SYRCL Announces Partnership With New Expeditionary Learning High School, Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning!

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By: Alex Ezzell, Board President, Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning

SAEL students doing benthic macroinvertebrate sampling
SAEL students doing benthic macroinvertebrate sampling

Do you remember those amazing kids who decided that closing the South Yuba River State Park was a bad idea? Through collaboration with SYRCL, these 4th – 8th graders helped to achieve what others could not. They saved our park!

These students were from Grass Valley Charter School, a pre – k through 8th grade Mentor school in the national network of Expeditionary Learning (EL). Saving our South Yuba River State Park was no easy task, but it was not an isolated occurrence of students achieving more than anyone thought possible.

Another Expeditionary Learning school was recently plugged by President Obama in his State of the Union address, as well as praised by Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, “as the way school ought to be.” All across the county, not only do EL schools consistently outperform academic scores of their local districts, they also places an emphasis on the values of The Natural World, Solitude & Reflection and the importance of Service & Compassion.

These amazing kids were supported by their community, SYRCL, their teachers and the philosophy of Expeditionary Learning and thus able to turn their passion into effective determined action. These elementary & middle school students taught us that young people do change our world when provided with support.

Now imagine if there was a high school in Nevada County that would support our students not only to survive, but to thrive in their teenage years. A school that provided students with real life application of classroom content, a school that emphasizes character & culture alongside academics, a school where every student is known by outstanding teachers & administrators, a school where families do not disengage from their child’s education as they enter the formative teenage years.  Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning (SAEL) is such a school and is opening in the Fall of 2014!

SAEL is an intentionally small public charter high school opening with 9th & 10 the grade. Located on the Bear River Campus, SAEL will cap growth at 60 students per grade. Through partnering with the Nevada Joint Union High School District to co-locate at Bear River, students at SAEL will have the benefits of a small learning community while still having access to resources traditionally only available to larger schools.

SYRCL & SAEL are pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding that will support mutually beneficial organizational objectives in the areas of Programmatic Goals, Public Relations/Outreach, Grants and Events.

“SYRCL & SAEL share common philosophies and goals relating to environmental stewardship and the important role of education in reaching these outcomes. SYRCL is re-launching our historically successful River Education program and seeking to engage high school age students, while the educational philosophy of SAEL relies upon community engagement supporting fieldwork, experts, adventure, service learning, and so on,” said Caleb Dardick, SYRCL Executive Director.

Deadlines for enrollment are upcoming. To learn more about how SAEL could support your high school aged student, please go to the website at, attend one of our Community Info Nights or check out our video at

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