High school to debut fall ex-ed schedule

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Urban Immersion — The Bronx, 2014. What it is: Volunteering and exploring service opportunities in the Bronx. What it is NOT: It is NOT a shopping trip.
Courtesy photos |

Canyoneering throughout southern Utah, kayaking the Pacific northwest, mountain biking in the Canyonlands and hiking the San Rafael Swell in Utah.

These are only a handful of the 30-plus opportunities that Aspen High School offers students as part of its experiential-education program, better known as ex-ed.

While some courses set for the fall 2016 ex-ed program will look the same as in the past, the way the school is facilitating the program does not.

Aspen High School’s ex-ed committee will debut its 2016 program, including information about all of the course offerings, prices and scholarships, to students during a school-wide assembly Tuesday.

The ex-ed committee — which consists of a group of teachers from most of the high school’s academic departments, along with Aspen High School principal Tharyn Mulberry — will present the program to parents the following night.

The committee also plans to publicize the 2016 ex-ed schedule program on the school district website sometime next week, said Aspen High School science teacher and ex-ed committee chair Brent Maiolo.

In recent years, the school has sent ex-ed schedules out to families a few weeks prior to the ex-ed trip, Maiolo said.

“We’re really trying to get ahead of the game this year,” he said.

In addition to the stress of planning a 30-course program with 500 students in only a few weeks, Maiolo said another motive behind the earlier time frame is to give students more time and opportunity to connect with the other students in their course.

“Once kids sign up and are placed on their courses, they can meet and start creating those bonds,” Maiolo said. “We want our kids to establish that as soon as possible.”

Students should know their ex-ed assignments about mid-May, as the high school plans to hold its annual ex-ed lottery May 11 to 13.

This year’s lottery also will work differently than in recent years.

Instead of using a computer algorithm to randomly assign students to their ex-ed courses, the school will have students draw lottery tickets from a container.

Maiolo said the school’s revival of the old-fashioned lotto, which is how it operated before computers, is an effort to make its lottery system more transparent for students.

“There’s a lot of myth and misconception around the way lotto works,” he said. “That it isn’t real or that it’s biased or something like that.”

By drawing a tangible number in a social environment, Maiolo said he hopes to dispel these myths while also generating buzz around the high school’s 2016 ex-ed program.