Gratitude from the students of Year 14 (2021-2022)
I am William Rackham and this is my third and final year at Link. I am from Denver, and I love that city with all my heart; although, over the past few years, Link has become a piece of my identity. I have lived and breathed this community each school year, and I have loved every second of it. I can confidently call this place my second home, and I am growing prouder of that statement each year.
Growing up I was always adventurous. I loved wandering too far, causing mischief, and taking risks. I learned how to ride my bike at three years old, and I remember at four I would take it out for long rides down the green belt behind our house. I climbed trees, made mud pies, and simply had one heck of a time as a solo toddler. My parents soon realized and tried to redirect my exploratory habits into sports. I played football, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, and even roller hockey, but nothing made me feel like myself compared to those self-guided bike tours. Adventure seemed so much better when kept in secret.
At my old high school I always felt a dread for the world. I was never excited to start a life as an adult, and I had become so accustomed to doing what I was told that I never thought in my life I would escape the cycle of mundanity. I skateboarded and hung out with the rebels because it made me feel like I had a sense of self-guided adventure, a sense of doing my own thing; although, rebels with autonomy usually did not self-select the most productive things to enjoy. I had freedom, but it was so misguided that I was leading myself into a prison of my own creation.
As I increasingly shut the cell door on myself, I began to lose sight of what I was seeking in the first place. I fell into drugs and lost the adventurous spirit I had always had. I stopped pursuing my passions and began participating in things that I now wish I hadn’t. I lost friends, and slowly my clan of rebels dwindled and faded into nothing before my eyes. That was my sophomore year.
That summer I realized I needed to make a change, I wanted to make my parents proud and become the person I knew I could. My parents pushed for me to go the Link. I was very against the idea and insisted I would be better off in public school, where the class sizes were bigger and I could disappear into the back, leaving my mischief unnoticed, but they knew I could be more. Thank god they saw my potential, because I sure did not.
I started Link begrudgingly the next fall, and as I got farther into the year I began to unveil the true Will. The adventurous and eager little boy who loved biking around the neighborhood began to blossom once again. I began to lead and become confident in my ability to impact others and set an example.
As the years have passed I have begun to uncover who I am, and the other day someone asked me what Link has taught me about myself. It really made me think about how much I have discovered about the reality of my being. Sure, I learned Math, English, Science, and Spanish, but most importantly, in the process I learned the truth about myself. I learned that I can be and do whatever I can conjure up. I can peak mountains and boat rivers and become somebody who I looked up to as a kid. Not only can I do it, but I can do it with grace and passion, and I can look out for those around me on the way.
I cannot put into words how grateful I am for the people I have met, feats I have accomplished, grades I have gotten, lives I have seen turn around, hearts that have filled up mine, and the joy and exhilaration I have gained from this beautiful place. I owe it to Link and to myself to go show the world what I have realized I am capable of and prove that silly sophomore wrong in every way possible. I am so stoked to see where this wonderful life leads me, and in what ways I can give back to try and repay the universe for the abundant good I have received here. Thank you sponsor for making my experience possible. It has made all the difference.
My name is Sonya Stewart. I’m from the small mountain town of Durango Colorado. I am a Russian adoptee and a freshman at Link.
Of all the things I love about Link, one of my favorite things is boating. The first time I ever went boating was with Link. I remember the first day so vividly, the joy and the laughter of learning how to paddle. I loved how refreshingly cold the water felt against the hot day. That day, and all our boating days, will always be some of my favorite memories that I will hold close to my heart. I’ve also found a real joy in climbing, the feeling of being on the rock is one that I am so grateful to have gotten to experience. On our climbing trip, I got to attempt a climb three times before completing it! The amount of satisfaction I felt when I reached the top of the wall was so amazing. Link always encourages us to push our limits and try new things. Before Link, the idea of climbing felt very foreign. The idea of being belayed felt so terrifying. Had you asked me if I would’ve willingly climbed before Link, I would’ve said absolutely not. But now, the idea of not climbing is impossible. The calming sensation and focus climbing requires can feel extremely relaxing for me. Just being able to climb and take my time up the wall, not worrying, is something I hope everyone gets to feel.
Academics at Link are extremely different from any other school. The hands-on learning style and the teacher’ true dedication to student’s learning is amazing and so hard to find in other schools. As a freshman, the beginning of the year felt as though it could have been extremely overwhelming. The teachers and the style of learning Link provides made the transition from middle school to high school very easy. Before coming to Link, I struggled with getting good grades and engaging in class. At Link, I feel excited for classes and engaged in learning! For my project time this year I chose ceramics with Dave Bailey in the town of Buena Vista. I got to learn how to throw clay and make pottery, as well as glazing and I ended up making some beautiful pieces.
The person who walked through the door at Link originally, is not the girl who will be walking out of the door for the final time. When I first arrived at Link I didn’t know who I wanted to be, what I wanted to be, or even what my life meant. I was addicted to my phone, and I couldn’t see the point in a lot of things. I can’t even recognize that girl now. Link has changed me in more ways than I thought I needed to be changed. Now I am excited for idea of the future, I am eager to push my limits and try new things. Now, my phone is not my source of happiness. I now have coping mechanisms. That’s all thanks to Link, because without Link I don’t know where I’d be.
Sonya Kay Stewart
My name is Maya Welch and I’m a freshman. I live in Buena Vista, Colorado and have lived here my whole life. I come from a loving family that lives on the outskirts of town on a little farm and have two little brothers that I was tasked to look after since they were born.
Being outside has always been a huge part of our lives. My parents first met and bonded with each other over climbing and snowboarding. When I was born, they continued to go climb, camp, and hike and would always take me with them. However, when my brothers were born, most of that stopped so they could focus on taking care of the three of us. We continued to go out and hike, but that seemed to be it, other than taking care of the farm. As we got older, my parents started reintroducing us to the outdoors. I, unlike my brothers, was not very excited about that. As I had grown older, I found my love for reading, and that seemed to be the only thing I wanted to do. I’m not saying I didn’t like being outdoors, I truly did, but there were other things I would’ve rather done.
When I heard about Link, I was very excited. I loved the idea of being a part of a small community, continuing to go to a small school, and most of all being outside. Like I had said before, I liked being outside, but it was hard for me to like it. I thought maybe Link could change that. Throughout the year my love for being outdoors has grown immensely. It seems it’s all I want to do now. Because of Link, I have learned to respect and love the environment around me, turning me into the person I aspired to be.
There has been so much that we have done here at Link this past year. More than some get to do in a lifetime. I have gotten the chance to raft, climb, canyoneer, travel to another country, bike, and give back to the world this year. In these activities, I have learned to love being outdoors. There is no specific activity we have done that has made this possible. Just being able to go outside for a week every month has made me grow to love it. So much so, that I’m already planning family activities and camping trips to do this summer.
In academics this year I have learned a lot. Even though we aren’t in school as often as a public high school would be, I feel I have learned more than I would’ve learned at a public school. When I’m talking to friends of mine who go to the public high school here in BV, they’re always telling me there is this teacher who isn’t teaching their subject well, or they aren’t helping them understand what they’re learning, or the teacher just does not care about teaching their students. I’m always surprised by this. At Link, teachers are never like this. I always have a clear understanding of what is being taught to me, and when I don’t, the teacher will try to help me through it and make it more understandable. More than that, we really bond with our teachers at Link. We can have meaningful conversations with them or just talk about random things. In science class this year, we got off track a couple times. We were talking about what we are doing in the future with school and jobs and how to prepare for that mentally and financially. It had nothing to do with Physics, but it was a meaningful conversation our teacher let us have, and in the end, was one that was super eye opening and helpful to students.
The experience I have gotten at Link has been unlike anything. As I have mentioned before several times, being outdoors has been amazing and life changing. But being a part of the small community is even better. In our community we are able to be more like ourselves with each other and always mess around, whether that’s having a dance party at 10 pm, throwing wet, sandy donut holes at each other, or just sitting around telling jokes. We also do our best to love, help, and support others. This past semester was hard on me. After our international trip, I had a seizure that was caused by anxiety. I was scared. But the thing I remember most about that night was everyone who was there with me. They stuck with me through the whole thing. They made sure I was relatively comfortable and talked me through it. Since then, I have had anxiety attacks, but everyone supported me with it and still are. I don’t think I could’ve gotten through that without everyone. I am beyond grateful for the community and the love and support I can get from it.
I have grown so much as a person while I’ve been at Link. And I can’t wait to continue that growth next year. I can’t wait to see where this chapter of my journey will take me, and I know it will be good. So, thank you sponsor, for making it possible for me and many other students to attend a school that lets students experience new things, connect with others, and learn to grow as better people so they can go out into the world, ready.
Howdy ho! My name is Connor Rutledge, and I hail from good ol’ Carson Nevada! It’s a boring and dusty place with really nothing to do. I’m an artist at heart who loves to sculpt, draw, and make props. I love all forms of art and the outdoors, even though some of it may make me very uncomfortable.
The Link school trips have very much improved my connection with the outdoors. When I first came to link one year ago, I had an unchanging fear and hate for climbing. Put as simply as I can, I was terrified of heights. It took me a full year to complete my first climb, and when I did, I felt amazing. At the beginning of this year, I had the chance to do a climb I had struggled so much on last year. Within about ten seconds, I had gotten past the beginning ledge, which had taken me twenty minutes to do last year. The Link School has helped me get over my fear of heights, for the most part. I still can’t get to the top of a climb, but I sure can get close. As for the water, I seem to have thalassophobia, or in simpler terms, a fear of deep bodies of water I cannot see the bottom of. I hate being in the water if I can’t see or touch the bottom, and our sea kayaking in Mexico was a nightmare for me. I had at least 4 silent panic attacks a day while I was out there. Getting to shore was a relief to me. Though I hated the water, I still enjoyed my time out there, the student and staff support made me feel amazing. Our most recent trip was in Desolation Canyon, and I was scared beyond myself. The staff had compromised with me and placed me in the raft to feel more secure, enabling me to have the time of my life out there.
All in all, the staff at Link have taught me so much about nature, and myself. I credit my growth and change to the staff, and I only hope they know how much I appreciate them.
Thank you for this opportunity,
My name is Tara Advani, and I’m a senior here at The Link School. I grew up in Western Washington in a little town by the beach. The neighborhood where I was raised is a tight-knit community filled with people that helped me grow into who I am today. I learned to love spending time outdoors and with the people I care about. Link has been the perfect transition from my hometown to heading into college. My plan this fall is to attend UC Davis and study landscape architecture. Both my values and the hobbies I love, have pointed me towards a career in design which I am all but too excited for!
Link has helped me find myself as a balanced student and outdoors person. I love to learn–both about math and how to kayak. Our most recent trip was down Desolation Canyon on the Green River. Over those five days I got to paddle a ducky, row and oar rig, and learn to T-rescue in a kayak. One of my favorite things about being at Link is the chance to try new activities and learn from people who really know how to do them. Kayaking is a great example. As I was floating down the river, I hit an eddy fence–the edge of an eddy, where there is often swirling water. My boat began to tip and before I knew it, I was flipped over in the water. I tried to roll, but I didn’t have it down yet. As I let go of my paddle, my hands began to slide along my boat, feeling for another bow I might be able to grab onto. A boat bumped me on the left side, and I pushed down and snapped my hips. I gulped for air as I realized what had just happened. The hardest part of that experience was not freaking out. That seems pretty obvious, but under the water everything is disorienting and you have to just stay calm. Had I not waited for help, I would have needed to pull my skirt, swim, and drain my boat. The chance to even be on a river in a hardshell kayak was amazing, and I have learned so much about the sport. Our staff members are truly one of a kind. One of our math teachers kayaked with me for my project, taking me out on the Arkansas and teaching me how to catch eddies, surf, and the movements for edge control. The support I have received, both academically and on expeditions is what has allowed me to push myself and continue to learn about myself daily.
Link has made all the difference in the world to me. It’s meaningful for a million reasons, but what makes it special to me is the people; they have made it home for me. All of the things I do at Link wouldn’t be worth it if it weren’t for the family I was doing them with. I believe that connections are at the core of our existence, and that they change us constantly. I am more than grateful that the connections I have here changed me for the better, and that they have prepared me to reach out for connections in every situation I am in.
Thank you for contributing and making this possible for me,
My name is Brady Hirsch, I live in Sunnyvale California, I am a 17-year-old junior, and this is my first year at The Link School. Throughout my high school career, I have had trouble finding a place that keeps me engaged the entire year and teaches me new things. I came to Link this year to get out of my comfort zone, try new things, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable, I have found those things and so much more. One thing that has been really meaningful and has changed me as a person, was James’s Resilience class every Monday. Through his class, I have learned how to overcome challenges, stay positive through tough times, it doesn’t matter what other people say or think of you, and most importantly that the Mind over matter thought is essential to a successful and happy life. Before coming to The Link School I had barely heard of rock climbing, but now it’s my favorite thing in the world. While rock climbing this year I have also learned about resilience. When rock climbing, the most satisfying parts are when you persevere through the tiredness and sometimes pain to reach the top. Whenever I used to not finish a climb, I would always feel unsatisfied, and a bit mad that I wasn’t able to finish the climb. I was all in my head. My mind was telling me I couldn’t do it, that I was too tired or it hurt too much. That was simply untrue I was just scared of falling, which is unreasonable because I’m secure on a rope and device that can hold thousands of pounds. Since then, I’ve made myself finish every climb I start or until I am told to come down. This experience of being at Link has meant so much to me because I have learned so much and developed as a person more than I ever have in one year. This year has meant so much to me and has taught me so much. I am truly grateful to have had this opportunity.
Dear Link School Sponsors,
My name is Jonathan Keller, and I am a second-year student at Link. After coming to Link from Germany in 2020 for my junior year, I decided to stay and finish my High School education here. I came from a pretty basic German Gymnasium to such an adventurous school in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.
For the past two years at Link, I have been on a number of trips and expeditions I have never experienced like that before. It was amazing to see places I’d only seen in movies and videos, such as Moab and some of its amazing national parks. I had the chance to bike the whole Slick Rock mountain bike trail in Moab, climb the red walls of Wall Street, and learn about swift water rescue on a four-day trip in 2020. My biggest highlight at Link was our biking trips and biking in the afternoons. Here at Link, I found my passion for mountain biking and even got the chance to participate in a race with our Link School Mountain Bike Team.
In my time at Link, I had countless eye-opening moments. After living in Germany where I played soccer and rode my bike to school and worked all week, I wasn’t prepared for such a drastic change in activities, lifestyle, and location. However, I soon discovered what an amazing journey and experience awaited me. When I reflect on the past two years at Link, I’m amazed by how much I’ve seen, experienced, faced, and learned. My life has been changed and my eyes have been opened to a much larger world thanks to The Link School.
It wouldn’t have been the same had sponsors not given us the chance to experience this incredible and life-changing experience at Link. You guys have changed my life with all your support even throughout the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic. As I finish my senior year at Link, I’ll know that it would never have been possible without the support of you guys.
Thanks for changing my life!!!
All the best,
My name is Caroline Kerr and I am a Senior at The Link School. This is my first year here. I am from Indiana and had attended a local high school there for the previous three years. I knew about Link because my brother had gone here for his senior year too. The reason I switched schools wasn’t because I was escaping, but more because I was seeking something new and enriching. This school has given me opportunities that I would have regretted passing up. I have been able to grow in this close-knit community with adventures that have challenged me both physically and mentally. I can see how much joy I’m able to express and how much confidence I have gained in myself. I was able to join the mountain biking team even though mountain biking was something that previously terrified me. I have become even more curious in the classroom because now I am learning for growth and greater understanding, not for the grades. I am proud of this decision I made because for once in my life I was able to make a decision that I whole-heartedly believe was the right one for me. I was able to see past the fear of leaving my friends and family and do what was right for my own personal growth. This year at Link has changed my life in so many eye-opening ways.
Even though I am an Indiana girl, I have always loved outdoor adventure. Link has given me so many opportunities to grow in the activities that I came here for. I used to be on a competitive climbing team, but never got to climb outside much. This year I have gotten to climb almost every week and go on several climbing trips. More importantly I have been able to learn so much about safety in climbing. James Orlet and I spent countless project time sessions working on setting up anchors, learning how to repel, learning knots, and practicing rescue situations. Nowhere else in my life would I have been able to learn so much about climbing in such a safe way. Now I can confidently go out into the world and climb with friends knowing that I have the skills to do so safely. One of my most memorable climbing experiences was when Will, James and I went on a 3-day climbing trip to Bluff and Moab. On the first morning we climbed a beautiful multi-pitch crack climb. The rest of the day didn’t go according to plan once, but that was the true beauty of the experience. We were able to learn how to go with the flow and not focus on the end result. We spent time enjoying the journey. Link has always supported me on whatever my journey needed to be. I am so grateful for all the time we got to spend outdoors this year and for all of the times that staff took time off to take us on extra adventures.
The academics at Link have helped me discover how I learn best. I work really well with the experiential learning outline that Link uses. All of my classes this year have been very engaging, and I have learned more in this one year than I will remember from any of my other years of high school. Our English classes were always truly inspiring. This semester we had a poetry unit that allowed us to be vulnerable. I have never felt so comfortable in a class in which I would happily share a lot of personal things in my poetry. Our English teacher allowed us to shine and delve deep into our feelings and experiences. My writing grew so much throughout this year, and I have been well prepared for all of the college papers headed my way. The classes at Link are the perfect environment for growth in learning. You get the one-on-one attention you need because all of our teachers care so much about our success and well-being outside of academics.
This year the biggest thing I learned was how to appreciate the beauty around me. Our community was always evolving and changing. There was constant support through both the hard times and the very good times. We had moments of pure excitement together and for each other and we also had moments where we had to pull each other back up. This community was a beautiful thing to watch grow. These are relationships that I will cherish for the rest of my life. We became a family. There is no other time in my life when I will be placed in a situation where you are surrounded by the same people all the time and in everything I do, but that was what made it beautiful. I am extremely grateful for each and every person I spent this year with because I had powerful moments with every one of them. In addition, I learned how to appreciate the beauty in myself. This year was heavily community based, but also a time to sit with myself and learn how to love myself. I found more self-confidence in myself and so much joy that had never been there before. I found a new part of myself and Link gave me a great foundation to continue exploring and finding myself. Most of all I found beauty in nature. Every single tree, canyon wall, flower, rock, little critter leaves me in awe of this gorgeous world. I have learned to appreciate the world that nourishes us and is my home. I will never forget the lessons I learned at this spectacular school. I will never look at the world through the same lense. Link changed my perspective on the world and on people. There has been so much growth here.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to find myself and thank you for making it possible for me to have so many amazing experiences,
I would just like to say thank you. My name is Owen and this was my first year at The Link School. This was my senior year of high school, and I truly can not believe how it turned out. I have been to many different schools over the years and none of them have ever seemed to fit. They always had an aspect of it that I did not like, and I often found myself looking for something better. Eventually, it occurred to me to try Link. A better school could not have fallen into my lap.
The classes that I took at Link were always very engaging and realistic about the world around us. My teachers would be very knowledgeable about the subject and would go at my pace. They took time out of their days to help me and to make the subject easier to understand. I have been to some big schools before but never had I been to a school of this size. As a whole, we had 14 students, so our class sizes were often very small. However, to me, that made it so special because I got to share this amazing experience with people that I became very close with. It truly is like one big family and everyone is always willing and wanting to provide support for those around them. In my opinion, the people are what make The Link School. Another big part of our lives at Link is the activities we do. We get to rock climb, white water kayak, snowshoe, ski, hike, ice climb, and more. I was never very into all of those things, those were only things I did at summer camp. Now though, I try to do them as much as I can because Link has instilled a new sense of adventure and exploration in me.
Spending my senior year of high school at Link was the best decision of my life. It has meant so much to be able to experience everything this year and make connections with all of these people. I have grown in so many ways, I cannot even imagine. I have learned how to step up as a leader and to become more understanding and compassionate towards people. Everything that I experienced at The Link School I will take forward in life and it means so much to me that others get to experience this too.
Thank you for giving me the chance to be a part of this,
My name is Vincent Geyer, I am 18 years old, and I am from Dresden, Germany. I am a junior and this is my first year at The Link School. I found Link because my sister was here for the last two years. Her name is Victoria Geyer. As I saw the exciting experiences she had at The Link School and how it changed her personality, I thought that this could be the right place for me as well.
In an ordinary high school, you would be sitting in class but at Link, the second semester started immediately with a trip to Mexico, which was pretty crazy. We went from the cold snowy Buena Vista, Colorado to the warm and sunny Todos Santos, Mexico, from skiing steep powdered runs to kayaking on the ocean and playing with towering waves. The time in Mexico was one I won´t forget because it brought our already strong community even closer together. Sea kayaking was something really special, being one with the big calming water and its animals and riding waves with the kayak while having beautiful weather. When a day of kayaking was over, we were cooking, playing, and sleeping on the sandy beach of Isla Espiritu Santu, hearing the ocean speaking, and being enlightened by the broad and bright night sky. Experiencing that, gave me a sense of freedom, happiness, and knowledge, that I took with me into the rest of the second semester, especially into the academic weeks. During our academics this semester, I learned which elements you need to put into a poem to make it a poetic work. With that, I found the joy of writing and reading poetry, which I had never had before. I began writing a lot of poems, some for English class, some for my own. They started being meaningful to me, as I was able to express myself in writing without thinking about formatting pieces. James´s resilience class on Monday evenings was really enjoyable. We read the book Unbroken, a true WW2 story about an American man named Louie Zamperini whose plane crashed into the ocean and had to be on a raft for over 40 days with hardly any food or water, and then got captured by Japanese soldiers and put into a POW camp in really bad conditions. He survived and lived a long life after that. By reading that book and talking about several other stories showing people surviving or doing crazy things, even though they were in bad material conditions, I was inspired, motivated, and willing to change my perspective looking at certain things in my life. When I encountered a situation that seemed extremely hard, I thought about these resilient examples of people and was convinced that I can go through it. It taught me that no matter how hard a moment might be, I am able to overcome it because it is just about a change of your mindset. The academic classes gave me a lot of new knowledge and were well instructed. When I came to Link, I had barely done any of the activities we did before, so a lot of the things we learned about them were new to me. As an outdoor activity in Germany, I hiked in the mountains occasionally but hadn´t done rock climbing, kayaking, or mountain biking before. I knew about these activities, but I had no chance or intention to do them. Link enabled me to do them, by providing the gear and the knowledge in order to practice those things. Over the course of the year, I learned to appreciate the activities we do, because they brought me so much fun and knowledge. Furthermore, they are also helpful for being out in the wilderness to go over an obstacle or face other problems. Finally, they gave me more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and be more outside in general.
Thank you so much for making this journey possible for me. By supporting the school and my journey, you changed my life and part of my being. It gave me so many new experiences and knowledge in the outdoors, living in a small community without any relatives, and discovering my spiritual being.
I am so grateful that I got this chance offered.
I am Bennett Rackham, a sophomore at Link. It is my second year, and I am so grateful for it. I grew up in Denver, Colorado, and have spent my whole life living here. While growing up, I was always excited about adventure. I seized every opportunity that I had to go on an adventure and am so grateful that I fell in love with it. The love that I developed as a child for exploration pushed me to go to Link. Before Link, I had attended the A/U ranches camps for several years. Here, I heard about and visited Link. The summer before my fourth-grade year, my older sister visited Link. She was going into her freshman year of high school and was pondering alternative education. I remember meeting Bobby Lewis at camp. He was the one who first introduced me to Link. Considering that the school was only several miles away, he said that we could stop by and visit the Link campus, so we did. This was when I fell in love with the school. This visit was intended for my sister to fall in love, but I was bi-catch. My sister ended up not falling in love to the same degree I did, but I was hooked. Ever since that summer, I knew that The Link School was exactly where I wanted to be. Then, during the summer of my sixth grade year, my older brother decided that Link was right for him. I am so grateful that he did. He furthered my desire to go to Link with his presence, his stories, his performance, and his general exhilaration.
The opportunity for activity that Link has given to me has meant a lot to me. It has cultivated my general stoke. I have become super excited about all activities and have even become a little impatient to keep doing them. There is not an activity at Link that I do not enjoy doing. I really enjoy climbing. I remember during our climbing trip in El Rito, New Mexico. I felt so joyful just watching people enjoy climbing. Link taught me how to enjoy being a beginner, enjoy learning, and appreciate other people learning. Additionally, I have become extremely fond of boating, specifically kayaking. On our last trip, when we boated down Desolation Canyon in Utah, I particularly enjoyed boating. Every morning, I would wake up and feel so grateful to be there and to be on a boat in a beautiful place with remarkably beautiful people. Link trips and experiences have been extremely valuable for me because I have gotten to see my peers, who I deeply love and care about, grow every single day. This has been life changing because my peers have taught me so much about myself, relationships with other people, and my relationship with love, protection, and education.
Activities at Link have taught me a lot of things. One of the most valuable things that it has taught me is how to overcome adversity: How to take something challenging and view it differently. This skill will be vital for me because I can take a situation that may seem difficult and view it with a lens of gratitude. I am so grateful for this lesson, and it will affect my life in such a valuable way. Additionally, I have gained friendships that will last for the rest of my life. The people I have met at Link have grown with me. We have been here for each other at the best and worst moments. Growing with your peers really draws you closer to them. I have also learned about myself and who I am. I have discovered myself in such a way that I am comfortable being myself without worry of what other people will think. That, I feel, is the most valuable lesson that I have learned: How to be comfortable as myself. I am so grateful for all of these lessons that have changed me and will continue to shape the person that I strive to be. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to experience and learn all the wonderful things that I have experienced and learned. It has meant so much to me and has been so impactful in my interpersonal and spiritual growth. I would not be here without you and appreciate it more than you know.
Thank you so much for all your generous sponsorships and donations to keep this school continuing. My name is Hayley Preston, and I am a senior this year. At the moment I live partly in St. Charles, Missouri, and partly here in Buena Vista, at the Link School.
This is my third year being at The Link School, and I think my favorite activities might have changed slightly over the last couple of letters. Now, my absolute favorite activity is skiing as well as snowboarding. I just started snowboarding this year for about four days and have a very keen interest in developing that skill set for this winter sport/ activity. My next favorite activity is kayaking. On the last river trip of this year, I had the opportunity to kayak on one of the last days, and I got to go through a couple class two rapids and a class two plus which was very cold but so much fun! Also, some of the staff took students into an eddy at our campsite and taught us how to roll. Honestly, I’m not sure I have a specific third favorite: there is a tie between mountain biking and rock climbing. Ice climbing is my fourth favorite and whenever possible, I join the group to go climb some frozen waterfalls.
As much fun and adventurous times we’ve had with activities, I also enjoy learning in the classrooms. My top three favorite classes are math, science, and art (project time). I love math because it’s confusing and complicated most days and my math teacher this year, Ben Sleeman, would say that he’d only blow our minds once a week, but of course that’s not possible. Everyday had to be more mind blowing than the day before. I think the best unit of this school year was probabilities and calculating all possible outcomes. Science I’d have to say was the second best because of the fun class trips we had to go out and look at nature and relate it back to what we were learning in class at the time. The most thrilling excursion we went on for class was going out to our science teacher, Rick’s, ranch and going to this stream and seeing that it was so deep that people could go swim into the cave underneath and explore. Also, in one of the earlier science classes we drove around and sketched out some of the natural features that we saw in the land around Buena Vista. Usually, I get stumped on what to do for project time, but this year, we had access to town, and I was able to attend ceramics classes at Wildstone Ceramics Studio, so that’s what I chose for both my project time and my senior project. Over the last part of this final semester, I went down more often to work on ceramics and throwing on a wheel. For my final presentation, I brought all the pieces I have made up to Link and explained the specifications of what it took to throw and build each piece and the glazing process for a couple of pieces.
Finally, as this year draws closer to the end, pulling my high school experience to close with it, I will forever look back at all the lessons and important life skills I have learned here. I have learned to not give up without trying my hardest, and if that doesn’t work, to look at a problem or difficult situation from another angle. I’ve also learned to express patience and endurance in all activities, classes, trips, and towards everyone I interact with. Similar to this, I’ve learned to anticipate others’ needs, to be considerate, empathic, and sympathetic for everyone’s situations. Now I am preparing for the next part of my life, college, and will use these skills and qualities that I have developed over the last few years and continue to develop and nurture these as I continue on in my own adventure.
Thank you again so much for all of your generous donations for this school.
My name is Duncan Rayburn, and I am a freshman at the link school. I live in Mansfield, TX with my parents and older sister, along with my 3 dogs. I enjoy playing games (board games & video games), and I’m also learning how to code so that I can make my own games for a living in the future.
My favorite part about Link is how I get to work on a personal project and essentially make my own class and learn about the things I’m interested in. Over the course of the year, I have grown as a person and learned how to appreciate myself more.
Before I came to Link I was a very self-detrimental person, but over the year I learned to be more self-appreciative, and that has helped me a lot. I am grateful that the school has helped me grow as a person, and I’m very grateful that you have funded the school and made it possible for me to come here.
Thank you so much for allowing this to happen
Coming to Link was an unexpected and last-minute idea. I had just finished 3 1/2 years at a school where I played football and had just come off a State Championship win in December of 2021, which was really cool. But I still wanted a change. I had given that team everything I had and was ready to move on. I wanted to be in an environment that supported me more spiritually and I’d always wanted an experiential learning environment, but because of football, I didn’t know how to make that happen because the football commitment was so huge. The timing of my Link adventure worked because it was after the football season, and it’s been awesome. Everyone welcomed me immediately and I felt at home right away. I finally had a math teacher that I could ask a million questions to without 30 kids being held up. My teachers were like personal tutors. The trips were not always easy, but I was able to enhance my understanding of extreme weather conditions, and better assess proper equipment for various needs. The learning curve for knowing how and what is needed to not only enjoy but survive in the wilderness was honed during my time here.
I think the most important thing for me was the senior project. I had to really invent it on my own and decide how and what I would do. I feel like I got a head start on college, life, internship possibilities, what I really want to do for a career and how to communicate my ideas in a comprehensive way to everyone else. I didn’t always succeed, it was hard, but I learned how to keep persevering. I was able to work with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife division, holistic ranchers, took and passed a Wildlife Firefighting course, took a wilderness first-aid class and received the certificate, and herded a head of 300 bison. If I were still at my old HS, I would have been bored out of my mind taking classes I didn’t care about and just surviving with kids I didn’t really have much in common with. Instead, I had a whole new experience and look on life. I wasn’t out of the country, but it felt like a “semester-abroad” kind of experience and I feel it gave me skills I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. I love living in the mountains and I loved taking on new skills. I loved the small class sizes and the friendships that came along with working together. Thank you very much for helping me to further my development. It has changed my life for the better and I’m very grateful.