Resolved: Let’s Go for 20 More…

New Year’s Resolutions: we tend to either embrace them or ignore them. After all, it’s hard to envision changing patterns that seem set in stone.

Unless, of course, you know Horizons at Colorado Academy, where for 20 years we’ve helped our students break barriers, thanks to some time-honored traditions and the willingness to think outside the box in the interest of learning.

As we strive to make the next 20 years as successful as the past two decades, in anticipation of 2017, we are

…will continue to celebrate the most marvelous 20 years a non-profit educational initiative could hope for: 20 years that have given over a thousand children a fresh start, but never left behind those students’ families or cultures or traditions or schools. Even the youngest trees have roots, and watering those roots is essential to growth, after all.

…will cherish and thank the best volunteers in Denver, seriously. Those CA parents who wish to “Get Involved” with Horizons will continue sharing their gifts as artists and fundraisers and writers and designers and entrepreneurs and experts in all manner of areas, most of all expert in caring about our students. We’ll continue to help our Upper School Horizons Club members gain exceptional learning experiences as they support our students, even sometimes re-imagining their own futures. From what we’ve seen, we’ve got some pretty terrific teachers and leaders among the Club participants. We’ll welcome others who share their time and talents, such as Horizons parents eager to give back to the program or speakers whose talent inspires our students.

…will continue to provide exemplary learning experiences both for our Horizons students and those with whom they interact. Based on the success of Community Impact Projects (CIP) that CA seniors accomplish, for instance, we know that they learn as much from our students as our students learn from and model them.

We know that our teachers and staff — 92% of whom returned to teach or work with Horizons last year — learn, too. As one said recently, “Until Horizons, I didn’t understand how much you can learn from a smile, a high-five, or even a hug — and I’m talking about what I learned from the first grader reaching out to me, much less anything I’d hoped to teach her!”

…will depend on a spectacular Advisory Board of local leaders, educators, and parents.

That Board gives guidance, extends countless energy to help us raise funds and friends, and annually ensures that our program has support whenever and wherever possible. We’ll also continue giving thanks for CA’s Board of Trustees, which supports Horizons and stays in close touch with our activities, thanks to the Trustees who also lead our Advisory Board.

…will continue recruiting, hiring, and retaining a staff of excellent educators committed to children and their learning, giving them the support they need to do a job with results that transform our community.

…will keep working with our Horizons students’ extremely dedicated and committed families, sharing insights about what their children learn through the program so that they can continue supporting those lessons at home.

…will continue our Horizons traditions, every once in while modifying them when the time is right but always holding tight the concepts that bind Horizons heritage. Sometimes we may have an occasional different approach to a celebration, such as in 2017 when we’ve put our annual Wine and Dine on hold — just for a year, so that we can celebrate together with CA and benefit from the awesome auction you can read about in this edition of On CAmpus.

Wine and Dine will return: rest assured that next year will find us thanking our lucky stars for the CA-family restaurants and vendors who have made one of CA’s most popular events into a fundraiser like no other. After all, where else can you find a Horizons graduate whose words keep over 300 guests in our Dining Hall rapt, silent, and ultimately in tears and cheers as they respond by donating generously to the program.

…will, most of all and most importantly, live our mission of supporting children whose economic needs may be profound but whose potential is unlimited. We’ll continue #6weeks of happiness that include two nutritious meals daily along with healthy activities including swimming. We’ll give students opportunities to problem-solve, through which they’ll tackle concepts in traditional academic subjects and learn to integrate knowledge and real life scenarios. Our learners will use technology that overcomes any ‘digital divide’ possibly impacting them. As they grow, our students will keep enjoying field trips near and far, depending on whether they’re in Pre-K or high school. Over their 14 years in Horizons, each child will experience everything from paddle boarding to hands-on science experiments to fly-fishing to s’mores as a community proud of its accomplishments. They’ll also participate in Super Saturdays, learning math or science or art even while dressed up as the SuperHeroes and SuperHeroines they are at Halloween, for instance. Our fifth graders can take skiing trips and know the thrill of conquering slopes. And speaking of slopes, our students will rest certain that we’ll support them in climbing, rather than falling. They won’t experience a downward ‘summer slide’: the loss of learning over the summer, which typically impacts children with significant economic challenges. As our learners know, instead of losing two to three months of learning each summer, our Horizons students gain at least two to three months of skills — all on their road to success.

Perhaps to those who don’t know Horizons (yet), they seem a little daunting, maybe even unrealistic. For those of us who’ve seen the past 20 years create a sea change for Denver’s students, however, these goals are more than attainable. Achieving these resolutions may not be a walk in the park, but they represent a journey we’re resolved to keep taking with Horizons, one step and one student at a time, with a destination of success for all.