Yampah High takes center stage
Yampah Mountain High School’s bid to win a $10 million grant enters the next step this weekend with an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker in town to document the planning.
The grant is through the XQ Super School project, which is financed by Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs. The project aims to reshape education in America’s high schools.
Winners of the challenge will receive $2 million each year for five years to help them implement their plan.
Yampah, an alternative high school serving students from Aspen to Parachute, cleared the first hurdle in April when it was named one of 348 semi-finalists out of 700 applicants to advance to the “Develop” phase.
With that phase now in the books and some of Yampah’s plans already being carried out, Lee Hirsch, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, will be in town to record some of the school’s progress, as well as the community that surrounds it.
Michael Lowe, a writing teacher at the high school, said YMHS is one of the first schools the team is filming, which speaks favorably of Yampah’s chances. He, entrepreneur Altai Chuluun and principal Leigh McGown are spearheading the project.
The filming will start Friday with the Glen-a-palooza event, which organizers hope becomes a tradition in Glenwood.
It is similar to First Fridays in Carbondale, but will be taking place on the second Friday of each month. There will be live music as well as local businesses opening their doors to entice locals.
Yampah also is hosting a sidewalk chalk competition for high school students in the area. It will be taking place on Cooper Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets, and will be judged by everyone walking by. The winners will receive prizes as well as a chance to be in the documentary.
“We want to have an exercise that brings together the students and the community as well,” Chuluun said. “We want as much community involvement as possible, so if you’re able, please stop by. Just look for the Glen X sign.”
Part of Yampah’s plans submitted to XQ involve the development of an online platform that can be expanded statewide and nationally.
“The spotlight would be on us — small town Glenwood Springs would be helping to reshape education in America,” Chuluun said. “Education is really struggling in our country, so the overall goal would be to make that possible.”
If successful, $10 million will help Yampah implement its plan, but the team behind it does not want their outreach to end there.
“The goal is to have our programming help all local high schoolers, not just Yampah students,” Chuluun said.
Lowe added that they are aiming to standout as a model for rural education, as many of the other schools competing are from urban areas. He hopes to connect and share Yampah’s best practices with other schools.
Chuluun and the rest of the team at YMHS are doing their best to move forward with the plan regardless of the XQ Super School outcome.
“We are trying to do more than just wait,” Chuluun said. “We are trying to be proactive so that we can proceed with the plan from our school, regardless of whether or not we win the bid, through local funding and from venture capitalists.”
Lowe agreed, stating that they are excited about the possibility of the grant but even more excited about their vision for the school in the coming years.
XQ expects to announce the winners in August.
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Visual Journalist Chelsea Self can be reached at 970-384-9108 or firstname.lastname@example.org