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Sometimes a class discussion leads to unexpected places -- good places. In Sixth Grade English, during discussions of the novel Wolf Hollow, students expressed a profound interest in one of the characters, a World War I veteran named Toby. He comes to the rescue of the young protagonist and proves himself a true and loyal friend. However, Toby is shunned by the world around him because of his unconventional and unkempt nature, a result of shell shock -- known today as post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Students were curious about this character and outraged by the injustice he suffers in the novel," says teacher Ginger Lewis. With the help of Social-Emotional Learning Coordinator Morgan Henschke and the other Sixth Grade advisors, Shelley Supplee and Tyler Valtin, she "started looking into ways to inspire hope, researching nearby resources about PTSD."
Discovering the Challenge Aspen Military Opportunities (CAMO) program, the Sixth Grade team sought the help of CAMO director John Klonowski. His program "provides adaptive therapeutic recreation and wellness experiences for military personnel diagnosed with cognitive and/or physical disabilities." View the video to see more about CAMO - when the students saw it in class recently, there was not a dry eye in the class.
What's next? All Sixth Graders will spend a day -- Friday, February 16 -- with a group of five veterans and their spouses who will be here in the Roaring Fork Valley for a retreat. The students have already begun writing letters to the vets. On the morning of the 16th, the CAMO participants will come to campus to meet us. Morgan will lead us all in a special guided meditation session. After that thoughtful start to the day, we'll all head to Buttermilk.
Each group of about five Sixth Graders, with at least one Country Day teacher, will accompany a veteran and his or her spouse for a morning of skiing or boarding. We'll share lunch, donated by Home Team, in a conference room donated by The Inn at Aspen, then take a few more runs on the mountain in the afternoon. There will also be lots of time for discussion, learning, and reflection.
Stay tuned for a report on this special day with Aspen Country Day School and Challenge Aspen Military Opportunities.