Event aims to ‘showcase’ strengths of Aspen High | AspenTimes.com

Event aims to ‘showcase’ strengths of Aspen High

Aspen High School might have pushed capacity, but the Aspen Education Foundation wants families whose children attend the school — or might attend in the future — to recognize the reasons for its popularity.

"We've heard from new families and even established families — over and over again — that they didn't know about this program or that opportunity," said Brooke Bedingfield, executive director of the Aspen Education Foundation, the district's nonprofit fundraising arm, adding the idea was sparked after an AEF new-parents' meeting last year. "So we decided, as the organization that funds many of these unique offerings, to help spread the word."

Thus, AEF sent out invitations for the first-ever "Aspen High School Showcase" encouraging new and prospective AHS parents and students to attend the Tuesday event to "learn about the dynamic programs and opportunities at Aspen High School."

Bedingfield admits the message might have been misunderstood by some in the community as a recruitment effort. The current student population is 547 while capacity is 505, according to Aspen High School principal Tharyn Mulberry.

"The goal is to provide more in-depth information about the high school. It is not an attempt to try and increase the number of families coming in," she said. "We recognize some might have read this to be a recruitment event, but that is not at all the case.

"It is not our role to recruit. If that message got confused, it will be clarified on Tuesday."

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Still, families in the Aspen School District do have choices when it comes to educating their high schoolers. Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale is one option, as are boarding schools across the country.

"We just want these families, including those at Aspen Country Day and Aspen Community School, to know they don't have to look outside the district," Bedingfield said.

The upcoming showcase is one of several initiatives AEF plans to launch in the coming months to get more involved with the community, including a speaker series that will begin in November.

"Aspen Education Foundation is looking to get out there more, to see people in person, to be part of the school and greater Aspen community — to be a leader in the education arena," Bedingfield said. "I think it's important that we educate people on what we're providing and what we're funding."

According to Bedingfield, AEF gives between $400,000 and $700,00 per year to programs, positions and scholarships.

"Much of what we fund helps make Aspen High School so successful. … it's something we're proud of and want to share."

Mulberry shares the sentiment: "My hope for the future is that the AEF continue with their support of our signature college counseling and IB program and continue to support innovative initiatives like the school on the mountain — our program where we visit examplar schools to improve our current instructional practices," he said. "Our relationship and support from the AEF is essential if we are going to continue to be a top performing school in Colorado."

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com