Shaping our young men and women…

“Our mission is to provide an education of exceptional quality by creating a safe environment of mutual respect, educational alternatives, high expectations and genuine achievement that empowers all students to realize their potential and become responsible citizens.”
—Crested Butte Community School Mission Statement

I’ve never been a big fan of mission statements and fluff full of buzzwords put out by companies or government entities, but the goals set forth in the Crested Butte Community School’s mission statement seem to be appropriate and in the end successful. The 31 members of this year’s senior class may not even be aware of the mission statement of their soon-to-be alma mater, but they will carry its energy and message with them for a long time.
An annual milestone of community is happening this weekend at the school. Almost three dozen of the village children will walk across a stage in caps and gowns and start their next chapter in life. More than likely, the chapter will begin with a trip to Long Lake or camping together in the hills surrounding our valley, but in the long run, the mission statement of the school will flow through them wherever they end up. For some, that new chapter will continue with institutions of higher education in Colorado, across the county and even Europe. Others plan to travel overseas, work construction on the islands or play the next level of their sport. For all, this Saturday is an event marking a step into adulthood, an adulthood that will be forever shaped by their experiences in that school and in this little community.

Just the fact that the school is located where it is—it’s the first thing you see when you drive into town—says something good about the mountain village of Crested Butte. It helps define the priority of the community. Our children are important to this place. High school students haven’t always been able to be here. When my 18-year-old son was born, high school students loaded an early morning bus and traveled 30 miles down-valley every day. There was no high school here. Middle school was where KBUT is now. But through persistence and effort and the recognition that a solid community included children growing up as part of a whole community, a high school returned to this end of the valley and has been a cornerstone of community.

These graduating kids may not know how good they’ve had it. My son is part of the graduating class. Whether it was taking field trips to Mesa Verde or the Keystone science camp, walking around Crested Butte on a Halloween ghost tour, playing sports and learning its lessons, doing science experiments until 4 in the morning or being a “buddy” to a kid younger than him, he learned. The learning didn’t all come just from books. He learned to deal with adults. He learned to treat others with respect. He learned there are consequences and that it takes hard work to get good grades.
I can honestly and proudly say that this school and its teachers, administrators, staff, coaches, custodians, bus drivers and anyone else associated with the institution all helped shape him and his friends. They all contributed to accomplishing the mission to provide an exceptional education. They imparted a unique and safe place filled with respect for other students and the teachers. They shaped the young men and women in this class into fine, young adults.
It’s a special place over at the school. For high school seniors to be able to mingle and be role models for the kids entering kindergarten in the same building is a unique experience. It is distinctive to a small mountain village. It’s a unique community where the kids help each other and the teachers do indeed hold them to high expectations and strive for each of them to find their individual potential.

This Saturday morning, the 31 that comprise the graduating class of 2012 will walk across a stage. They will start a new chapter. And it is with no little effort from the people inside that school that they will start that chapter as responsible citizens. And for that, all of us in this community can be grateful.

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