Horizons at CA: 23 summers of empowerment

The summer of 2021 will be remembered as one of empowerment and hope for our Horizons students and families. For many of our students, it was the first time they had set foot in a classroom since March 2020 and interacted with people outside of their close-knit family circle.

During the first few days, many students were naturally feeling nervous and scared, especially our new students. But by the end of the first week, all of that anxiety had dissipated as everyone got into the rhythm of our jam-packed days. And, on our last day, after six incredible weeks, many of our students and staff were bemoaning that it had all gone so fast and were very sad that it was ending. This is a testament to the power of Horizons at CA, how much our students and families value this program, and our staff’s wholehearted commitment to our mission.

Thanks to CA!

We were very fortunate to have had the support of Colorado Academy to ensure that we had an in-person summer program. For the most part, we were able to implement a full-service program, much like we had done pre-pandemic. The only exception was that our field trip options were limited, and we did not do any overnight trips.

Aside from that, we had a strong academic program. We were able to go swimming, do our extensive Henning Health & Wellness program, collaborate with Lighthouse Writers Workshop to teach creative writing to our Third and Fourth Grade classes, go on a range of field trips, have a fantastic field day, and enjoy our highly entertaining Horizons at CA talent show! Lots of long-lasting memories were made.

Here is what one guardian said about their student’s experience:

“Thank you and all your staff for working with my great grandson his first week to get over his hurdle of not wanting to go to Horizons. He loves it there and is so excited that there will be get- togethers during the year. He seems more confident after this summer session and is very proud to be a Horizons student. All of you are much appreciated, and we look forward to the monthly get-togethers and next summer.”

Coming in 2021-2022

In terms of the 2021-2022 school year, we are hopeful that we will be able to reinstate our Super Saturdays, collaborate with the CA Horizons Club so that we can offer online and, perhaps, in-person tutoring, and keep our high school mentorship program going. We also have other exciting ideas lined up and are hopeful that we will get to interact more frequently with our students and families.

One very exciting development has been that with increased staffing—we have our AmeriCorps Vista member, Romelo Wilson, working with us for the full year and also our Academic Coordinator, Ruth Castillo—we have been able to pinpoint what types of academic support our students need, increase our communications ability, and enhance organizational systems, so that we are more efficient and responsive to our students and families.

My hope is that in the coming months, we will have “guest” blog posts from Ruth and Romelo, as well as other people from our Horizons community who will offer different perspectives on the important work that we are doing and how this program is profoundly impacting the lives of our students and their families.