Outdoor Education Returns to Ouray High School

Jimmy has taken some wonderful photos

of students outdoors... find an album here.


by Luna Sandoval


Among several new electives, an outdoor education program, a chance for students to get out and experience the great outdoors of Colorado, was reintroduced to the Ouray High School this fall. The course is “an institution that [former science teacher] Eric Fagrelius created around 15 years ago,” said outdoor education teacher Jimmy Chiang.


After Mr. F.’s retirement, the class was unavailable for several years, and several students worked hard to bring it - and other electives - back to the high school. “There had been a discussion of the absent electives within the high school, and outdoor education was the most talked about,” said junior Pallen McArdle.  


The Ouray High School Honor Society sent out a survey about what electives students would be interested in. The results of the survey determined the elements of the job posting which eventually resulted in the hiring of Mr. Chiang. 


“We were hoping to narrow down the possible new electives we offered to 3, but came up with 6 new electives,” said superintendent Tod Lokey. The survey’s highest-ranked courses were introduced to the high school this year, including woodshop, drama, creative writing, anthropology, first responder, and the most suggested, outdoor education. (Mr. Chiang is also teaching woodshop.)


The return of outdoor ed. has created a great deal of excitement within the high school where students can chat about their daily adventures. “Before, it was more of core class learning within the high school which not a lot of students were very psyched about,” said Pallen. “With more electives you can choose what you want to learn and that makes students more engaged.”


Mr. Chiang is back after a 3 year sabbatical. He taught at OHS in 2017-18, and then accompanied his wife on her medical residency in Alaska. He taught there and in Saguache CO while he hoped to find his way back to Ouray. “There is an element of intention in life, and there is also a component of serendipity and sometimes things choose you,” he said.


Mr. Chiang feels like he is helping Ouray School to be the way it should be, and that outdoor education is a part of that. “I’m just bringing it back,” he said.


For photos of students enjoying outdoor education, check out the album!