Vail Valley students recognized for artwork |

Vail Valley students recognized for artwork

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyStudents from Berry Creek Middle School were presented with framed copies of artwork they created for the "You Told Us" social norms campaign. Pictured are, front row, Kimberly Gonzalez (sixth grade), Julio Garcia (eighth grade), Esmeralda Cruz (eighth grade), Estefenia Gonzalez (seventh grade), Jennifer Valle (seventh grade). Back row, left to right: Isabella Delgado (sixth grade), Rosemary Vargas (sixth grade), Chase Gardner (eighth grade), Jacqueline Ornelas (seventh grade), Ellie Howe (eighth grade).

EDWARDS, Colorado – On Tuesday morning, the Eagle River Youth Coalition presented Berry Creek Middle School students with framed artwork they created for the “You Told Us” social norms campaign.

Out of 70 students chosen to participate at looking at the data and creating artwork for the posters, 10 mini-Monets were announced winners of the contest: Esmeralda Cruz, Isabella Delgado, Julio Garcia, Chase Gardner, Kimberly Gonzales, Estefania Gonzalez, Ellie Howe, Jacqueline Ornelas, Jennifer Valle and Rosemary Vargas.

Statistics for the campaign were taken from the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey that students took part in last year.

“We wanted to do something special with the data, and created a program called Project Pride specifically for Berry Creek Middle School,” states Karen Koenemann, Eagle River Youth Coalition program director. “With this project, we helped students explore the idea of pride, and had each of them create artwork to express these ideas. Using the positive data from the survey and their artwork, we created posters to showcase the all the good things the students told us through the project.”

The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, which is administered to most students in grades 6-12 across the state, asks kids about their current attitudes, perceptions and behaviors regarding various topics, such as alcohol/substance abuse, depression/suicide, the importance of participating in extra-curricular activities and post-secondary plans. School districts, individual schools and community organizations use survey results to drive their own efforts and outreach campaigns. Survey results are also used to inform decision makers at both the state and local level so they can make data-driven decisions regarding programming to increase students’ health, safety and academic performance.

Last year was the first time the coalition collected Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data from Eagle County middle schools.

The students’ artwork ran directly alongside the following messages:

• 91 percent of Berry Creek students believe that school staff tries to make Berry Creek a place that students want to be.

• 95 percent of Berry Creek students think it’s important to go to college.

• 81 percent of Berry Creek students have participated in an extra-curricular activity at school.

• 96 percent of Berry Creek students think it’s important to finish high school.

• 85 percent of Berry Creek students have never sniffed inhalants.

Students had to fill in the blanks of “I promise to … ” and “Pride is … “

Esmeralda Cruz promises to “Change myself, not others,” while Julio Garcia promises to “Help other people in whatever they need and take time to improve the community.” Rosemary Vargas splashed a variety of words all over her drawing, from courage and wisdom to honesty and cooperation.

“The staff at Eagle River Youth Coalition loved working with the students at Berry Creek Middle School and looks forward to continued collaboration in the future,” Koenemann said.

The youth coalition makes youth a community priority by keeping a finger on the pulse of young people’s attitudes and behaviors through the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey distributed to both public and private middle and high school students in Eagle County. This data then guides the youth coalition to implement positive youth development and best practices based on the science of prevention.

Social norms are defined as rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit.

The social norms theory states that much of people’s behavior is influenced by their perception of how other members of their social group behave. According to this theory, people tend to misperceive or exaggerate the negative health behavior of their peers. If people think harmful behavior is typical, they are more likely to engage in that type of behavior.

The bottom line: all too often, perceptions are incorrect. Alternatively, by educating a group about healthy behavior that is in fact the usual practice among their peers, behavior can be affected in a positive manner.

Berry Creek was the first middle school in the county chosen to pilot the artwork portion of the “You Told Us” social norms campaign this year due to the fact that pride is so much a part of the school culture, school officials said.

“We at BCMS feel that school pride plays a contributing role in maintaining and improving all aspects of a school’s environment, programs and activities,” said Robert Cuevas, Berry Creek principal. “School pride is a feeling deep down inside of us. We feel it each morning when we walk through the front doors of BCMS; it’s pride, it’s caring, it’s treating each other with respect and it holds a very special place in the hearts of our staff and students. So, even though you can’t define it in one word, you know it when you see it, hear it and feel it. It’s alive and well in the halls of BCMS.”

For more information on the amazing things going on at Berry Creek Middle School, go to or call 970-328-2960.

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