As a school that prides itself on community and experiential learning, the 2020/21 school year has been quite the learning curve for Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS).
“There are more restrictions because of covid precautions,” Julie Wiley, Assistant Director of Admissions at CRMS said. “Our boarding students are required to stay on campus and not leave independently on the weekends, and our day students are more restricted to coming on campus during certain times. We are just wanting to be really vigilant about the spread of covid.”
Accordingly, CRMS has made the difficult but necessary decision to greatly reduce gatherings; from off-campus mountain bike expeditions to all-school gatherings, students are now participating in town rides and meetings hosted by Zoom.
Fortunately, students are still able to connect in-person with their small advisory groups. Wiley is the proud advisor of seven sophomore girls at CRMS.
In a recent advisory meeting, Wiley sat down with her advisory group and asked them to write down what was charging their batteries, and what was draining their batteries.
“We went around the table and talked about it, and I think one of things everyone felt was that they lacked connection,” Wiley said.
The group brainstormed ways to recharge their batteries before someone suggested an off-campus bike ride for lunch. The girls unanimously agreed, and that weekend they set out for a rainy, and yet liberating, bike ride to Wiley’s residence for brunch.
Spread out around Wiley’s back porch, the girls were able to set their worries aside for the moment and enjoy a blissful morning together.
As the brunch drew to a close, the girls instantly started asking when they could gather again, so when Wiley suggested a volunteer opportunity the girls took the idea and ran with it.
Since volunteering in person was not an option, the group collectively came up with the idea to do an on-campus fundraiser that would benefit the local, nonprofit organization Advocate Safehouse Project (ASP).
ASP is the only nonprofit in Garfield County that provides bilingual services (e.g., shelter, food, and financial advice) to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the county. Additionally, ASP provides a 24-hour crisis hotline and emergency shelter for survivors in crisis.
“With COVID, so many people are at home right and the resources that ASP provides to women and children of domestic abuse and sexual assault are greater than ever,” Wiley said. “The girls thought that was a really wonderful cause because it did relate to a really timely need here in our area.”
After some quick thinking, the girls came up with the idea to sell Candy Cane Grams (CCG) – a hand-delivered, personalized note attached to a candy cane. Over the course of two lunch periods, amidst end-of-term tests and a long break looming, the girls gathered all the notes, attached them to candy canes, and delivered them to the recipient’s mailboxes just in time to send students, faculty, and staff a moment of joy.
For Wiley, the CCG was a win-win situation. At $1 apiece, they raised $350 for ASP and successfully helped build more community by spreading campus-wide cheer.
And the cherry on top? The girls were able to recharge their batteries by spending more time with each other.
“It’s always really nice to do something that benefits other people, and we grew really close doing this,” Willa Berry, a student in Wiley’s group said. “When we were handing out the candy cane grams it was fun and a really nice bonding experience.”
Berry, like her fellow classmates, is no stranger to humanitarian work. This past semester she participated in a work crew group that apprenticed with different equine therapy programs in the area. She also hopes to go to med-school.
Reflecting upon the work she did with her classmates, Berry believes it is absolutely possible for younger students to make a big difference.
“Take advantage of every moment that you are given to help people out, or to do something better for the community or environment,” Berry said. “Because at the end you’re not only helping other people, but it feels nice to be able to help people and know you’re making a change.”
Visit advocatesafehouseproject.org to learn more about how you can support ASP this holiday season.