Art Abelmann: The many lessons of high school | AspenTimes.com

Art Abelmann: The many lessons of high school

Art Abelmann
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Summer brings a well-deserved change of daily routine for everyone who is school-involved. Students, teachers, parents – all have worked hard. The successful completion of a senior year leading to graduation, or the final phases of the freshman year resulting in moving up the high school social ladder, and each step in between all deserve praise and recognition. High school is not easy; no one ever said it would be. That being said, a great deal of individual accomplishment and growth takes place over the course of a school year and this is worth mentioning.

Students arrive at high school in one form, that of an adolescent sponge ready to soak up the next four years of experience and exposure. By the end of the four-year experience, they leave as a graduate taking on a whole new form – mostly college-bound and bordering on legal and social adulthood. One does not get through high school and attain a diploma. A high school experience is calculated and charted out with goals and objectives and the experience earns one a diploma. It is not simply given out.

The ideal behind earning something, as opposed to simply feeling you are entitled to receive or get something, is important. Choosing one’s course of study, taking classes as a means to an end, and studying to achieve and succeed are all part of earning a diploma. The excessive academic prowess that schools show through award ceremonies, scholarship nights and individual recognition of student success are all examples. Equally important is the recognition of outstanding teachers through awards and appreciation of their commitment to helping students earn their way through high school.

So congratulations to those award-winning faculty members. Be it yearbook dedications, teacher of the year awards, or outstanding and distinguished teachers as recognized by their peers, these teachers are the role models for earning recognition, not being entitled to it. The students, on the other hand, have experienced what it is to earn their high school degree, rather than to simply receive it.

The lesson stays with students forever and is worth repeating, as each year a new group of high schoolers enter the building to embark on their own four-year journey. Guided by the role models and mentorship of highly qualified teachers, what nobody ever said would be easy, is still filled with countless joyous moments of success, accomplishment, reward for effort, and recognition for outstanding achievement.

Interestingly enough, the lesson of earning one’s way has been modeled at Aspen High School this past week. School is out for summer, and yet 120 students (now seniors) stuck around for two days of college admission workshops headed by Dr. Kathy Klug. Nothing was required of these kids and yet they decided to spend their first two sunny days of vacation gaining a better understanding of the process that awaits them. What struck a chord was that students, who a year from now will attend the full spectrum of schools, from local and state schools to some of the country’s most prestigious, sat together and soaked up the advice and support. Echoed was the lesson of earning their way into their college of choice.

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Congratulations to all for the year of success and, moreover, to those who already are planning for the what the future will bring.

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