Art Abelmann: Shining Stars embody the ‘8 Conditions’
Recently I attended the closing ceremonies to The Shining Stars Foundation Winter Games. As several Aspen High School students volunteered during the week’s events, I was honored to be invited to support the volunteers and the “stars.” What I was not prepared for was the emotional impact the event would have on me. To see first-hand the strength, happiness and appreciation that each of the 60 children was able to share was indescribably moving. Despite their individual battles with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, each child spoke with pride, joy and hope for themselves and all of the friends they had made during the week’s events. Upon reflecting on the experience of the high school volunteers, the children who expressed themselves with such passion and all those who made the week such a success, I realized that we as educators have a lot we can learn from this group of brave and incredible youngsters. The most striking reflection for me was the happiness that exuded from each of the “stars.” Smiles and laughter filled the room more than anything else. So little and faced with such challenges, and yet not a sign of sadness or despair or victimhood or discontent. Just pure feelings of gratitude, appreciation and hope. How to harness such positive energy and share it beyond the volunteers … that was my wonder. For starters, Aspen High School will be available in any way possible to help the continued efforts of The Shining Stars Foundation. Additional volunteers, use of our facility, anything we can do to support the work of so many on behalf of these children, we will do. And then it came to me. My reflective realization. What was demonstrated that evening was a mirror of one of education’s greatest guidelines. What is known as the “8 Conditions That Make a Difference.” (Qualia Institute for Student Aspirations) The 8 Conditions That Make a Difference were certainly on display during the ceremonies of the evening’s events. Allow me to share them …BELONGINGHEROESSENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENTFUN & EXCITEMENTCURIOSITY & CREATIVITYSPIRIT OF ADVENTURELEADERSHIP & RESPONSIBILITYCONFIDENCE TO TAKE ACTIONAll of the “stars” that were shining so bright that night demonstrated each of the eight conditions. Coming to the winter games, an immediate feeling of belonging was extended to each participant. Heroes in the form of ski instructors, volunteers, nurses and doctors, friends and family gave positive support, guidance and encouragement allowing for confidence and personal growth. A sense of accomplishment was certainly felt by each “star” as they experienced success in overcoming fears and mastering the slopes. One did not need to look far to see the fun and excitement that helped this group feel so inspired and engaged in the winter games. Openness to trying new things, above and beyond what some ever thought they could do, characterizes the notion of curiosity & excitement. Spirit of adventure follows suit as well. Lastly, the leadership and responsibility that each “star” witnessed, participated in and learned from through decision making and input was prevalent as well.These eight conditions, so beautifully displayed that evening, simply reinforce how important they each are to making a difference in these children’s lives as well as the lives of our students in school. Aspen High School will be working towards accomplishing each of the 8 Conditions That Make a Difference as we move forward in our pursuits of helping The Shining Stars Foundation Winter Games in addition to helping every student reach their personal best everyday.
Art Abelmann is principal of Aspen High School. His column runs monthly in The Aspen Times.
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