Archive for November, 2014

Giving Thanks, Changing Lives

As our annual fundraising campaign, Colorado Gives Day, approaches its climax we wanted to give you a sense of the gratitude AVS families have expressed for the life-changing gifts they’ve received here.  After reading the following parent testimonials, please consider giving what you can and spreading the word so that more families might enjoy transformations like these. Schedule your donation today at this link and help us reach our goal of raising $22,750 for our Tuition Assistance Fund.

Sherry Cure

I am thankful to AVS for giving our daughters a place to grow in different and unexpected ways.

For example, during our first year here my youngest child—who up to this point had been carefree and left details to everyone else—decided she wanted to set up a field trip to a local pool. The night before the trip, she asked us to drive her there so she could make sure the details were taken care of (which was surprising in itself). When we got to the rec center the staff said, “Don’t worry about it, your teacher will make sure it’s all set up.” My daughter said, “No, it’s my field trip and I need to make sure everything’s arranged.” Since she was only 9 the staff was surprised to hear this, and it gave her the opportunity to talk about her school. And her field trip went off without a hitch. This was our first real glimpse of how AVS was helping her grow up into a more responsible person, and we were thrilled.

Our older daughter had always been the super-responsible kid—almost too much so, and keeping her opinions to herself. Through being part of AVS she has learned to speak out more, and she no longer blindly follows others’ opinions. She thinks about a situation, questions its validity, and makes her own decision. She is now comfortable speaking her mind. She has used this new ability to become active in the day-to-day processes of the school, especially the judicial system. We feel this confidence will serve her well in life, both during and after her school years.

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Kaye Kamon

So deep and wide does my gratitude for AVS run, it’s difficult to know where to begin. With that in mind, perhaps it’s best to start…in the beginning.

I can barely fathom the courage, vision, and determination that drove the founders of AVS to create and maintain this opportunity that would, 11 years later, literally be life-changing (and perhaps life-saving) for us. We never would have discovered AVS without the guidance of educational consultant Jeffrey Freed, who urged me to give the school a chance and provided a bridge of courage and open-mindedness until…

…I had an opportunity to observe and interact with the “results,” the living embodiments of an AVS education—the alumni and long-time students. These young adults seem so involved, and so open about their experiences at AVS. Many alumni continue to support and enjoy the school community years after they’ve left. Repeatedly I’ve heard them publicly express their gratitude for this extraordinary school, some of them even moved to tears as they did so.  

Thank you also to past and current parents who have inspired and supported me. We are making an unorthodox choice, many of us driven by damaging and limiting experiences within the conventional paradigm. Some have the insight before their children ever begin school that the system’s flawed, or that an environment of freedom and self-directed education will result in happier, more successful adults. I have felt much deeper connections to the parents at AVS than any of the other schools my son attended before.

Any expression of gratitude would be severely incomplete without thanking the staff. I hold them in the highest esteem and deeply appreciate their “labor of love,” their dedication to protecting the learning environment for the students, and the magnitude of the personal sacrifices they have made. I know they could be making substantially more money, and certainly have more job security, working elsewhere.  I mean, come on! These folks have their jobs on the line every May as School Meeting votes on next year’s contracts. Talk about a performance review!

Last but certainly not least, many thanks to the students. You know full well that you’ve been given a unique opportunity to take responsibility in creating your lives, expressing your passions, and following your own paths to become effective adults in the greater community. And you are all assets to that greater community already: I know this is true because you have most certainly touched my life in a positive way.

CGD 2014_Master(WORKING)

 

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This Week at AVS: 11/21/2014

Movie night at Alpine Valley School Movie night at AVS! DSCN1332 copy DSCN1259 copy An "Elf"-themed feast Ready to eat DSCN1328 copy DSCN1268 copy

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The Power of Play

We had our first snow of the season a few days ago, and even though the temperature was 22 degrees outside many of our students were running around, chasing each other and throwing snowballs. The morning started out at 65 degrees, so their outerwear was light and their cheeks and fingers were red and icy cold, but that didn’t even slow them down. There were brief breaks for food and to warm up, but snow play quickly resumed.

I stood at the window, watching younger and older students romp around the yard, and then I decided to join the fun. As I stepped outside, the wind blew snow in my face and whipped open my jacket. My hands and ears felt frozen, and my eyes were watering.  After a two-minute walk around the building I’d had enough and went back inside. What was a fun activity for the students was not for me, and I wondered why the cold and blowing snow not only didn’t bother them but actually added to their enjoyment and seeming determination to endure the freezing weather.

Perhaps their innate drive to have fun, to enjoy the moment at hand, helps children focus more on the play and less on any discomfort they might feel. Perhaps when they are totally present and absorbed in a playful activity, they have more tolerance for bothersome elements and, in fact, are learning to deal effectively with challenging situations. My curiosity about this led me to Google the topic of children playing in difficult environments. What I discovered has brought me a whole new appreciation for the power of play.

In a 2012 study , David Kuschner writes about the value of play. Even in the most extreme conditions, such as: slavery, the Holocaust, difficult urban environments, chronic illness, and war, children find a way to play. Not only that, their games often re-enact what they witness in their lives, and in the process help them cope with the horrors that surround them: play becomes a way to confront their reality, by making a story out of heartbreaking circumstances.

Kuschner concludes his report on a upbeat note: “But I also feel positive about the state of play today because history shows us that the life force of play is difficult to extinguish. I have faith that despite any current and future circumstances that might not be supportive of children’s play, children will find ways.”

While the children Kuschner studied contend with conditions far more horrific than a snowstorm, I have come to believe that play is essential in helping our children learn to be resilient and practice ways to deal with their life situations, whatever they may be. I hope we can learn from our children that the freedom to play offers far more than just enjoyment; it develops the skills and readiness necessary to handle reality with grace and courage.

As I glanced back out the window and watched our students fully engaged in the fun, I felt immense gratitude that Alpine Valley School is here for them and honors their right to play. If you would like more families to have this opportunity, please consider donating to our tuition assistance fundraiser at CO Gives.

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Malala’s Nobel Prize and the Question of Children’s Rights

Lack of respect for children is revealed in the language used by the Nobel Committee in their award of this year's Peace Prize. It's also revealed in the United Nation's Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

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Malala’s Nobel Prize and the Question of Children’s Rights

Lack of respect for children is revealed in the language used by the Nobel Committee in their award of this year's Peace Prize. It's also revealed in the United Nation's Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

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Malala’s Nobel Prize and the Question of Children’s Rights

Lack of respect for children is revealed in the language used by the Nobel Committee in their award of this year's Peace Prize. It's also revealed in the United Nation's Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

Comments off

Malala’s Nobel Prize and the Question of Children’s Rights

Lack of respect for children is revealed in the language used by the Nobel Committee in their award of this year's Peace Prize. It's also revealed in the United Nation's Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

Comments off

Malala’s Nobel Prize and the Question of Children’s Rights

Lack of respect for children is revealed in the language used by the Nobel Committee in their award of this year's Peace Prize. It's also revealed in the United Nation's Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

Comments off

Malala’s Nobel Prize and the Question of Children’s Rights

Lack of respect for children is revealed in the language used by the Nobel Committee in their award of this year's Peace Prize. It's also revealed in the United Nation's Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

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This Week at AVS 11/14/2013

DSCN1071 copy DSCN1107 copy DSCN1138 copy DSCN1146 copy DSCN1218 copy DSCN1195 copy DSCN1162 copy DSCN1039 copy DSCN1039 copy 3 Our Colorado Gives Day display, come and see our progress and make a donation of your own!

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