Eagle Valley Middle School to connect local youth-serving organization and families
Community Connections gives families an opportunity to connect and re-connect with organizations, services and resources
Over the past two years, student activities, clubs and experiences have either been altered or put on hold. And this Thursday, Eagle Valley Middle School is hosting an event to connect, or reconnect, students and their families with an array of local youth organizations, services and resources.
Appropriately called Community Connections, the event was actually started in 2019 just before the pandemic by Eric Mandeville, the middle school’s principal.
“One of our school goals was to really embrace our community, meaning school community and also the community at large,” Mandeville said. “As a parent of kids who have gone through the system, I realized that I stumbled upon a lot of the activities just by word of mouth. So, I had the idea of bringing together all of our community partners to one place and open our doors up to anybody and have them come in.”
In its first year, the event started as a hybrid-conference and activities fair where presentations were made on various programs as well as on the transitions from elementary to middle school and middle to high school. However, Mandeville said that the sessions and presentations didn’t really take, but that families saw a lot of value in learning and meeting with the various clubs and organizations in the community.
While the event got postponed the next two school years, it is back this year with strictly the “job fair” format, as Mandeville described it. The event is taking place at the same time as the school’s parent-teacher conferences as well as a wrestling match between Eagle Valley and Gypsum Creek middle schools to hopefully maximize participation, Mandeville said.
So far, 23 organizations have signed up to participate in Thursday’s event.
The confirmed organizations range from youth-serving organizations such as the Hope Center, Mountain Youth and YouthPower365 to sports organizations such as the Buddy Werner League, Eagle Climbing Gym and Vail Valley Soccer. Also, a number of the school district’s departments will be there to answer questions from parents and students including its nutrition services and technology departments.
“I’m hoping people can connect with potential interests for their children,” Mandeville said. “My hope is we have either families that are new to the area or families with smaller children that they’re able to talk to the different leaders of these groups to find out what there is for offerings.”
Plus, after the past two years of increased isolation, this event allows people to come together and congregate in a positive way, Mandeville said.
“It’s reigniting that community,” he added.
No matter the circumstances however, Mandeville said that as an educator, he’s a huge believer that it’s the schools responsibility to not only teach the subjects that they need, but also to connect them with community service opportunities, activities and more. Through these, the school is able to educate “the whole child,” he said, and the kids themselves gain valuable life skills of collaboration, cooperation and more.
“As an educator, I believe activities and athletics are so key to the development of a kid, watching my own children, they’ve learned so many life skills just from being par of different groups,” Mandeville said. “Quite honestly, I learned a lot through my own youth to become me — I learned how to be an administrator when I was a little kid.”
Parents, children and anyone in the community are all invited to the Community Connections night at Eagle Valley Middle School from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 10.
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.