The Six Cs of 21st Century skills—Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Cultural Competence, and Character Development—serve as a guiding principle in creating and sustaining the culture at Colorado Academy.
Interacting with peers across grade levels is a common phenomenon at many middle and high schools, and it certainly is at Colorado Academy. Students attend classes, play on athletic teams, work in performing groups, and participate in clubs and organizations with peers from other grades. Healthy middle and high schools see the value in multi-grade interactions, and that kind of interaction is strongly encouraged. What is unique and distinct about CA’s Lower School is that these multiage interactions are initiated and fostered as early as Pre-Kindergarten and continue through Fifth Grade.
Within the Lower School, there are two multi-age experiences created to foster Six C growth in our students as learners and leaders—Buddies and Mustang Mentors.
Buddies is a partnership developed between two classrooms of different grades to foster relationships on an ongoing basis. Buddies might work together on reading a book, completing an art activity, solving a math equation, researching a specific topic, or playing a game. The older buddy is trained to be the mentor and to support the younger buddy. Buddies typically meet three times a month during the school year, and as the year progresses, they bond and friendships flourish. The Buddies also attend Town Meetings together, which is a highlight for all students. Buddies allow students to develop powerful relationships creating connections that last through the years.
Each Fifth Grade student accepts the role of mentor in order to provide support to the overall mission of the Lower School. A mentor may serve in a variety of ways, including:
- An academic support for younger students
- A safety patrol member for morning drop-off and afternoon dismissal
- A champion on the environmental awareness team
- An assistant within a special area for younger student
Senior-Kindergarten Buddy Program
A favorite tradition at CA, the Senior-Kindergarten Buddy Program matches each Kindergarten student with several Seniors for the school year. Within the next few weeks, Kindergartners will meet their Senior buddies, and on that day it’s hard to tell which class is more excited. Throughout the year, they make trips to the library to read books, take an outing to the zoo, go to All-School Assemblies, and play games. One graduating Senior wrote, “This program provided memorable bookends to my 13 years at CA. It fosters a sense of unity through the divisions which makes CA feel like a family.”
Programs such as Buddies, Mustang Mentors, and the Senior-Kindergarten Buddy Program promote an overwhelming sense of community across every grade and age. They provide older students an opportunity to mentor younger students, and they allow students to get to know one another as people at a much deeper level. In CA’s quest to assist young children towards their full development, these multi-age relationships support the Six Cs and add to our culture of connectivity and collaboration.