Volunteering is the tie that binds
High school kids are notoriously self-involved, but many members of the Battle Mountain High School Class of 2003 have busted free of that cliche. From peer counseling to volunteering with community groups, BMHS class includes a number of kids who reach out to help others. Students such as Jessie Agate, Lee Sandoval, Chris Atencio and Alex Penwill have found time to be involved in traditional high school activities and to be active in helping others.
Jesse Agett has been a peer counselor at Battle Mountain High School for the past year classmate. There are 14 students from BMHS who serve as peer counselors for the school.
“You go through an application process and then Ms. Caliguiri trains us for 18 weeks,” said Agett. “My step dad is a psychologist, so I was really interested in the program.”
The idea behind the program gives students a place to talk about problems with other kids that they would be loath to take to an adult. “We learn to listen and to get people to talk. More than anything, you are a friend.”
That more serious than we can handle and we send kids on to Ms. Cal. Sometimes kids have little issues and sometimes they are bigger than you can imagine.”
Agett works primarily with girls at the school. She hears her share of boyfriend troubles and class work concerns. “And I have done lots of mediation, with girls not getting along.”
“I think that as a peer counselor, kids may trust you a little more, because you are still in their age group and it makes it easier for them to talk to you.”
As an adjunct to her peer counseling duties, Agett also has been developing information for a teen pregnancy awareness program. Next year, she will attend college at the University of Northern Colorado. “I don’t know if I want to go into teaching, nursing or counseling. I am going in as an undecided major for that reason,” she said.
Lee Sandoval is a life-long valley resident, the BMHS student body president and an active member of his senior class. He is also a peer counselor for BMHS, spending one period per day in the school office. Through the peer counseling program, he became involved in the BUDS effort promotes Better Understanding of Depression and Suicide.
“I have dealt with some pretty serious stuff in my life and I had people who were there for me,” he said.
Sandoval is also interested in being there for his school and his community. He worked with the BMHS strategic planning effort, sitting down with Principal Mark Bullock and Assistant Principal Rhonda Woodall to discuss the long-term goals for the school. “Most of it is about know down social barriers,” Sandoval said. He also has branched out to get involved in the school
Through El Pomar, schools are urged to raise $500 to earn an additional $1,500 from the foundation. Students then distributed the money to community non-profit organizations. As a result of their efforts, BMHS donated money to the Eagle River Youth Coalition, the Second Language Acquisition Program at the school, a program for blind athletes and the Eagle Valley Land Trust.
“Of all the stuff I have done, I enjoyed the peer counseling the most,” Sandoval said. “Along with learning about the people you work with, you learn a lot about yourself, too.”
Next fall, Sandoval plans to attend the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut to study criminal psychology and child psychology.
Another active BMHS student, Atencio is a student council member and editor for the Husky Howl. He volunteers with the Buddies program.
“I have had a lot of volunteer experiences in high school and the Buddies organization is something that I would say has been the most influential. I have seen results with the Buddies program, with the kids and in their attitudes.
Through Buddies, Atencio has worked with a group of 13 kids, ages 4th through 11th grades. He has accompanied the group on outings and helped with scholastics. Additionally, Atencio developed a program to teach kids about self-sufficiency work to paying attention to nutrition.
“I have had some sin experiences this year,” he said. Next fall, he will be attending Dartmouth. “I am really looking forward to that.”
A National Honor Society member and a BMHS athlete, Alex Penwill is also a Special Olympics volunteer. He spends his own, free time volunteering with the program.
“I heard about the program and it sounded like something that would be enjoyable,” he said.
Every other Sunday during ski season, Penwill is on the hill with one of his Special Olympics charges. “It was definately very cool thing to do. It was partly me wanting to do something to help out. Plus the people in the program are very fun people to ski with.
“It was absolutely one of the best things I could have done with my weekends.”
Penwill plans to enroll in college as a liberal arts student. “I like to write,” he said. “High school has been a lot of fun and I college.”
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