Community School ready for facelift | AspenTimes.com

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Community School ready for facelift

Dear Editor:

The Aspen Community School is a public charter school of the Aspen School District offering equal and tuition-free access to the school’s high-quality education. The project-based curriculum at the Community School is built around four guiding principles: community, lifelong learning, responsibility and social justice.

Project-based learning explores a particular “subject” through a multitude of disciplines, revealing the connections between math, art, biology, music, history, geography, etc. Students are engaged in a mode of discovery wherein the primary teaching tool is the “aha” moment. Lessons learned in this manner are not soon forgotten. Among other rewards, at the Aspen Community School this approach delivers the following results:

Students in upper grades outperform state averages by:

• 24 percent in reading.

• 28 percent in math.

• 32 percent in writing.

Upper-grade students at the Community School help care for and shepherd younger ones, and lower-grade students emulate and learn from older ones – all of which over time engenders leadership qualities in both.

Community School students also interface significantly with the community by engaging in public-service programs such as the Family Resource Center, Empty Bowls and the annual Spring Musical at the Wheeler Opera House. The Community School might be a small school, but its students have a significant impact on the wider world. The results are self-possessed young people imbued with community awareness – the cornerstone of tomorrow’s successful leaders.

However, after 40 years of service, the school’s facilities – built around the concept that small class size leads to greater learning opportunities – no longer provide a safe and healthy environment. The existing campus was built for 80 students; today, it serves 127 students and 18 teachers. Out of nearly 1,700 public schools, the Colorado Facilities Index ranks the Community School in the bottom 1 percent.

These conditions are unacceptable. It is time for our community to step up.

The Aspen Community School is currently engaged in a capital campaign to build new campus facilities. In order to meet Colorado BEST grant matching requirements, the school needs your support before May 1. For more information, visit http://www.ibelieveacs.org. Please donate whatever you can.

To invest in the future of our kids is to invest in the future of this community. After all, it is the toddlers of today who will be filling your teeth tomorrow.

Gregory Pickrell

Board member, Compass