School Views: Many voices, one community |

School Views: Many voices, one community

All of our schools throughout Eagle County School District offer students opportunities to participate in various clubs and activities to increase social interactions and provide pathways for growth and new experiences. This past week, our Youth Equity Stewardship program held its ListenUP! event at the Brush Creek Pavilion.

After COVID-19 derailed the inaugural event in 2020 and continued to make gatherings difficult in 2021, the closing event for the YES program happened in 2022 and was a huge success. The 2023 event was no different, and it’s important to recognize the students and staff who made it possible. But first, some background about the YES program.

Youth Equity Stewardship provides secondary students and adults an opportunity to collaborate as co-creators in a compelling and vibrant learning community. Rooted in music, poetry, and art, YES leverages creativity and passion to build a more positive vision for school and community culture. To join the program, school staff members nominate students who represent the diversity of their school or district community. Staff members represent a similar spectrum of cultural backgrounds and professional roles and comprise about 20 percent of the participants. The emphasis is on student voice and empowerment.

The YES group meets throughout the school year, and at the end of the year, its work culminates in a showcase event with the community: ListenUP! The students and staff members who choose to participate make themselves vulnerable in a manner in which words cannot do justice. Their vulnerability projects and reflects on the people in attendance and creates a unifying environment of support and respect.

Our courageous students shared their hearts with our community through their talents. It’s during events like this when I can listen to the voices of our youth that I remember why I got into education so many years ago. Many educators get into teaching to make a difference in the lives of young people, but YES reminded me that our students inspire us just as much as we educate them.

Support Local Journalism

I am eternally grateful for our Eagle County School District community and our ability to have deep, meaningful conversations in the interest of creating more compassionate and inclusive schools for our students. We value our differences as unique assets that make our mountain community great.

I would also like to thank our student advocates who make this work possible, including Natia Luck, the district’s student engagement coordinator, and Benjie Howard and Wade Antonio Colwell, who lead Youth Equity Stewardship around the country. Their work with Eagle County youth supports our endeavor to empower and include students in our school communities.

Our YES program is an example of what we can accomplish through collaboration, compassion, and an outpouring of love and understanding, and we’re proud to continue this work and share it with our community.

Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County School District. Email him at

Support Local Journalism