ESSAY: Ribbon-Cutting at Pagosa Peak Open School

Several people gave uplifting speeches at the ribbon-cutting ceremony last Wednesday, at the Parelli Building in Aspen Village — the site of Pagosa’s new charter elementary school, Pagosa Peak Open School. Speakers included Archuleta School District board President Greg Schick, ASD Superintendent Linda Reed, Parelli co-owner Linda Parelli, entrepreneur Mark Weiler, and the new school’s School Director, James Lewicki.

The speeches and ribbon-cutting were followed by tours of the school, a taco bar dinner, and sharing of an amazing “back-to-school” cake.

From left, Pagosa Peak board members Ursala Hudson, Chenni Hammon, Aaron Burns, and Parelli representatives Linda Parelli and Mark Weiler.

Pagosa Peak School Director James Lewicki.

ASD Superintendent Linda Reed, center.

New school staff and board, posing with the Chamber of Commerce ribbon crew.

Making the cut.

Maybe I’m biased, but my favorite speech of the afternoon was the one delivered by my daughter, Ursala Hudson, who serves as President of the Pagosa Peak board of directors.  Here’s the complete text of her speech:

“Starting a school is very scary. Looking back, it’s one of my the scariest things I could possibly think of doing.

“There are so many ways that a project can fail… and what happens if it fails? Especially when there are so many volunteers, community members, paid consultants, and stakeholders involved… watching, collaborating, investing their own lives… into something that could potentially fail?

“I’ve been stretched thin lately; fear is a hard thing to live with for so long.

“But what happens when a project succeeds? When you make something out of nothing? When a little spark of an idea turns out to be more than just be a dream?

“What happens if you invest yourself in something meaningful, and the journey is amazing? With so many realizations and ups and downs than you never would have been exposed to before?

“During the process, you likely realize that you took too many risks and turned many wrong corners… and you backtrack. You try something different. And you innovate.

“And it works.

“Finishing a project — or even just beginning it — is empowering. To know you had a hand in something bigger than yourself, that made a real difference… even if only for a moment. To know that you, someone with so many faults and weaknesses, actually had something unique to offer, and a place in society to give back.

“Children are born empowered. Life begins with a bombardment of attempts and failures; toddlers willfully make the most ill-informed decisions out there.

“And we want to keep that empowerment alive in our children, to keep them aware of their gifts and talents… to remind them that they have a place in society.

“So we give them the opportunity to work on projects: real-life, meaningful work that they pull from their community. Projects allow them to study where they come from and to dream about where their going. They find answers to questions that have not been asked before. They make unsustainable claims, they collect authentic data, they contemplate that data, they evaluate their work, the receive critique, and they refine their work until it feels complete. And they remain empowered.

“I’m proud to stand here today with this amazing crowd of supporters, our extremely hard-working and dedicated board, and an unbelievably invigorating and talented new staff in honor of the first year of Pagosa Peak Open School— a school built on a foundation of projects and community.

“This would not be happening if it weren’t for you. This school would not be here. So this school is yours. Thank you so much for making it happen.”

Pagosa Peak Open School is a tuition-free public school built around an educational model of “Project-Based Learning.”  The doors officially open this morning, Tuesday, September 5, 2017.
You can learn more at this website: pagosapeakopenschool.org

Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson founded the Pagosa Daily Post in 2004 in hopes of making a decent living writing about local politics. The hope remains.