Vail Daily column: The kids are all right
For schools, spring is a time of recognition and celebration, with continuation and graduation ceremonies happening all over the community. With those celebrations in mind, I’d like to profile a couple of exceptional Eagle County Schools graduates: Rachel Weiss from Battle Mountain High School and Miles Peterson from Eagle Valley High School.
As an upfront disclaimer, I want to note that all of our community’s high schools have (collectively) hundreds of successful graduates to celebrate this spring and many of them are headed off to an amazing selection of colleges, universities and career/technical training opportunities.
Among all this success, I wanted to focus in on Rachel and Miles because they each are headed to universities that consistently rank among the best in the world. Rachel will study psychology and behavioral sciences at the University of Cambridge (in the United Kingdom). Miles will study mechanical engineering at Yale. Both have plans for graduate school as well, with Rachel considering a Ph.D. route and Miles thinking of graduate degrees in aerospace engineering or perhaps business.
I recently sat down with Rachel and Miles because I wanted to hear their stories directly. I wanted to learn from their experiences and perspectives about how Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley High prepared them for their future.
As some background, Rachel and her family moved from Florida to our community when she started attending the fourth grade. She went to Red Sandstone Elementary, Minturn Middle School (now the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy) and then Battle Mountain. I asked Rachel about her experiences in these schools and she expressed pride in and fond memories for all the schools she attended. She felt they got her ready for college, supporting and challenging her all along the way.
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Miles and his family are long time Eagle County residents and now make their home in Eagle. Miles came to Eagle Valley High from a home school and private school background, attending the Waldorf School in Carbondale up to eighth grade. Miles talked about feeling welcomed into the Eagle Valley High School community and that it didn’t take long for all the students who came from different middle schools to become friends and come together as a class.
Both Rachel and Miles took advantage of a huge number of activities available at the schools. Rachel was in the choir, involved in speech and debate, and was a star in theater – even directing a play at the school. Miles was a three-sport athlete, participating in soccer, track and hockey — noting that one of the reasons he was attracted to Yale was because he became a fan after they won a national championship in hockey in 2013. Both are members of the National Honor Society.
Cambridge and Yale have very competitive application processes with multiple essays and interviews. Miles noted the Yale application had six essay questions and an interview with a local Yale graduate. Miles pointed to Eagle Valley High staff members Dr. Charles Vogel and Justin Brandt as particularly supportive and influential in the process. Both of them wrote letters of recommendation for Miles and taught him a great deal about deep-level scientific thinking.
Rachel also completed a number of essays. She flew to England to interview with the psychology department. She noted that Battle Mountain teacher Tim Caudill talked with students about the science field of epigenetics and it was actually brought up during her interview at Cambridge.
Rachel and Miles feel a great deal of appreciation for the variety of classes they could take in high school, including Advanced Placement, dual-enrollment courses at Colorado Mountain College and the many electives which kept them challenged and engaged. They also expressed great appreciation for the educators at their schools. Miles noted “teachers at Eagle Valley will always take the time for you — they will always help you.” Rachel felt much the same way, stating “students can take incredible classes at Battle Mountain,” and “the teachers want to help you – they want you to be successful.”
In closing, Rachel told me “I had a really great experience at Battle Mountain,” and that the school taught her to think on her own. Miles said, “I’m really proud to be from Eagle Valley High School.”
On behalf of Eagle County Schools, we congratulate Rachel, Miles, and all of our graduates on their achievements and accomplishments. We’re excited about their bright futures, looking forward to hearing about their experiences when they come home to visit and hoping that their time in our schools has provided the foundation for what’s yet to come.
Jason E. Glass is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.