Shining Light: A View of Horizons at Colorado Academy

December at Colorado Academy offers many seasonal traditions, opportunities for CA families to gather, and the chance to greet the prior year’s graduates fresh from a first semester or the first months of a gap year. For many, December also offers a time of light, whether burdens are lightened due to time ‘off’ or whether one lights holiday lights or candles as part of a traditional celebration.

For Horizons at Colorado Academy, too, December is full of light — no surprise when one considers the many bright moments the Program celebrates throughout the year.

For instance, annually Horizons students and their families are honored at a Holiday Dinner that brings them together to celebrate the season. Each year, participants anticipate a beautiful evening of song, delicious food, and special camaraderie, and 2016 will be no exception. Younger Horizons students will join CA’s Jazz Band and members of the CA choir in sharing holiday songs; CA Food Service Manager Paul Worley and his team will prepare a dinner to enjoy and remember; and families will greet one another as part of a community bonded through their children and a program committed to their success.

This year, those families will have one additional point in common. They’ll have seen a video that shines exceptional light — literally and figuratively — on Horizons at CA. Simply titled Horizons at CA, the video also highlights the ways the Colorado Academy community is both transformed by and at once contributes to transforming the Horizons Program, a transformation that’s enlightening beyond words.

Debuting in honor of Horizons’ 20th year at Colorado Academy, in just under 10 minutes, the video spotlights all aspects of the Program’s mission along with its goals, objectives, and outcomes. Yet, the brief film goes beyond providing examples of student and programmatic success. In telling the Horizons story, the piece focuses on the Program’s ‘faces’ and ‘facets,’ and the results shine brilliantly.

Produced by Emmy-award winning journalist Vicki Hildner and in coordination with CA’s Communication Director, also an Emmy-award winning journalist, Renee Rockford, Horizons at CA showcases the Program’s history, including its national origins as the first affiliate founded west of the Mississippi. Interviews contextualize the Program’s past, present, and future, including Dr. Mike Davis’s words conveying the benefits of having Horizons at CA — and having CA as part of Horizons: “We all learn from one another, and we all help one another, and I think that’s a very special thing about this Program.”

That reciprocal help and learning crystallize as viewers hear from CA students Claire Greydanus and Eliza Davis. As leaders of the Upper School Horizons Club, they interact with students during the academic year’s Super Saturdays and at check-ins at Knapp Elementary, home school for many Horizons participants. In the summer, Greydanus and Davis work for Horizons as well, providing stability for many Horizons students and finding great benefits from being with those students, too. Similarly, Kim Frantz, parent of CA alumnus and fellow Horizons intern Albert Frantz ’16, addresses the hope she sees in her Pre-K participants. Likewise, the hope that the children see in themselves shines through as they participate in class, their eyes bright with pride and determination. It’s easy to see why Horizons National has honored Frantz with the prestigious Lyn McNaught Award, national recognition of her teaching excellence.

Those who know CA will recognize other familiar faces as well, reiterating the ways that Colorado Academy becomes a part of Horizons students’ lives and thus a part of their “Horizons family.” They’ll see and hear, for instance, Jennifer Arnold accompany students as they study music in the Schotters Music Building.

They’ll recognize Thanh Luong leading rocket launches with Horizons middle schoolers in Stamper Commons. They’ll remember alumni like Matt Dickman ’05, who’s returned to support Horizons year after year, during and after his time at CA. Looking closely, they’ll recognize Welborn House as the backdrop for Loida Luna’s graduation picture (’16). Like her brother Nehemias (’10), Loida graduated from both the Horizons program and CA. She’s currently a first-year student at Pennsylvania’s Franklin and Marshall University, while Nehemias, the first in his family to graduate from college, also graduated from Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business (’14) as a Daniels Scholar. Now working at Texas Instruments, Nehemias also serves on the Horizons at San Francisco Friends School’s Board of Directors.

The relationships threaded throughout Horizons, especially in connection to Colorado Academy, truly enlighten audiences as to what mutual respect and regard can do during #sixweeksofhappiness each summer.

For instance, viewers will see the ways that CA’s Dining Hall provides nutritious meals for children who experience food insecurity given their household’s challenges, providing breakfast and lunch when schools are out of session. They’ll relish watching the children swim, play, laugh, and learn in CA’s swimming pool, especially poignant given devastating drowning rates among low-income families and the difference exposure to swimming pools and safe instruction can make in reducing fatalities.

Viewers will recognize Horizons participants who, like the Lunas, attend Colorado Academy. They’ll witness a mom’s clear joy about her son’s ability to be a Horizons student: like so many parents — especially those at CA — she explains her eagerness to do “whatever it takes” so that her child can access the life-changing experiences Horizons provides.

Finally, Horizons at CA illuminates a fact almost transparent to those who call CA “home.” Whether Program participants are five or 15 years old, Colorado Academy’s campus represents possibilities and trajectories ranging from physics experiments to popsicles at the end of each summer day. CA’s 94 acres provide a safe place to learn, to take risks, and to relish interacting with old friends and with those new to the program. Colorado Academy, finally, stands as a place where Horizons participants thrive, feeling comfortable with new experiences, confident with learning new ideas and skills, and capable of achieving their potential thanks to the support of faculty, staff, volunteers, all part of a campus that cares.

CA is also a campus that provides a singular light, whether the lights of Welborn beckoning, as those present at last year’s May groundbreaking have heard, or the perpetual light of learning burning brilliantly. Such light is metaphoric, of course, but in frame after frame and image after image, a viewer can see its spirit reflected. In fact, looking ahead to a 2017 of bright possibilities, the video celebrating two decades of Horizons at CA offers the perfect lens to reflect on a program that, as Tenth Grade participant Xio Haataja notes, “is a big family.”

It’s a family of which Colorado Academy is abundantly proud to be a part. To see the 2016 video celebrating Horizons at CA, please go to http://thndr.me/L4qksa.

To learn more about supporting Horizons, please contact Dr. Virginia Broaddus, Interim Chief Development Officer for Horizons at CA, Virginia.Broaddus@coloradoacademy.org or at 303.986.1501, ext. 2675. As you plan your year-end giving, please note that donations to Horizons qualify for the Colorado Child Care Tax Credit.