Vail Daily column: Teen passionate about contributing to community |

Vail Daily column: Teen passionate about contributing to community

Ruby Black

Eat, train, ski race and do your homework. Some Eagle County residents believe this is the student’s mantra at the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy. Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy is often referred to as The Academy, coining a more prestigious image. Some doubt that these talented student-athletes offer philanthropic acts besides flipping tags at the annual Minturn Community Rummage Sale. The students may be on the road for up to 60 days — smashing gates, pounding moguls and missing valuable classroom time.

Other people question the academic rigor at the academy. In support of a few seniors, I attended Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy’s graduation last spring and was utterly impressed with the college matriculation list. Not your typical University of Colorado, Colorado State University or Western State placement, but small elite schools from California to Boston. As Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy’s principal, Geoff Grimmer carefully recited each senior’s commencement remarks, I was awestruck by the community impact that each of these motivated students had offered our valley. Ruby Black, a current Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy senior is no exception.

Instead of seeking public recognition for her community efforts, Black prefers to take a less-assuming role. She is passionate about contributing to the well-being and growth of others in Eagle County.

“Community service unites people from all backgrounds to achieve a common goal, build camaraderie and teamwork while teaching compassion and understanding,” she said.

Passion for involvement

At Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, she is a member of the student council and volunteers at the local nonprofit organization, Girl PowHER. This organization empowers young girls to believe in themselves through a combination of physical activity, art and nutritional programs. She was also selected to be a member of the Colorado Youth Engaged for School Safety Board. These student representatives meet with Colorado state leaders to discuss school precautionary safety measures. Academically, she has been performing at a rigorous level, earning a cumulative 3.8 grade point average. As a student-athlete and a competitive alpine ski racer, she is forced to juggle many personal, social and academic demands.

Black plays a crucial role in Eagle River Youth Coalition’s Youth Leadership Council. These hand-selected students represent the local high schools and advise police authorities, principals, school counselors and small businesses on community-wide youth concerns. Through a collective voice, the Youth Leadership Council members offer strategies to make our valley a healthier and more inclusive environment for teens.

‘Make a difference’

“Talk to your peers, see if they agree and then, as a group, lead a difference,” she said. “Help others see a path that could be better and make a difference by being yourself.”

We are quite fortunate to have Ruby Black as a student leader in our community. After completing college, she aspires to be a school teacher with the goal of creating her own Montessori school. I just hope that she does not stray far from our valley. She embodies the positive values, ethics and principles that are encouraged in Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy’s classrooms, weight rooms or at the top of a ski racing course.

Jason Peck is the program director at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, the Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit

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