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Escape the Ordinary and Journey to the Extraordinary with Escape 970

Poudre High School is home to many different offerings. Whether it be a range of clubs, multiple state-level sports teams, or even the massively diverse range of classes, Poudre High School has something for just about everyone. Many of these clubs and classes are specific to the six different pathways at Poudre. The Agriculture Pathway has Future Farmers of America. Arts and Humanities is home to both the Music Program and PHS Theatre. Engineering and Design has 159 Alpine Robotics as well as Futures Lab. Health Services and Sciences provides the Certificate of Civic Education. International Baccalaureate offers the IB Diploma Program for High School Graduates. Finally, Entrepreneurship has Escape 970. You may be asking, "What is Escape 970?" This article will explore one of the more unique classes at Poudre High School.

To start, a bit of background information regarding Escape 970. The club was started in 2019 by Mr. Johner, one of the business teachers here at Poudre. His goal was to create an opportunity for students interested in business and entrepreneurship to run a business themselves. Caio Lindell-Caminada, a member of Escape 970 and current senior at PHS, had this to say.

"It's a way for students to run and operate a business that's funded by the school."

People who are interested in this club can take Ethical Leadership, the class led by Mr. Johner, who is also responsible for creating Escape 970. In this class, students work together to run the escape room. When designing a new room students work individually or with a small group to develop new ideas for the rooms. One of these students is Sigrun Crocker, who had this to say about her experience working on the escape rooms.

“So it's a class actually, it's called ethical leadership and basically we make these rooms, and by getting ten dollars off of each person that comes in we get more money to make the next escape room.”

Toward the end of the first quarter, each group presents their ideas. The development of the current, as well as any and all future rooms, is almost completely student-led. Students work in teams or individually to brainstorm ideas for potential new escape rooms. They design everything from the theming all the way down to certain individual puzzles.

“Each person can either decide if they want to do it alone or in a group then you have to come up with an idea for a puzzle for that room and you have to think of the whole theme of the room too, and just all around what you want to do for the room.” as said by Sigrun.

As the quarter comes to a close, each group then presents their idea to the entire class. Once all of the ideas have been presented, the class then votes on the best. Whichever idea is most popular then becomes the next room, where the class then takes the rest of the semester to fully design the room to start building in January.

Two of the original successful ideas were the pirate ship and bank robbery rooms. Each of these operated for around a year, with multiple different groups and other clubs partaking. As is the usual standard practice, groups have one hour to solve all puzzles and complete the objective specific to the room. After the original rooms had run their course, the team began working on two entirely new themes.

As mentioned to us by Sigrun, the construction of new rooms is funded by participants of current experiences. Each group is charged ten dollars per person, which is very reasonable considering how expensive other local escape rooms are. The cheapest public escape room in Fort Collins can be found at Fort Fun. Both of their escape rooms cost twenty dollars per person, which is double what Escape 970 charges. Escape 970 is also very generous in offering discounts. The club is willing to offer many price discounts for other Poudre clubs and teams. As long as your group is Poudre High School organized, you qualify for the discount.

There are two current escape rooms. The first is themed after a temple, similarly to Indiana Jones, titled The Lost Tomb. Each of the rooms has an attached story to further engage the audience, allowing them further connection and the chance to get excited to do the room. For The Lost Tomb, the story is as follows.

“You and your team of explorers will have one hour to make their way through an ancient tomb where they are looking for an ancient idol. If they can't find the idol they will be unable to escape the room, you will be stuck in the tomb forever.”

The Lost Tomb is filled with riddles, hidden objects, mazes, ciphers, and other unique puzzles that unlock boxes, chests, and even entire other rooms. The difficulty rating is set at 4 out of 5 stars, which thus makes The Lost Tomb the harder one of the two. Obviously, we will leave out any specifics, answers, numbers, or clues for The Lost Tomb in order to prevent spoilers.

The other room, which replaced the pirate ship and/or bank heist, is called Space Invasion. On the Escape 970 Website, which can be found here, the room is described as follows.

"In this room, you and your crew's ship have been attacked by aliens, damaging your ship's oxygen. After your captain took the only escape pod, you and your team only have one hour to repair your oxygen before you all die. Work together to solve clues, complete puzzles, and recover your space equipment in this nearly pitch-black room."

Space Invasion features several different technological-themed puzzles, like computer files, invisible ink, mazes, hidden keys, riddles, magnets, and hidden objects. With a difficulty rating of three out of five stars, Space Invasion provides a semi-challenging experience that all different people and age groups can enjoy. Our group was unfortunately unable to complete Space Invasion in addition to The Lost Tomb. However, based on our previous experience with The Lost Tomb, we can wholeheartedly recommend Space Invasion as well. This room is still operating to this day, but for a limited time only. If you would still like to experience Space Invasion, book your room before winter break. To do so, visit the Escape 970 website, which can once again be found here.

To anyone planning on attempting either Space Invasion or The Lost Tomb, here are the current records. For The Lost Tomb, the record sits at just under fifty five minutes. Interestingly, our group was the first team to successfully complete the room, meaning this record belongs to The Poudre Press. It is entirely possible that another group has since beaten our record, as this time was completed back on October 4th. The Space Invasion room has a record of 35 minutes and 48 seconds. Given that each of these two escape rooms are designed to take around sixty minutes, the time of just under 36 minutes is very impressive.

Unfortunately, the Space Invasion escape room will only be around for a little while longer. The room is planned to be taken down for the construction of a new room by the end of the semester. Sadly, we don’t have any insight on what the new escape room will be. Our interviews took place just before they were going to decide what the new escape room was going to be.

When asked about which of the two current rooms was preferred, both our interviewees and other members had a definitive answer. "I like this one (The Lost Temple) more since the other room (Space Invasion) isn't as well decorated, so this one definitely feels more like an escape room." They also mentioned that Space Invasion was a lot darker than The Lost Temple, as another reason they liked The Lost Temple. Their opinion was also shared by other groups who completed the rooms. Another person who completed the room, Jenna Monroe, had this to say. "It was really cool to see how many different elements they were able to incorporate into such a small space." Between the people who actually designed and constructed each of the two rooms and someone who actually completed it, The Lost Temple seems to be the clear favorite.

Poudre High School is home to a wide variety of offerings. Whether it be Alpine Robotics or Future Farmers of America, there are seemingly endless opportunities and just about something for everyone. One of these opportunities is Escape 970, a fun and challenging escape from everyday mundane life that highlights the creativity and ingenuity of high school students interested in pursuing a career in business.

On an ending note, a special thanks goes out to Caio Lindell-Caminada and Sigrun Crocker for running The Lost Tomb for us and allowing us to interview them, and finally a big thanks to Mr. Johner for setting up this whole program and helping us set up a time to complete the room.



Interviews conducted by Austin Eide and Owen Dustin of The Poudre Press

Interviewees were Sigrun Crocker and Caio Lindell-Caminada

Johner, Jeremy. “Escape 970.” ESCAPE 970, 2023.

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