girls were scurrying around with mops, brooms and carrying old carpet out of the building. Darren explained that Arizona had just endured record rain with flooding that had threatened the building, and resulted in a tremendous amount of mud being tracked into the building. The result was that since the old carpeting was almost ready for replacement anyway, they decided it would be better to buy new carpeting. The girls had enthusiastically jumped into the redecorating project, helping pick new carpet patterns, and working at cleaning out the old to make the floor ready for the new carpeting. Their clean-up was in full swing during the afternoon I arrived.

On the little hill behind the mansion are the classrooms, which are new since my last visit five years ago. The classrooms are accessible by a skywalk from the second floor of the mansion. The girls can easily walk from their dorm rooms across the skywalk to the well-provisioned classrooms, which include a number of computers. The school is well wired for computers, with its own server, and of course strict control on Internet access. The classrooms reflect the serious commitment the school has toward their academics, and is accredited with a college prep curriculum. Competitive sports is also an important part of the program, and several of the girls at the time of my visit were leaving for a sports event, and others were just returning from another sports event. Copper Canyon is very active in Arizona sports leagues in basketball, softball, volleyball and soccer.

A major expansion of the school was represented by a pile of rocks a short distance from the Mansion, close to an old church currently used for activities and groups. This pile of rocks represents the first step to laying the foundation for a new building. It was explained that the school will move into the new building, and the Junior School will be moved from its current location in Camp Verde a few miles away into the Mansion. Of course, having the two programs close to each other has obvious administrative and program advantages.

Copper Canyon Academy looks at helping girls within a whole child perspective. The program is designed to help develop improvement and awareness in five areas: emotional, mental, physical, social and spiritual. Implementation of each of these five areas is visible to any visitor. For example, by focusing on building a sense of community, and I saw a real sense of community while I was there, the girls are working most obviously in the social and emotional areas. Or, in their physical activities such as nature hikes in the surrounding areas or even sports, they are not only working on physical growth, but also use that for increased spiritual understanding and can even earn academic credit. In the classrooms, they of course are working on improving their mental abilities, but even in the classroom, there are opportunities for increasing awareness in the emotional, social and spiritual areas. Like any well thought out program, you never do just one thing. Any activity will touch the whole child, and thus have implications in all five areas. The academy seems to have grasped that concept very well, and does a good job of implementing it.

As I usually find in my visits, the girls' dorms and personal space in the dorms varied widely. At one extreme was the rather bare space of a girl who was still upset about being there. Another space felt warm and cozy with a lot of stuffed animals and family pictures by the girl who had progressed to where she was comfortable with herself and ready to graduate. Come to think of it, this measurement of progress is as good a way as any to show how the academy is helping to create the positive changes in the girls' lives.

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Copyright © 2005, Woodbury Reports, Inc.
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