Letter: More than sports | AspenTimes.com

Letter: More than sports

We are students of the Aspen School District. It has come to our attention that the academic achievements of many students have faded from the spotlight. We have noticed that the community’s attention is directed mostly toward athletic extracurricular activities. As students who participate in activities such as robotics, band, Model U.N. and aeronautics, we believe that these activities are both important and under-recognized.

Robotics and aeronautics teach engineering and life skills such as team work, problem solving and creative thinking. Robotics programs award more than $2 million in scholarship money annually. Colleges scout for high school students in FIRST Robotics programs and recognize the achievements made in the field internationally. Students who participated in Science, Technology, Engineering, Aeronautics and Math courses in high school are recruited for internships and jobs in some of the world’s most successful companies, including Apple, Microsoft and NASA.

The school aeronautics program, which is in need of funding to complete several projects, gives participants unparalleled access to colleges and jobs. Students can graduate high school having earned their commercial pilot’s licenses. The Aspen AERO Build nonprofit organization is currently trying to raise money to give students an opportunity to build an airplane.

These programs also offer opportunities to grow academically and as a global citizen. Model U.N. allows students to learn about global problems and explore multiple solutions to these challenges. This year, the Aspen Middle School team representing Australia at Model U.N. won an award for their creative approach to problem solving.

At the Aspen School District this year, many other student achievements went unnoticed. The eighth-grade moon bots team (a subdivision of the robotics program) claimed their place as 25th in the world due to their creative ingenuity. Both sixth- and seventh-grade robotics teams advanced to the state-level competition. The high school robotics team advanced to the state competition and missed Super Regionals (the step below world competition) by one place. A current eighth-grade student qualified to compete in the national competition for her history project. She and her coach are in need of funding for the trip. This year, the music programs also received high marks. The seventh- and eighth-grade band earned a superior ranking at a music festival. The high school choir received a Division 1 ranking at competition.

All of these teams have put in time both during and after school and have received virtually no recognition for it. These academically important and rigorous programs have repeatedly been overshadowed by the numerous sports teams at the Aspen schools. These academic activities provide life opportunities and skills to all the students who participate as well as scholarship money and jobs.

It is our wish that these programs will be recognized and celebrated equally with the sports teams. Their achievements and importance to both current and future students should be acknowledged. Please help us in supporting and appreciating these programs and their participants.

Alex Coleman and Izzy Elder