Thriving through Transition

Alzar School | 07.05.21

As Heraclitus, and many others since, said: “the only constant is change.” Change ever ebbs and flows, as the rivers we travel and even the stone-faced mountains we gaze upon. Despite the ever-presence of change, the ability for it to sneak up on us is also reliable; it feels hard to believe that graduation is only three weeks away! 

The desert sun shines upon a group of students as they enter the new stage of their journey through the Owyhee Canyonlands.

The feeling of evolution is upon us at Alzar School this week. Students are preparing and sitting for their AP exams, as well as working through the final units in their classes. Final exams are on the horizon, in addition to Demonstrations of Learning (DOLs) and Culminating Leadership Projects (CLPs). Here is a list of compelling CLP titles:

Emendation Agriculture

Everyone Rides

751 Run: Kids’ Weekend Running Club

Jazz for Joy

Lacrosse the Nations

Sole Mates

More Meaning

Winter Harbor Summer Fun Run

Fly Day on the Ruby

Young Creatives Funding Board

Transitions can be stress-inducing for many, and yet are powerful times for healing and development. In his book Transitions (1980, 2004), Professor William Bridges mapped out stages of change, describing that every transition begins with an ending and ends with a beginning. Navigating the neutral zones in-between is essential for personal growth. Others have described this process as managing emotions associated with loss, chaos, and new beginnings, thriving through which requires intentional pause and reflection.

To help manage the potential for stress associated with punctuating one chapter and moving on to the next, here are a few tips applicable to Alzar School students as the semester winds down:

  • Get good sleep – neurobiological studies clearly show that we remember more when we provide our brain with the opportunity to rest after bouts of learning.
  • Adequate nutrition & hydration.
  • Some anxiety is okay – low levels of anxiety before a test can signal. motivation to do your best, but if anxiety becomes unmanageable it can be problematic
  • Breathe – Sit up straight. Inhale for 7 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds. Repeat.
  • Study skills – be intentional with your approach to studying and seek assistance if you need support with creating an effective study plan.
  • Practice a personalized test-taking routine.
  • Exercise – it reduces stress hormones and increases endorphins.
  • Relaxing music – although there is little scientific evidence (Pubmed, 2018; Research Gate, 2018), sound therapy is an ancient tool that is gaining more popular recognition, specifically the ability for music with a frequency of 528 Hz to achieve stress-reducing effects.  
  • Positive mental attitude – when you become aware of emerging negative thought patterns, try to (non-judgmentally) re-think that thought with a positive spin to avoid a spiral of negative self-talk.
Proudly climbing over obstacles at the finale of Painted Canyon during expedition in Owyhee Canyonlands.


This week, students will learn strategies and reflect upon the transference of skills, routines, and leadership styles they have applied at Alzar School to their lives at home and their futures. You can support your student by checking in to see what strategies they are using to manage stress, as well as asking them to share their reflections about how they can integrate components of their Alzar School experience into life at home. Some questions to consider are:

  • What is a goal you have for your remaining time at Alzar School?
  • Describe your proudest moment during your time at Alzar School so far. 
  • Reflecting on the skills and mindsets you have gained at Alzar School, how might you apply these at home / in your future?
  • How are you feeling about your return home? What are you most looking forward to?

As we transition this spring, let us use our remaining time together preparing to step into the fresh newness to come, uplifting one another through the chaos and keeping eyes towards the horizon; for amid the stress of finals, DOLs and CLPs reside opportunities for discovery, to thrive and blossom as desert wildflowers. 

Paintbrush Flowers on the Oregon Desert Trail