Symposium speakers inspiring Vail Valley students |

Symposium speakers inspiring Vail Valley students

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” Berry Creek Middle School students learned first-hand what perseverance is all about, thanks to a Vail Symposium speaker who told them about marathons she has run all over the world.

The Symposium is an adult education program that its new executive director Carrie Marsh wanted to expand into Eagle County schools. The Symposium’s speakers have gone to speak to students before, but this year every speaker from the Symposium’s Adventure Series will be giving presentations to elementary, middle or high school students.

“I think the missions of many of our speakers are very inspiring,” Marsh said. “I think the messages they bring are important to bring to kids.”

The Adventure Series, one of the Symosium’s most popular speaker series, features people who thrive on action and adventure, often times finding themselves in life-threatening situations. From a sea kayaker to an underwater explorer to a big mountain skier, these speakers have stories to tell.

The speakers typically talk about their experiences and journeys a little bit differently when speaking to the younger students, and Marsh has found that the student talks are usually the most inspiring.

Kimi Puntillo, who has run marathons on all seven continents, told the Berry Creek students last week how she had always hated running, but she set a goal and wouldn’t give up until she achieved it. Even when she arrived for her marathon in South America and was turned away because the race had been postponed, she went on to Australia and never gave up.

She worried that another woman might beat her to the world record as the first woman to run a marathon on every continent, but there was nothing she could do about it other than not give up, she said.

“She was so inspiring,” Marsh said.

Jeanne Cooper, the student assistant counseling coordinator at both Berry Creek Middle School and Battle Mountain High School, said speakers like Puntillo open up students’ minds to different things and break up the monotony of every day classes. Having them come in is a huge benefit to the students and to the curriculum, she said.

“At that age, they get really excited about something new and different,” Cooper said. “It brings up some curiosity on their part, which stimulates learning.”

The partnership between the Symposium and the schools is still evolving, said Susan Mackin Dolan, a Symposium advisory board member. The teachers have really full plates, she said, so the Symposium has to work pretty closely with them to find the right tie-in with the curriculum.

She hopes to get more speakers into more schools next year because “there’s so much (the students) can learn from them,” she said.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

For a schedule and list of the Vail Symposium’s speakers from now through May, visit

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