Experiential Education for everyone at Aspen High School | AspenTimes.com

Experiential Education for everyone at Aspen High School

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – In April, some Aspen High School students will backpack from San Francisco to Point Reyes, others will go on a tour of Colorado colleges, some will spend a week in Harlem and the Bronx, and a few will fly fish our local rivers.

But each of these Experiential Education courses come with a price tag – $700, $375, $725 and $200, respectively.

“ExEd is an amazing program; it offers our students so many great opportunities,” said AHS Principal Art Abelmann. “But it’s not perfect, because frankly, it’s expensive and some families just can’t afford for their children to participate the way they want to.”

In fact, the average price of an AHS ExEd course is more than $400, with the most expensive costing upward of $700 and the least expensive costing $150.

But all AHS students are required to participate in at least one ExEd program during their four-year course of studies.

“Since we require all kids to participate, we need be sure that all kids can participate,” said Abelmann. “Ideally, we want all kids to be able to participate in the ExEd program they really want to do, not just the least expensive because that’s what they can afford.”

Recognizing this fact, Aspen High has made a concerted effort to up its ability to help students through scholarships – and it’s paying off.

According to a recent Aspen High newsletter, 70 students received $16,000 in scholarships in 2010. To date this year, $27,000 has been given out to more than 75 students.

“Not one kid who has asked has been denied a scholarship, which is great,” said teacher and ExEd scholarship committee chairman Andy Popinchalk.

Abelmann is pleased with this fact, and said he is committed to expanding the reach of the scholarship program.

For example, proceeds from a recent lunch and Naucet Ball tournament during last week’s Snowfest (formerly called Ski Day) will go toward ExEd scholarships. Funds are also raised from the annual Ski Swap in the fall and private donations.

“My goal is to keep ExEd a cornerstone of the AHS curriculum, but also to be sure it is a program that works for all of our students,” Abelmann said.