Gratitude from the students of Year 13 (2020-2021)
I am Lowry Miller and this is my second and final year at Link. The other day I was thinking about who I was before coming to here. Link has completely changed me, and I am extremely grateful for it. I have always been a genuine and caring person, and have always loved the outdoors. I began last year obsessed with horses and was convinced that I was going into a field helping to rehabilitate horses who had been mistreated or abused. I am now ending this year having no clue what I want to do. I am very thankful for that because I have been exposed to something that has opened my thought up, and hasn’t let me settle – challenge through nature. There is a new found fire that has grown in me these past two years – curiosity. I may no longer be the Horse Girl but that girl wouldn’t even recognize me now. I used to consider myself a victim of life. Writing this letter makes me realize how much I have grown. As Theodore Roosevelt said in his 1910 speech Citizenship in a Republic, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…” I am the woman in the arena. Knocking down my limitations, challenging myself, working hard, learning from hard time and loving where my life is going.
I just finished all my academics for my senior year. I’m not going to lie, that is a relief. As I think back on these past two years and my academics I think about how much I grew in my thirst for knowledge. I used to hate (public) school academics but quickly began appreciating it when I came to Link. Public school was hard because teachers didn’t care if I grew or learned at all. Here at Link, teachers care because not only are they our teachers but our friends and mentors. I am eternally grateful to how much each teacher gave extra time to thinking about student’s specific needs. I spent as much time as I could growing in climbing. It has become a love and sort of therapy in my life. I was very thankful for the Mondays when we would go climbing at A/U or outdoors (if the weather permitted). As I prepare to leave, I go with the thought that there is much more improvement that can happen and much more to learn. I really enjoy climbing but also love many different outdoor activities that are offered such as ice climbing, skiing, snow shoeing, backpacking, biking etc.
Link is meaningful to me. All of it. In its rarest form. Link has taught me how to be compassionate and tough, how to learn from situations, that it is fine to fail as long as you get back up, to appreciate the little things, and be curious about all aspects of life whether that is a different culture, language, or activity. Link has taught me what home and safety feels like and what genuine people feel like. I am so grateful that Link proved my cynical view of life wrong. This life is something to be enjoyed and cherished. It has also taught me that this good that I have been exposed to cannot come through humans, but a higher power. I’m not sure what that is but I am more than ready to explore that. The Love that you receive from the staff and students is a feeling unlike any I have every felt. I am grateful for every part of this place.
Thank you for helping to make this amazing school possible.
My name is Victoria. I am from Dresden, Germany. I have studied at The Link School for two years now. The rest of my life I have spent in Germany. My parents got divorced when I was five years old, so I mostly grew up in two different households. I am very blessed to be able to say that my parents get along very well. I would even say they are friends and I am extremely grateful for that. I have a brother. His name is Vincent and he is 17 years old. He is coming to Link next year (Year 14). I am really proud that he is stepping in my footsteps by choosing to go to this incredible school. Vincent absolutely loves soccer. He also really enjoys hanging out with his friends and family. I don’t have very many friends at home but the ones I do have are true friends. I met my best friend in 1st grade and even though I have been away for two years, we are still in contact. Another friend I have at home used to be my neighbor and then we both moved but stayed in contact. He has two dogs. They are so precious and since I live only five minutes away, I come over to help out whenever I can. When I was seven, I started playing the recorder for about seven years. I stopped because I couldn’t really enjoy it anymore. The older I got, the more stress school brought upon me. I absolutely love my family and I enjoy spending time with them. My dad works a lot but when he comes home he goes to the gym or works out at home. I think I got my love for working out from him.
Here at Link, I love most of the things we do. I have discovered a love for climbing. Last year I didn’t enjoy it much because I always compared myself to others. When someone I knew (or thought) was better than me failed on a climb, I set myself up for failure by telling myself that I couldn’t do it either. But this year I thought differently and I told myself that whatever climb I choose to go on, I have to finish. So I did. I think there were only two or three climbs that I wasn’t able to complete. But that’s okay because I tried and I didn’t stop because of someone else; I stopped because I wasn’t having the best day or because I understood that I needed to work up to be able to complete that climb. This taught me that my mindset is extremely important and can get me almost everywhere.
I absolutely love skiing. I had very little experience before coming to Link. Something wonderful happened this season. On one of the first ski days, I was assigned to ski with Lowry because staff thought that we were on the same level. At that time, I was not on the best terms with her. We never liked each other since we met. But riding the lift with her, I had to talk to her. And every Friday we went skiing, I felt more and more sorry for never trying to be friends with her because on the lift rides we talked and got a better understanding of each other. Now we are extremely close. She is actually very similar to my best friend. I am so deeply grateful to whoever assigned us to ski together that day. If that hadn’t happened, I would have missed out on an incredible friendship that made my last few months here so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.
The trips are such unique experiences. I love the variety of things we do when we go on a trip. I really enjoy the backpacking trips where we have to carry all our things. It is always a challenge, but also a space where growth can happen, if you are in the right mindset. I think that you can reach so much, if you just believe in yourself.
I really appreciate all the work the teachers have put into this school and especially this school year. This year could have been so boring, but the staff worked so hard to make it memorable and enjoyable. I am so grateful for all the incredible trips we got to go on this year. I am so deeply grateful for the sponsors and everyone who is putting, time, money or work into this wonderful school. Thank you so much for making this place possible, even for people who don’t have a lot of money. No words can ever express my gratitude for the time I had here. I love how we learn to solve problems with each other. Because of the size of this school, it is impossible to run away from conflicts. Oftentimes it affects the whole community when two don’t get along. That’s why we must be mature and talk to each other to resolve these issues. I value that a lot because I know adults who aren’t able to talk to each other and apologize after a fight and I am learning that at 18. The Link School sets students up for success in all ways possible. I think it is always easier to be grumpy in challenging moments (and by that I mean trips and activities as well as academics and other things) but what I have learned living at Link is that I have the freedom to choose how I react to challenges. Do I take every challenge I can get and use it to grow, or do I turn it all down and stay where I have been for the past years? Do I want to use the opportunities I get only here, or do I throw them away and regret it for the rest of my life? I can choose which path I want to live on and I choose the path that doesn’t support my laziness but helps me to reach my goals. I choose the path that feeds me with knowledge, the path that makes me stronger. I choose the path that will make my future-self proud.
I sincerely appreciate your support
Hi, my name is Hayley Preston this is my second year being at Link. I am a junior, and I am from St. Louis, Missouri. As I already mentioned, this is my second year at Link and it has been a very different experience than at public high school. Some of my favorite classes here have been Physics and Chemistry, Algebra II, & both History classes. In science, I really enjoyed the last couple of classes, especially the helmet egg drop lab, and energy lab. The helmet egg drop was a fun short unit where we learned how to build a secure and tough structure helmet that is capable of protecting an egg from breaking upon impact. The energy lab was very engaging and interactive because we got to learn how to measure a circuit’s current and read how many volts of energy were used to generate the current.
Along with academics, I have really enjoyed the experiential learning and trips we take every month. This year, my favorite trip was the extended trip to Utah, New Mexico, and Southern Colorado. During this trip, we went to the Ute Indian Museum and increased our knowledge of what we knew about native cultures and the people. Throughout the trip, we did lots of climbing and developed the skills we have learned over the school year. Seeing how we have improved and seeing what areas we could further develop. While being here at Link has been amazing and fun, it has also been challenging. Many of these activities have pushed me further and further out of my comfort zone, especially in climbing. Other students seem to have a natural climbing ability and it seemed like I would never be as good as they are. As of right now, I know that I am not as good as others are, but I am eager to learn how to improve, and not only in activities but overall.
One thing is for certain, the time that I have been here has been absolutely incredible, and the activities and trip experiences I have had this year have been unbelievable. The friendships that have developed at Link are meaningful to everyone, and last even after people graduate. One other acknowledgment is to all the staff, especially this year. We have all been here for a long time with no time away from each other. I truly appreciate how much time and effort the staff put into our daily schedule, and weekend schedules as well. I am also grateful for how flexible the staff are when they see we are having a difficult time, individually or as a whole student body.
Thank you for everything you do and give to keep this school alive and running.
I am Bennett Rackham, and this is my first year attending the Link School and high school in general. I am a freshman here at Link. Coming into the year, I was very excited to be here. I had wanted to go to Link for a long time before I finally got here. As a new student and a first-year student, I was very nervous coming into the community. Luckily, I was rewarded with love and respect from everyone. It has also been fantastic to see how much Link can make people improve. This year, in particular, I have noticed a significant change from every single person here, and it has been very influential to see it. I’m glad that I got to be there for it.
I think the most critical thing that Link taught me, is how to build successful relationships with people. It puts you in a situation with people you might not have met or talked to outside of school and teaches you how to build a relationship with them. This is an essential skill to have developed. You will always have people you may not think you like or don’t want to deal with, but building a relationship with them can significantly change your point of view of them. Another important skill I learned here is how to control your mind and how important it is. 99% of all things that we do can be changed entirely by controlling our thoughts, whether it is climbing, biking, running, or mountaineering. It is also an academic necessity, like being able to do your homework on time, studying for a test, or waking up early to complete something. All of this is mostly mind power. It is fascinating to see that in practice, which you get lots of opportunity to do here at Link. This year especially has demonstrated and challenged me to use the power of my mind more often.
With Covid, there have been many extra challenges. When our international trip rolled around, the state of the virus wasn’t great, so we made a trip to the US instead. This was awesome; we went to Moab. In Moab, there was plenty to do. We packed our schedule with special activities like climbing, seeing Arches National Park, and learning more about Native American culture. Although it wasn’t international, it was still amazing. Thanks to Covid, and a sound mind space from everybody on that trip, it still turned out amazing.
Link has been significant and impactful in my life. I have pushed myself spiritually, mentally, and physically. This has led to substantial growth. I appreciate all of the staff and students as well. They all mean a lot to me. The people and activities held within this year have changed my life substantially, and I appreciate it. None of this would have been possible without you, and for that, I thank you.
My name is Connor Rutledge and I hail from Carson City Nevada. I am a man who runs off of hot chocolate and sculpting time. My time this year at Link has had its ups and downs but it has had mostly ups. The community here gave me a reason to change. Before I came to this school I was, to put it nicely, angry. The experiences and people here gave me a reason to find a better form of myself, and to improve. Now don’t get me wrong, I made a good amount of mistakes, but let’s look past that.
Now when it comes to academics, I’m not the best around, nor will I ever be. But I feel like ever since I came here my academic ability has improved drastically. The teachers are kind, they listen, they help, and they are very open. In previous years I’ve been very lackluster, but it seems now that I actually care about my academics. They teach in a way I get, it’s refreshing. The community, oh my lord the community, I love it. Every single bit of it I love, there can be days where we can have the most serious conversations, and then there are days where we screw around and just have fun. This group of people all have something to give, even right now as I’m writing this Bennett and Lowry are slapping each other. There is so much I could say about the people here but it’s just so hard to put into words. This year has been my best in a long time. When I came here I was very closed off. I didn’t want people to know who I was, what made me tick, what happened in my past, so I only told the surface level. As the year went on, I let the frozen barrier melt a little and let myself get to know other people a little more. I made friends and finally felt a little accepted. It’s been hard but I’ve been trying to be myself more often, and this place is the best place for me to have started.
This place, what makes it so meaningful for me is the people. A building without residents is just a building. The people living here is what makes this place feel so accepting, the people is what makes this place wonderful, and just going here makes me happy.
Hey there, my name is Will Rackham, it is my second year here at The Link School, and I am a Senior. I come from a family of 6 and I have no shortage of chaos back at home.
I’ve grown up in Colorado my whole life, and I love everything about this magnificent state. From the snow-covered peaks to the vast and open plains, you can never get bored living here. This state is perfect for me because I love the outdoors and I’m an energetic kid. This has led me to some mischief throughout my life because most schools are, for the most part, not built for people like me. I love to snowboard, mountain bike, skateboard, play boot hockey, go camping, kayak, work on cars, obsess over anything with more than 400 horsepower, learn new things, serve, and have a blast in the outdoors. Nature is my calling, and I’d love to become a mountaineering or rock climbing guide someday. I like to challenge myself and prove myself wrong everyday, and these two things are incredibly easy to do at Link.
Here at Link, we have a good time. There’s no shortage of activities, and if you’re bored, well, that’s unheard of. I’ve been skiing at Monarch over 20 times this past season, gone climbing many more times than that, gone ice-climbing twice, been to Moab four times, climbed Stolen Chimney, climbed Davis Face, Climbed Independence Tower(at night), been mountain biking countless times, visited the Navajo Nation, seen Ship Rock, led a nearly two week expedition, explored snowy canyons, navigated up Mount Colombia, climbed at Wall Street 4 times, learned how to lead climb, learned about Traditional climbing, learned about art, poetry, countless Native Tribes of North America, economic disparity in the United States, Redlining, Colonialism, Federalism, the Supreme Court, the Indian Caste System, went to the Ute Museum, and so much more. The craziest part is that this all been during a pandemic. Link takes experiential learning to the next level, and I’d even go as far as saying it is the definition of that schooling category. The things we do here are unimaginable to 99% of the population of the United States, especially during a global pandemic, and I am eternally grateful I have gotten to learn here experientially.
Link seems like it was made for me. The academic structure has led me to graduate with honors and learn about topics I never knew I was passionate about. I never thought either of these things were possible. In my time at public school I was struggling with classes, social relationships, and everything in between. I never saw myself graduating, and didn’t think it was possible to accomplish what I wanted to. I was losing my passion for life at an alarming rate, and heading down a path that gave me little hope for my future. In my time here that has all changed. Without Link I can’t imagine what I would be doing right now. The friendships I’ve gained here inspire me to be a better person, and I hope to keep them throughout my whole life. I have found leadership within myself. I have gained so much as a person from being here, and I feel a calling to pay it forward every day. This has by far been the best year of my life and I can’t express how grateful I am to have been able to do the things we have done this year. I am truly confident that no amount of money could ever buy me a more rewarding and magical year. Along with this, I have never believed in myself academically more than I do now. I have had straight A’s nearly all year, and this makes me proud of myself each day. This in no way means academics have suddenly became easy, in fact far from it. I felt dumb too many times to count this year, but with a little persistence I have overcame nearly every difficulty that has come my way with grace and poise. If someone would have told me three years ago what I would accomplish this year I would have laughed in their face, but now nothing seems out of reach. I am looking into colleges, and I’m excited to continue my career of learning. Link is the Holy Grail of support and opportunities, and I would never have imagined I’d be able to see and accomplish what I have. The staff’s selflessness inspires me every day, and I’ve grown a relationship with each of them. The best feeling in the world is being able to consider your Residential Staff, Teachers, and Administrators your friends, and even your family. This place means the world to me and it has taught me how to work hard, how to let go of the negativity within myself, how to push myself past what I think is possible, and how to wake up and be a better person than I was the day before.
Thank you so much for making this experience possible.
With much gratitude,
Hi there, my name is Sophia Green. I am from Santa Cruz, California and this is my second and sadly, last year at The Link School. I came to Link as a Junior and am going to be graduating very soon. I ended up at Link after having an incredibly good summer at Adventure Unlimited and wanting to be in a similar environment opposed to the somewhat toxic environment back home. I tried out public school and then independent study my first two years of high school and both experiences checked off one box but not the other (academics vs quality of life, mental and such). I decided to take a big leap and enroll here only a month before school started. It felt like the direction I was being pushed towards, and boy was I right.
Link has such a unique environment. It encourages challenge and pushing until you grow. I have found this most specifically with rock climbing. Every time I step off the ground and onto the rock, I feel a small knot just pit fall into my stomach and the higher I climb, the larger it becomes. Fear is such a fundamental challenge that I think everyone has to deal with. So having an environment that fosters challenging fears has only put me ahead on that road towards being able to accomplish anything. This is similar to what I wrote about in my college papers. I wrote about falling, and how the literal and mental thing have aided incredibly in my growth. Along with rock climbing I gained a lot out of snowboarding this season. I started snowboarding my first year of Link and it was honestly just lots of falling and feeling like everyone was progressing much faster than I was. That is how this season started out as well. Big punches to my ego. It seemed like I spent more time on my bum than I did actually carving. But this slowly changed and I was able to start building skills and by the end of the season I was snowboarding black runs and starting to do small jumps and small skills in the parks at Monarch. I could have easily given up right then and there but I would have cheated myself out of one of my now favorite activities. I can’t wait for this next season.
I came to Link as a very insecure and small person. Link has pushed me into the shoes of the person I want to be. Heck I’m not there yet, but I’m a whole lot closer than I would’ve been had I not come here. The level of challenge just makes me push myself and I have seen so much growth just in these two years. It is probably the most growth I have achieved in my whole life and it was in such a short time. I would say that Link really supplies the supportive atmosphere where challenge is made the obvious choice. The area I have grown the most in has been the mental. I came here always keeping my emotions and feelings under lock and key, and suppressing them until they bubbled over and exploded. Then I would break down to only build more walls. I was able to find people I trusted to start lowering those walls, and my first year was a lot of dealing with past hurt. This year has been working with my darkness. There seems to be this part of me that just revels in pain and uncertainty. I cannot count the amount of times I lost to my internal battle and fell into the cage of my darkness, and saw no way of getting out. I started opening up more, especially to myself. There has always been a lack of understanding with myself in general. I am more inclined to shove things down or distract myself with something else. This is what I am still currently battling, but I don’t think I would’ve even started this exploration without Link. I would not have felt safe enough. Link is instilling in me the safety I found here. I know that I will be able to tackle my darkness in the future, wherever I may be, and that is all thanks to Link.
Thank you so much for making this experience possible for me. I am forever grateful.
My name is Jonathan Keller. I am 18 years old, and I come from Germany. The year of 2020-2021 is my first year at Link and my first year of school in America at all. My first few weeks here were a little hard for me personally because the whole situation was so different for me. Especially to be so far away from home and how different and new everything was to me. It gave me some mixed feelings. The whole community had so much of an understanding for me and everybody here helped me to feel more comfortable and took my concerns and worries away from me so quickly! The willingness of everybody to help me out, gave me such a great feeling of trust and motivated me a lot. I experience a lot of love and respect here especially in the way people help each other out with the things they are good at. Everybody here brings an individual piece of their personality or their daily life into the community and everybody loves and respects the individual way of each other. We do so many different activities after our school days and during trips and I learned so many new things that I never expected to learn and see in that way!
I love taking classes here! It is so different for everybody because the way we learn is just packed with really helping out every student individually with the things they struggle with. The way everybody engages in class and how positive everybody is, even though they don’t understand a topic immediately, is awesome and so inspiring and motivating. I think the mindset switch we have everyday after school when we start our activities, gives me an amazing feeling of forgetting about school for a little bit. This afternoon break makes me feel way more motivated to study and do my homework after our activity because I feel refreshed. Even though our students have some struggles with a class, the teacher and staff are always willing to help and study after classes or on the weekends which is so amazing and helpful!
I really enjoy being a part of this community! I’m so thankful for all our sponsors who make it possible for me and everybody else to be here and to be able to experience something so great! After my little struggles in the beginning, I could not imagine to be somewhere else right now and I know that all that would not be possible if we didn’t have such great sponsors! Thank you so much to all of you!!!
My name is Raiden Petersen and this is almost the end of my second year here at Link. I think about who I would be if I hadn’t come here. It seems nearly impossible to think of being somewhere else and it sometimes seems like being here was inevitable. I would not want to be anywhere else unless I had to.
I am the only sophomore and I think being the only one helps me with my grades. I am able to go to higher class men and ask them questions when need be and become more mature with their help. The community is pretty tight here. When someone needs help they usually ask for someone’s help and trust them with the advice they give to solve the problem. The programs here are so amazing like snowboarding or even hiking. Even though I don’t like rock climbing as much as the other students, it is fun watching them do it. Seeing their progress makes me want to try harder in the other programs such as biking or even working on my own climbing skills.
I think this school is a place that we can really grow as people, see how we want to act towards problems, and find ourselves in the progress. I think that this school has an effect that changes people for the better and gives them a second chance to become someone they want to be. It means a lot to me to be able to see people grow to be themselves and become people who can achieve anything if they put the work into it. That feeling of seeing someone succeed in something they are working on, physically or mentally, is inspiring to watch. It makes other people want to work on their problems. They have made this chain of thought that makes people want to work harder and not feel insecure about who they are. In the long run, this is what I think is meaningful here at this school.
This year was absolutely amazing despite CoVid and other challenges. Actually, I think this year was even better because of those challenges. I learned so many lessons that I wouldn’t have learned without CoVid. With Links, amazing staff, and community the great things we were able to do well in a pandemic were incredible. I was able to go climbing and biking numerous times and the alternative would have been online learning (and i was not really good at that). One time, I went biking at the beginning of the year with my two friends Lowry and Sophia and the Residential Assistant, Summer. I remember this time extremely clearly because I am usually scared to do jumps and such but this time I went over every jump we could find. These three women helped me overcome my fear of falling. I was so scared of falling that I never tried and now biking is one of my favorite activities. I am so glad I got to have this experience and more.
Thank you so much,
My name is Julia Trevor-Roberts, and I am a senior at The Link School. This year is my first year at Link. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to be a student here. I am grateful that Link had in person classes this year because I do better educationally when I am learning in person. Link has a few dogs and I love them so much. I want to get myself a dog when I get home because I love the never-ending joy that dogs have.
Before I came to Link, I was not a very outdoorsy person. Link introduced me to many cool activities like rock climbing, skiing, rafting, hiking mountains, and more. I hope I get to do some of these activities after I graduate, because these activities helped me grow as a person. Something else that Link does that I value is project time. I have a very unique project this year. During my project time, I practice my violin and get violin lessons from my teacher at home. I have played the violin for 10 years and I am grateful that Link supported me with it this school year. My senior project was to audition for the St. Louis Youth Symphony Orchestra. Everyone supported me with it by giving me words of encouragement or having to listen to me practicing. Something that helped me grow this year was the community here. Before I was a student at Link, I resisted doing chores and I let my parents make all of my decisions for me. Now that I have been at Link for a year, I have matured and gained my own sense of responsibility. I learned important life skills that no other school can teach.
The community at Link is very meaningful to me because I have learned a lot about what it is like to be involved in such a supportive community. I never expected people to care about me in the ways I’ve experienced this year. I had fellow students and staff members check up on me and involve me in really cool activities. I remember when Alix taught me how to crack climb, which was a new type of climbing for me. By learning how to do this, I was able to open up a wide variety of opportunities for me to try. I stepped outside of my comfort zone, and I truly appreciate that I did, because I was able to try new things. Link’s uplifting community is very meaningful to me because I would have never been able to push myself the way that I did without Link.