College is an experience that many students around the world never have the opportunity to take a swing at. But here in the Roaring Fork Valley students have the chance to actually hit that ball when it comes and be prepared for the big leagues. This preparation takes place through a program called Pre-Collegiate.
To ready the students, mentors from around the valley volunteer their time each week to discuss issues with their mentees. These volunteers range from your average, working-class citizen to retired veterans, but all of them have the same goal: to prepare students and send them off to college.
One of these mentors is former Roaring Fork High School teacher Bonnie Cretti.
She was born in New England during the Great Depression. "Life was very narrow in these dark ages," Cretti said. As college rolled around Cretti ended up going to an all-girls college. " I learned a lot but I didn't much like the experience," Cretti said. But she attended a much larger college for her graduate degree and her attitude changed.
"The reasons that I started participating in the Pre-Collegiate Program are Adriana Ayala-Hire is a longtime friend, I completely believe in what the program does, and helping is a great way to keep in touch with high school students," Cretti said.
The way that Cretti keeps in touch with her students is not the oh-so-sweet, touchy-feely approach; it's more of the serious, purpose-driven, have-fun-when-it's-done type. But even though she may be strict, that doesn't mean that she has no feelings towards her mentees. "I love getting to know them, seeing the ones that come-to and figure out the importance of education, and seeing them grow up. But then there are the times that I really dislike, the times when I have to let a student go for one reason or another," Cretti said.
Her take on college is that when students graduate from high school they're not ready to take on the outside world, so it buys them time to mature. "It levels the playing field," Cretti said, "between regular people and people who have gone to private schools and have been preparing for it their whole lives." In other words, students are at a disadvantage without it.
She said that being a former teacher has helped her in many ways, one of which is connecting with her students Ingrid Gomez, Randy Garcia, David Ackerman and Daniel Pulver. "Connecting with my students has been quite easy seeing as I have already been through all of the high school drama when I was a teacher," Cretti said.
Being a teacher has not only benefited her, but also her students. Pulver said, "In many ways she's not just preparing me for college, she's preparing me for a higher education. She has helped my search for colleges so much that without her I would probably be hitting my head against a brick wall. For me she seems to be a guardian of education."
Bonnie Cretti: a volunteer, a mentor, a teacher, and, " a good person," Pulver said. To become a volunteer/ mentor like Bonnie Cretti and help students hit that ball off to college please contact Adriana Ayala-Hire at (970) 384-5967 or ayala@ rfsd.k12.co.us.
"This is a great program and every high school should have a program like this," Cretti said.