Marolt: Aspen Education is our Foundation for hope
Everybody knows we raise smart kids in Aspen. Great teachers, incredible facilities, involved, highly educated parents, affluence; if our kids didn’t ring the school bell curve by swinging it from the right tail, we’d have plenty to be embarrassed about. Fortunately, we haven’t had to wear the dunce cap for not paying attention to this.
So adept are our kids at not only reading, writing and arithmetic but also history, science, physics, art, etc., that my main concern is far from ACT scores and college acceptances. My hope is that we are producing good, compassionate and wise people.
Here’s the thing, and I’ve thought about this many times: What good does education do if we do nothing with it except for ourselves? That’s somewhat of a rhetorical question, because you and I both know darn well what that can get you — maybe a great big house on Red Mountain and a private jet to get you to town, if you play your cards right, and maybe keep a couple up your sleeve, just in case. But, and I know this sounds as trite as it is true, I don’t think a situation like that gets anyone very far up the satisfaction scale if they take a hard look at the world.
I’m here and six billion people are there. There is far more suffering going on in the world than we have close to enough resources to stem. It is a hopeless situation except for the grace of God. I am convinced that human suffering in this life is as permanent as the force of gravity. I don’t think that’s pessimistic. I believe it is realistic, and reality is a good place to launch action from.
Far from giving up, we need to give more. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t believe it’s as important how much we give as it is how we give it. People who are hungry, sick, lonesome and in trouble need to know that somebody cares about them as much they need meals, medicine or a warm coat. They need to be recognized. They need to feel loved. We know rich people can’t take it with them. We forget that neither can the poor. The only truly durable thing we can give anyone is love.
This community does an incredible job of providing a wide world view through our schools that results in our kids recognizing the enormity and complexity of the planet and its problems. We are teaching our kids to be compassionate while giving them the tools to make a positive difference in the places they end up and for the vast number of people they will interact with.
Some of the nontraditional learning resources we provide to this end are our student counseling, aeronautics, robotics and outdoor education programs. Our counseling program sees as far beyond getting kids into college as the Hubble Telescope sees beyond the man in the moon. By encouraging service to others they teach kids that grades are but the roadbed for the superhighway to doing great, useful things.
By their nature, aeronautics and robotics aim to have great impact on the masses; to produce things efficiently and to make the effective distance between “us” and “them” shorter.
Our outdoor education and experiential education programs expose our kids to places and situations many may never otherwise know, with the ambition of gaining knowledge, confidence and humility in equal measure.
My experience with this as a local student many years ago and a parent today forms the basis for my firm belief that we need to support these efforts in our schools so as to continuing giving our kids encouragement and opportunity to become good people.
Unfortunately, none of these extras in education are priorities of our state. Colorado is behind the curve in funding just the basics. What we have here is what we have created here, funded generously from outside the cash-strapped system. So, let’s tie this in with giving and leveraging those gifts to try to make the world a better place.
The Aspen Education Foundation is a vehicle designed to drive these programs to the finish with our kids in the front seats. Every dollar we give to the Aspen Education Foundation positively affects hundreds of kids who will use what they’ve experienced to help countless more people throughout the rest of their lives — a few dollars in, immense awareness and caring out. We give money now so our kids can give of themselves for decades to come. You can’t love more than that.
Roger Marolt hopes you will support the Aspen Education Foundation by attending its annual gala tonight at the St. Regis ballroom at 6 p.m. If you can’t attend, please give generously — P.O. Box 2200, Aspen, CO 81612; 970-925-3760 ext. 2260.
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