Tell us a bit about yourself and about your project!
My name is Lindsay, and I was born and raised in Ohio. After graduating from Otterbein University with a BFA in Theatre Design/Technology, I moved to the Denver, Colorado area to serve with AmeriCorps VISTA. I served with Rocky Mountain Partnership, as their Communications Coordinator, where we worked to improve outcomes for youth in Adams and Broomfield Counties through collective impact. I am currently serving a second AmeriCorps term with K2H Civic Futures at Arvada High School. Here, I serve as the Communications and Engagement Coordinator for their Arvada Aspires program.
Arvada High School recently implemented Arvada Aspires to meet new graduation requirements for the state of Colorado and to prepare their students for post-secondary enrollment (college/trade school) and career readiness. This is a 4-year, accumulative journey that begins for all students when they are freshmen. In their first two years at AHS, students participate in service-learning projects, where they learn about the needs of their community and help to fill those gaps with community service projects. In 11th grade, students begin their capstone project that is either centered around a passion of theirs, a career of interest, or a wide-scale community service project. They also participate in work-based learning throughout the year, where they begin to learn about careers of interest. And in their senior year, they present a digital portfolio to a panel of teachers and staff, complete with work they’ve done throughout all four years of high school and their capstone project.
What have you learned from your AmeriCorps K2H service?
I have learned a lot about program mapping and how to improve upon program content from year to year. One big thing that my team and I have worked on this past month was creating our SMART goals for next year, analyzing the gaps we found in our programming and things that needed to be changed and then addressing those gaps with our goals in mind. Then, we looked at timelines and ways to implement programming through this lens. This is something I’ve never really had the opportunity to do before, so it has been a valuable learning experience for me, as I want to work in the nonprofit sector after my service term.
I have also learned about all the cool things that our high school youth are interested in. At our portfolio showcase event, one student brought in their puppet collection and talked about the process of how they made them. Another student was very passionate about trains and wanting to work for a railway company, so for his capstone project, he hand-painted a model train. Seeing how passionate these students are about their hobbies and potential careers gives me so much hope for the future.
What has been your proudest achievement from your time with AmeriCorps?
My proudest achievement was that I was able to help organize the first-ever Senior Portfolio Showcase at Arvada High School. Because this program is newer, and only created a year or two ago, the Class of 2021 was the first class to ever have a portfolio to present. With this new event came many challenges. We had to schedule over 150 seniors to present to 19 different panels of teachers/staff, all while taking into account any accommodations the students might need. Adding in COVID-19 restrictions, making it even more difficult to schedule students because most presentations had to be done over Zoom.
While it may have been difficult to juggle all of the logistics of the event, the outcome was well worth it. Before this event, there was a lot of confusion, for both students and teachers, around the importance of the Arvada Aspires programming, especially since it was such a new program. However, after being panelists, teachers said they enjoyed interacting with bright students who they had never met before and learning about their journey at Arvada High. Likewise, while students were a little nervous at first, they enjoyed sharing their passions, learnings from their high school journey, and their plans for the future. The event was well-received overall, and I think it will become a staple in the Arvada community for a long time to come.