Senior leaders bond at 10,000 feet

Over the mid-summer weekend of August 9-11, 23 eager soon-to-be Colorado Academy Seniors went to the High Mountain Institute in Leadville to take part in a leadership retreat. Thus began this year’s version of the Community Leadership Team, or CLT for short. This annual excursion provides an amazing training opportunity for the students, as they spend 48 hours together at an elevation of 10,000 feet working with multiple adults, including our CLT faculty advisors Liza Skipwith, Steven Hammer, Meg Hill, Peter Horsch, and Gabe Bernstein.

During the retreat weekend, these students learn quite a bit about leadership, group dynamics, and communication, but even more about themselves, both as individuals and as a group. Their primary role will be as supportive mentors for the Freshman class, with whom they will meet on a regular basis in advisories. They are seen by the younger students as role models, mentors, and friends; in short, they help make the Freshmen feel a sense of belonging and normalcy as they navigate the new dynamics of high school.

A stellar group

As the faculty worked with this stellar group of Seniors, all of the adults from CA and HMI were amazed at the level of maturity and empathy they exhibited. These young men and women have grown a lot since their days as unsure, slightly awkward Freshmen. While all of them have a track record of good citizenship, care for others, and eagerness to learn, their emotional intelligence as they enter Senior year is impressive.

At the retreat they were stretched intellectually and emotionally, and they responded incredibly well. Upper School counselor Liza Skipwith noted, “This group of Seniors did not waste any time learning more about each other and developing a tight bond. After the first day of the retreat, the Seniors put the tables together at HMI to eat every meal together, and they even got up early one morning to all watch the sunrise together. They were very open, reflective, empathetic, and supportive of each other throughout the entire weekend.” The school community will benefit from their collaboration and leadership this year.

A signature program

Now in its thirteenth full year, CLT continues to be a signature program for the school. When Liza Skipwith and I started CLT back in 2007, we had both enjoyed positive experiences with this kind of peer support program in our previous schools. But I dare say the version that we have now at CA is even better and stronger. The momentum that has developed over the years helps the program build on itself, and the students’ positive experiences as Freshmen translate into their desire to “give back” when they become Seniors. As students mature in high school, they look towards the time they can be the inspirational, wise, and cool Senior they got to know when they were in Ninth Grade.

I have always said that Seniors set the tone for the entire Upper School student body. Based on what everyone saw from this new group in Leadville, we are off to a great start in this regard.