Gratitude from the students of Year 14 (2021-2022)
While at Link I have learned so much and discovered so many new passions. One of my new passions is rock climbing. My fondest memory of rock climbing is returning to my second ever climb that I have done. The first time I climbed it I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I went back about a month and a half later and I was able to mock lead that same climb. Leaps and bounds better than I was the first time I climbed there. Another memory I have is joining the mountain bike team here at Link during the first month or so of school. It was a great way to get to know everyone and push myself to be better. I remember my first race up in Snowmass. I was still pretty new to mountain biking so I didn’t end up getting a good placement but I remember crossing the finish line and receiving unconditional support from my teammates and James. After I was done with my race I got to cheer for the girls race. Once again, the girls received unconditional support from their teammates and did a great job during the race.
Something that has been super meaningful to me while here at Link is the amount of maturity I have learned. I have learned how to work through difficult situations and how to solve difficult tasks. Another aspect of the maturity I’ve learned here is how to be a productive and contributing member of a community. I’m extremely grateful for learning those skills, and can’t wait to learn many more.
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’ve only been here for a semester, but I can already 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.
Link has been everything I had hoped it would be. The academics have been extremely engaging. On Wednesdays I have a block period for Geology. During one of those block periods we went to our Geology teacher’s farm. We drove up a winding path to a creek filled with vibrant green moss and precious blue stones. I had never had a class like this before. I was hands-on learning about the rocks in our valley in a way that inspired and amazed me. I came back from this expedition excited to learn more about all this valley had to offer. I have never found myself to be this engaged or curious about schoolwork.
My project time is somewhere where I can dive deeper into a topic that interests me. For my project time I am working towards the Wolf level of leadership. It involves a lot of different mountain and river tasks, but it also focuses on growth in leadership while at Link. This project is a big one for me to conquer; however, I feel as though it will be such a valuable project for me to work on. During some of the allotted time for projects I worked alongside some of my classmates on transfer belays. Being surrounded by other students who are just as engaged and willing to learn about outdoor safety was so inspiring to me. Everyone was focused, but the mood was kept lighthearted. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons that I will be able to use in my future, whether as a guide due to an increase in outdoor experience or as the CEO of a company due to my growth in leadership.
This year we have been to Moab for river excursions and biking and to the Lost Wonder Hut for service work. Every place we have gone has made me fall more in love with the beauty of the nature that is all around us. One particular moment that truly made me feel at peace and like I was in my right place was on our first Moab trip. We had just spent several days boating on the Green River and climbing at Wall Street. I was expressing pure bliss for the life I was living. On the last morning we took a short hike to a rock overlooking the canyon for spiritual prep. We all sat side by side on this rock as James read us passages he felt were powerful from the lesson. I was enraptured by the spiritual ideas as I looked at the cascading rock towers perched on the side of a flowing river. I felt alive and almost in shock. I was taking in all of this amazing nature whereas back home I would have been trapped listening to a lecture. Never in my life had I felt so at home.
Climbing entices me. The rock is like a puzzle that I have to solve in a way that works for me. Before high school, I was on a competitive climbing team. I spent most of my free time scaling walls. It was a sport I finally loved to do. Unfortunately, once I got into high school, I had gotten so caught up in the workload and school in general that I no longer had time to climb six hours out of the week. I came to Link galvanized by the idea that I would be able to climb again. Since I have been here I have climbed at least once every week. Climbing in this environment has been very uplifting. I am not a proficient crack climber, but I still try my hand at it. While climbing a crack called Bob’s crack I was struggling to continue upward. My classmates were there supporting me and reminding me that I could do it no matter how much I felt like I couldn’t. This community is one that truly wants the best for you in every situation and feeling that love while doing an activity that I adore is one of the best feelings.
My confidence has grown immensely since I arrived at Link. I believe that is mostly due to the community here. I have often felt like I need to change myself so that other people would like me better. The community at Link has shown me that my true personality is the one I should always be expressing. I ask more questions during class. I dance to my heart’s content when a song comes on. I joined the Mountain Biking Team to overcome my fears. I learned that it is important to do things for myself sometimes. I have started to learn a fourth language. I stand up for myself. Link helped find the confidence in me that other people frequently told me I didn’t have.
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 like to take the time to thank you. My name is Owen and this is my first year here at The Link School. This is my last year in high school, and I couldn’t have a better place to be. I am the youngest in my family and have always had their full support for my passions. I have gone to many different high schools and this is by far the best one I have ever been to. My dad was in the military so we moved around a lot and never had a stable place to learn and grow. My schools never felt right and we even tried homeschooling but nothing fit. My junior year of high school ended up being not very good mentally for me and I went into a severe depressive state. It was hard for me to care about anything and my quality of work gradually went down. I had always known about The Link School and had even had a visiting weekend before, but I realized that if I wanted to remove my depression I would need a change, so I enrolled for my senior year. It was the best decision of my life.
I did not realize the insane opportunities that were here at Link, and in the first week alone we had climbing and mountain biking excursions and a trip coming up. We went boating in the Arkansas River as well as learned about every different type of safety precaution necessary for being in the wild. Being able to go on outdoor trips in the middle of school was hard for me to wrap my head around. I was in Utah on a boating trip in the middle of October on my Birthday! I have you to thank for that. The environment here is ideal, the teachers and residential staff are always inclusive and know just what I need to talk about. They always take time out of their day if I need help on an assignment or just need someone to talk to. I have been very interested in soccer recently and Link has been the perfect introducer to it. We get to go maybe once a week to the field and play soccer with each other. There are all different types of levels of skill and everyone is a role model to me. I have also been a big consumer of river sports and Link has been a huge supporter in that realm.
The inclusive community that is all-encompassing here at Link is the best I have ever seen. Because there are not that many students, we all have the chance to become the best of friends and bond in ways that would never be possible at a regular school. My fellow students are always wanting to help if they see a need. Link is literally just one big family. I have been able to grow here in unimaginable ways. My confidence in the outdoors and with every activity we do is one of my biggest improvements. Everyone pushes me to be better, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I have also been more passionate about learning again. My personal growth has been noticed by my family in just one semester alone and it’s getting better every day. My depression has been dissipating, and I have The Links School to thank for that.
Thank you for giving me and everyone else the opportunity to come to this amazing place,
Howdy, I am the glorious, godly handsome, incredibly humble, amazing artist that hails from Carson, Nevada! In all seriousness, my name is Connor and as I said above, I am an artist that hails from the capital of Nevada. I am a man who sees the world as my art studio, and I don’t plan on changing that any time soon. I found Link through A/U ranches, and to be completely honest, I jumped at the chance the moment I could sign up. It just seemed like this school would be perfect for me.
During my time at Link, I think I’ve been in the best physical condition ever. We go rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, skiing, I could keep going– but I don’t think y’all have 12 hours to listen to me list things off–if you do then wow, I am impressed. Starting from last year I was, no other way to put it, HORRIFIED IN EVERY WAY, NIGHTMARE INDUCING FEAR, PHOBIA CAUSING AVERSION, BREATH STEALING MORTIFIED AFRAID, of climbing. I have no idea what caused this but, I was. Through my time at Link I began to lose my fear of it because of the staff and students, and now at this point, I am still nervous but enjoy climbing outside, sure I can’t complete them yet, but I’m getting there. I don’t need to get into hiking. I love doing that already. It’s hours outside in the beautiful nature with nothing but your own thoughts, what could be better? With skiing, I’ve always wanted to try snowboarding, and Link gave me that outlet. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not good–at all– I saw a child the other day who was ripping down better than me–and he looked like he was 7– BUT I WILL IMPROVE! Academically, this is the best I’ve ever been, just like my physical strength, who woulda thunk. The teachers here are so nice and the small class size is absolutely perfect, it gives the teachers a chance to actually do their jobs unlike public school where they just throw paper and expect you to learn! What do you mean? No, I don’t have strong opinions!
This school–ok, there is only one thing I need to say–and it’s the only thing I feel I should say. When I came here, I had anger issues. Throughout last year and the beginning of this semester I worked so hard to try and tame them, and the community and staff did wonders for them. Just stepping onto the grounds of this school fills me with immeasurable joy, because I know that no matter what we are doing today, I will have fun.
So thank you, whoever you are, for helping fund a fantastic school, I don’t think I would have turned out the same if I went to any other school, there just isn’t another school that will give you the same support as here, we really just lift each other up.
My name is Duncan, I grew up in Colorado and lived there for 13 years before moving to Texas and then coming to link. I live in a family of six with my parents, two sisters and brother. I found out about Link from another student named Bennet who has been a family friend for a while. It sounded like something I would enjoy because I’ve always struggled with public school and so far it has been going really well. I’ve always done well in smaller groups and Link is just a really good environment for how I learn. And getting to have time to play games like hockey, soccer, and climbing is super fun. The trips we go on are super fun and have taught me to appreciate things like biking and kayaking way more. I feel like in this environment I have so much more room to grow and learn about who I want to be.
My name is Jonathan and I’m an international student from Germany. I grew up playing soccer in a club team until I was 18. I have three brothers and two sisters and all my brothers and my younger sister went to school in the US and still live here. I went to a pretty monotonous German public school until the end of 10th grade when I decided to go to Link.
Here at Link, I get to experience the beautiful outdoors of Colorado by going rock climbing, mountain biking, rafting, or skiing in the afternoons. For me personally, it is extremely fascinating to see places like Moab, which I’ve only seen in pictures or movies before, in person when we go on trips. Moab has definitely become one of my favorite places that I have been to because with Link, I visited amazing national parks, did activities like biking on the red rocks of Slickrock bike trail, or rock climbing at Wall Street.
My favorite day of the week is Tuesday because the whole school plays soccer which is my favorite thing to do. I love how everyone at Link is willing to try new things like playing soccer which isn’t as big of a sport in America as it is in Europe. My favorite thing about Link academically is the fact that we don’t learn by just sitting in a classroom. In my Science Class for example, which is Geology this year, we drive to places and learn about the nature around us by experiencing and seeing it in person. Our international trip to Mexico in January next year focuses on Spanish and marine biology which is another opportunity to get to know a new culture, experience a different country and its beautiful nature, and how we can change things to protect the environment there. I have also learned so much by just being on campus with the other students by experiencing them as who they are and seeing their growth.
The first few months at Link were really challenging for me because everything was so different from the life I lived before. I couldn’t play soccer in a team anymore, I didn’t have as much time to do an individual workout as before, and I just had to follow a very tight schedule. Over time I noticed how nice it is to experience something new and try things that I didn’t get to try in my life before and make the time that I need to do the things I want to do. That means I got a lot into mountain biking and snowboarding and started to work out and do soccer practice early in the morning. I always liked mountain biking but I never got to do it on a level that we do it here at Link. Working out has become something that wakes me up, balances me, and helps me grow physically and mentally. Link taught me to create the time for these kinds of things by actually using the time that we have because if you don’t use that time you don’t really get the chance to do it at a different time because of the tight schedule. Link helped me to grow a lot as a person, as a friend, as a member of a community, and as a Christian Scientist which are qualities that will stick with me for my whole life.
To get the chance to experience amazing places in the US and even outside of it while being on our international trip, to learn life-changing lessons, to grow on a different level academically, and to make new friends is only possible because we have such amazing sponsors! You guys give me the chance to do something that is definitely not something everyone gets to do in their life and especially not in high school. My mom is a Christian Science practitioner and widowed since 2018. She works all by herself to give me and my siblings the chance to be part of such a big thing like the Link School but it would still never be enough if you guys wouldn’t support us in such an incredible way. I will never forget this time of my life and who made it possible for me to be here.
Thanks to every one of you guys for being such giving and loving people!
All the best,
The girl who’s writing this, can’t thank you enough. Without you, I never would have been able to come to Link, I would’ve never discovered who I truly am. Growing up, I was always encouraged to take risks and push myself. That’s why I decided to make the jump and attend Link. If you ask me, it’s one of if not the biggest change I’ve ever had to make. But I couldn’t be more grateful for it.
When I first came to Link, I didn’t think it would be easy. But I underestimated how much it would challenge me. If you had asked me a couple months ago, if I ever thought I would go climbing or boating I would have told you no. Because in my mind, there were too many dangers. I felt like I was the worst at every activity we did, I was in awful physical shape and I was very discouraged. However, at the very start of the year I’d promised my parents that I’d stay at Link for a full school year. Two weeks in, I was ready to break that promise. But they weren’t about to let me quit. After I accepted I wasn’t going to get out of being at Link, I began putting my all into activities and being a part of a community. Once I saw the true beauty in Link, I began seeing the true beauty in myself. Once I accepted I could do anything I put my mind to, I began to embrace Link more than I ever thought I would.
On our Moab boating trip, we were all sitting around a fire laughing and talking. It was a Tuesday night and I was in Moab. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. The laughter was so genuine and the smiles so bright. That’s when I knew why I came to Link. I never knew how much these people would mean to me in the coming months, or how much I would rely on them. There’s no way I would’ve made it without them. I’m forever grateful for them, and for Link. I deeply treasure every day I have here, and all the memories that I’ve made and will continue to make.
I was born in Florida yet raised in Colorado and have lived in Buena Vista pretty much my whole life. I am a person that tries to make good decisions when it comes to others and for myself. I am a people pleaser, I try to act a certain way so that people will either ignore me and pretend that I’m not there or so they think I am part of the group either way, I try to be in the background and don’t want to be noticed.
I have been doing so much here like climbing, biking, and boating and it has been so much fun. Mostly, I have been trying to focus on figuring out what is best for me and how to tell people how I feel without pushing their feelings down when they try to tell me how they feel. I have been focusing on how to explain something without it sounding confusing to the person listening. I have been trying to find my own identity and being able to speak my feelings without being scared of how that person might react.
Link has been so meaningful to me because the staff is so helpful when I go through tough times and have been so supportive with the decisions I made and will make. Link is a place where even if I might leave, I can still go back to the staff and students for help and also just someone to talk to even if I’m not going through something. Link is one of the most supportive places I have been and they feel like family and you can tell them about anything and they will support you through it. Link has helped me create my own identity, how I don’t have to be a people pleaser, and how to express myself.
Thank you so much for this,
My name is Tara, 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. From kindergarten to eighth grade, I went to an alternative public school that was focused on community building and connecting with the environment around me. I found that when I went to high school, I lost those aspects, and until this year I didn’t realize I had the opportunity to do something about it. Doing school online last year showed me how vital it was for my learning to have discussions and experiential education. This past August, I learned about Link, and made my way here. Now, my friends are engaged in class, and after school, I’m able to explore the world around me with those same peers. Moving away from home was definitely a big step for me, but it feels like a step in the right direction.
There have been so many opportunities for me to express myself here, and I’m so grateful that I was able to come. The balance between academics and time outside has allowed me to grow in this community because I have a good dose of both. Floating down the Colorado River in Utah a couple months ago, I realized how content I was. The slow, murky water below me meandered downstream and the skies above were clear and blue. I could see towers of rock shaped by wind and weather around me, their layers exposed to the world. Had I been back home on this Wednesday in October, I would have been sitting in class, forcing myself to focus. Instead, here I was, making my way down the river. I had just tried rowing an oar boat for the first time, learning how to move smoothly in a bulky boat. Over the past summer I had worked at A/U, and being able to review and implement knowledge from guiding on the Arkansas was all that I could have asked for.
From the time I was little, I’ve loved plants and watching them grow. Last year, I basically started the process of turning my room into a mini jungle, and I worked in the garden out back with all my neighbors. Here at Link, I’ve been able to use the greenhouse to start plants and succulents. Our science teacher, Rick, has been an amazing resource for me. He’s helped me choose what plants to grow, set up irrigation for them, and been there to answer any and all questions I have. Right now in the greenhouse I have several kale plants, a very happy geranium, some tomatoes and beans, and other miscellaneous plants. With the help of staff, I also got our compost system started up again, and I’m learning how to make productive compost!
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. I get to hang out with my two closest friends all the time, and they’re constantly teaching me new things. The immense support I have felt from the staff here has been unmatched my whole life. All of the people here allow me to grow and see the world in countless new ways. 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 are changing me for the better.
Thank you for contributing and making this possible for me,
I am Bennett Rackham, a second year Link student and a sophomore in high school. Born not far, in Denver Colorado, and a lifetime resident, I have known the ins and outs of Colorado for my whole life. I found out about The Link School in 2016 when I was in only fifth grade. I took a tour with my sister, who was looking into an alternative high school, and I was just a tag along. However, she didn’t fall in love quite like I did. Since my first steps onto Link property, my curiosity and my constant love for learning and knowing more was immediately culminated into the beautiful Divine quality it has developed into today. From then on, until the start of my time here, I could merely dream of the experience, the sense of deep community, and intentional and passionate education that is provided every single day. Although, when I arrived, I was greeted with a deeper, Divine, and more eternal Love than I was even expecting. Since the day I arrived, not a single day has been wasted in the development of my further developing character.
At Link, I have been almost constantly exploring myself, my spirituality, and my almost never ending passions. Academically, I have been able to excel more than I ever have before. My teachers and friends create a community of trust and care. This, as well as my ever deepening connections with my teachers, peers, and general community cause me to learn and function in a new way that reflects and expresses the Divines intentions. Another thing that really puts me in reflection with the Divine is my program time. In program, I am constantly being challenged and pushed in a way that I am so grateful for. I not only get to become physically and mentally stronger, but I also see myself get closer to God. Program teaches me things in a way that provides insight on how to love better, how to implement a more spiritual and grateful presence into my everyday life, and how to express Love to the people around me in order to show them that I truly care about them. While climbing, specifically, I get a chance to push limits that before Link, I wasn’t sure that I had. Pushing limits had always been intriguing to me. Link had provided me with the strength and opportunity to continually push limits. It’s especially easy to want to push limits when I am constantly seeing my peers and staff push more and more. Thats why I enjoy climbing, because it is so easy to push limits while doing so.
The community and apparent everlasting Love and Compassion are so meaningful to me. Throughout my Link experience, I have noticed nothing but that. Compassion and Love. Not only when it is easy to give. It is especially radiant whilst there is struggle and hardship. This Love, as well as people perceiving the best in me has pushed me to grow in ways that were unsuspecting to me. My spirituality is my favorite personal change that has been enacted on me and evoked within me. I have gotten so much closer to a God-like consciousness by being exposed to Love, Compassion, Principle, Limitlessness, and The Intelligence. This has been so impactful to me because I realized that The Divine plays such an important role in the universe and Love is the most impactful bind that holds infinity together. There is no lack of Love and no Lack of Intelligence. I am so grateful that Link has brought me closer to the Divine, provided me with countless experiences and left me as a witness to the power of Love. I am grateful that my sponsors have provided me with enough Love to believe in me and support me throughout my journeys and adventures that I have been provided with. For you I am grateful.
Thank you so much,
Hello, my name is Hayley, this is my third year here at the Link School. I am a senior and I am from St. Charles Missouri.
As previously mentioned, this is my third and last year as a high schooler. Over the last few years, I have loved all the new and adventurous opportunities presented here. Currently, this first semester has been a blur of incredible activities, trips, and fascinatingly intriguing classes. During this semester, my favorite classes have been math and Civil Rights and of course the trips and activities we have had in just in this first semester.
Throughout Pre-Calculus, I have enjoyed the fun lessons put together by my math teacher Ben Sleeman, involving short games, breaking into groups to complete a problem then share with the class. I think the best part of math this year has been learning the numerous ways of calculating logs and plugging into another equation to configure a final answer. Many days, learning the innumerable ways to calculate logs has been challenging and frustrating. Of course, at the end of the day I finally grasp the concept, and it feels so great to be able to know more and more, while also feeling confident enough to be able to complete the homework with almost no problem at all. Furthermore, I love that all the teachers are so easy to get a hold of for extra help on concepts or scheduling a study session to help explain things from class or homework problems that are a struggle.
Along with Precalculus, I have loved having Civil Rights as an extracurricular class after all other classes on Mondays. In this class, we all have the chance to learn about history more in depth, and focus on a certain period. From each and every evening class, I have always come away with something that has been intriguing, inspiring, and unbelievable. Recently, we watched part of a movie called Mississippi Burning which brought to light some of the horrific consequences and hardships people went through to gain the same rights as others of different states but same skin color. From this class, I learned not to take everything I have currently for granted, and to look closer at the details of history. Thoroughly, learning about the past, and what initiated certain conditions and rights development to what it is now today.
Within every class, we always go on trips or short excursions in the afternoon to either go climb, play soccer, bike in the valley, or go skiing up at Monarch. In most of these activities, I have gained more confidence in my abilities, and have worked to further develop my skills and increase my usage of the qualities we strive to express here. Every trip we take, also improves our expression of the qualities we have already, but also the qualities we chose for each year.
Now, as the second semester is rapidly approaching, I am looking forward to the continued intake of knowledge from all classes. In all cases, I am excited for the next trips we will take, and the adventures we will have as a school with each activity too. I am so grateful for everything that Link has offered to me as a student, growing as a person, learning about important moments in history, living in a smaller community, and making memories that I will keep forever.
Thank you again for donating to this school, and helping to finance all the amazing opportunities we get have each and every year!
My name is Maya and I’m a freshman. I live here in Buena Vista, and have my whole life. I live in a very loving family with my parents and two younger brothers. I remember in 8th grade I was talking with my mom about where I wanted to go for High School. I didn’t want to go to the public high school because I was very introverted and had gone to a small private school since 2nd grade. So, my mom and I were looking at possible high school options and there weren’t many. She mentioned Link, and immediately I was hooked. It was a school that I knew I wanted to go to. Then we looked at the tuition cost. My parents knew they couldn’t afford it, and I was devastated. The only other option left that wasn’t homeschool was the public school. The whole year, I was scared to go, to leave the small school I was in, to a place that was so big, unknown, and unforgiving in my mind. Then, in August, big news came. My mom called me into her room, and sat down on the bed. She looked me in the eye, and told me everything. She had gotten a call from Link, saying they had a spot open, and wanted me to fill it in. My mom said that we had enough money to send me if we got the financial aid. I remember covering my mouth and tears springing to my eyes. “This can’t be real. This can’t be real,” I thought. It was going to be a huge change, but it was one I was willing to make, because I refused to let such a remarkable opportunity slip through my fingertips. It almost happened once, and I wasn’t going to let it happen again. We started the process. I applied, had a phone interview and that morning, got an email saying that I was accepted. I was crying tears of joy, because I knew that this school would change me. What I didn’t know then was how much it would actually end up changing me.
I remember vividly the day I arrived. I got out of the car and a bunch of students came over and greeted me. They helped me bring my stuff in and my roommate showed me around campus. But, that’s not what I remember so vividly. What I remember was feeling scared. I was scared to meet all these new people, to do school differently and live in a new place. Now I look back, and am astonished by how comfortable I am now, compared to then. And I have all the little things that have happened here to thank for that. I think one of those things though, has been soccer. Here at Link, we play a lot of soccer. At first I was not that enthusiastic about it, because I did not like playing it. Then, as we played it more, I started to like it, maybe even love it. I joined Link’s soccer team, and started playing in town. The most memorable thing I remember from that was our second to last game. We had yet to win a game, and it made us slightly pessimistic. We played hard that day. It was cold, wind blowing sending chills to everyone. We had been winning, and we knew that, but it wasn’t till the end of the game when we realized we actually won. We cheered, and our joy overflowed, and mingled. Even though we were so cold, we were happy. We could see the growth in all of us, and we still continue to grow in the sport each day.
The most meaningful thing here has been the people. I have a relationship that’s different, with each person. We are all vulnerable with each other, and we help each other out all we can. One night I was with a couple of the other students, and one of them asked me how things at home were going. I looked at him and I told him not great. He asked what was going on. I told him about how earlier that summer, my parents had told my brothers and I that they were splitting up, and recently tensions had been high between my parents. It was hard for me to be here while this was happening at home, only 15 minutes away. He looked at me and said something so meaningless, but also so meaningful. He asked, “How can I help?” I knew from then on, that this place was my second home, my second family. One that won’t seem to shatter before my eyes.
I have grown so much here at Link. At the beginning of the year, I was shy, quiet, and not super active. Now, I’m almost the complete opposite. I’m not as quiet or shy, and I love the outdoors in a way I never have before. And I’m not the only one who has noticed it. My friend took me to her homecoming in September, and we had a good time. The next day she called me and she said, “I was so afraid that you were going to be shy and awkward around all my friends, but you weren’t. I was so happy when you just started talking to them and seemed to fit right in.” Link has helped me grow as a person this last semester and I have been so grateful for it. And as I sit here writing this letter, I can’t help but admire the way Link has changed me to be someone I never thought I would become. Link has given me a whole new perspective on everything, and I know my future will be very different now that I have come to Link.
My name is Vincent, I am 17 years old, and I am a junior at the Link School. This is my first year at Link, and it took me a long day of traveling to get to the place I am attending school right now. The reason for that is that I lived in the east of Germany before, to be more exact, in Dresden, in the federal state of Saxony. Going from Dresden, Germany to Buena Vista, Colorado, might not seem like the normal way and it for sure isn´t, but my sister chose the same path before me, and that’s one of the motives, why I am here now. Until I was 17, I attended a German high school, to graduate in 10th grade there. Before my graduation, I felt like I wanted a change in my life. I was in Dresden my whole life and walked every street and hiking path in or around the city a few times. I saw the same people, the same school, and the same environment all day long for 17 years, and every day it felt the same because it didn’t change remarkably, and so my mom came to me one day in November 2020 with the suggestion to go abroad to the Link School. When I heard the proposal the first time, I liked it, but also I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to leave home to do school in another country, and so I thought about it for three months until I decided to apply to the Link School, the school my sister attended for two years. After not even three weeks, I got the acceptance for it, and then, my journey abroad began.
On the 30th of August at 8 p.m. on a Monday, I arrived at Link to begin a new chapter of my life. The next day our academics started, and I was still tired because I had to adapt to the new timezone. The academics have been pretty good here so far. We learned a lot of things that are important for college but also did learn outdoor things which are necessary to know what to do in the wilderness. In the normal academics, we had Spanish online, which was a bit hard to start with because we haven´t got an introduction in sentence building and verb endings for the pronoun, so it was often just guessing in the online lessons. The teachers in the classes do a really good job in general. In English with Robiny, we are writing a lot of papers and grammar tests but even though that´s stressful sometimes it is good college preparation. In Science with Rick, we are on Wednesdays sometimes going outside near Buena Vista to learn things about parts of glaciers and other landscapes forms. Even though I have taken Geometry already in school, I have learned how to prove things that I have already known before, which was pretty enjoyable. For History class I had a lack of motivation at first, as we have it in the evening and wrote a lot of quizzes, but that got better when I decided to be more engaged in the class. Civil Rights with James was also in the evening. It was really interesting to learn more specific things about the Civil Rights movements and it was inspiring to see how those people kept fighting for their rights even the situation seemed bad. All in all, I would say my semester academically was very successful and interesting too.
The program had a broad variety of sports in it, from boating over mountain biking to climbing, ice climbing, skiing, and playing group games such as soccer. I really liked our program because I learned so many new things in these outdoor activities. I never did rock climbing before, and I remembered my first day when I was scared of the height of it, but still did it and pushed myself. When I was on a route climbing I had my whole focus on the next step, so I didn´t think about the heights, and now they aren´t really scaring me anymore. Mountain biking was the activity, I choose as my project time, and so I had a lot of practice with it. We practiced every Tuesday and Thursday, sometimes also Wednesday. Our goal was to have fun, get better at it, and mostly to take part on races from the Colorado High School Cycling League. We participated in two races in Eagle and in Snowmass, some of us managed to qualify for state and so we also went to Durango. I got better at rock features or obstacles, jumps, and I managed to improve my endurance going uphill. Boating was the only activity that I had a tiny bit of experience with before, but just on gentle rivers without or with a small number of rapids. The boating trip in Moab was a neat experience. It was my first time kayaking in a kayak, before that I just did rafts. When I steered the kayak for the first time, it brought me a smile, because it felt pretty easy to be fast and to steer in general. We haven´t really had snow here, but last Friday we were able to go skiing for the first time on Copper Mountain. I hadn´t skied in nine years, so I had to get the basics again, after 1½ hours of skiing, I got more and more confident with the movement, and did the route that we did several times. Now, I can´t wait to go skiing again.
The outdoor activities taught me that it is nice to try new sports out that you haven´t done or rarely done before. We had three trips until now, and one is coming up tomorrow when we head out to Denver. The trips had been a great and intensive practice. There were two trips to Moab, one was the mountain biking, and one was the boating trip. Then there was the trip to Mount Harvard, which was about climbing the peak in two days. Soccer is one of my greatest interests, that is what I am doing as project time right now. I am working on learning new skills and my endurance. It makes me really happy that we are playing soccer often as our group game. Another of my interests is that I like to get to know things I have never done before. That helps me to open my mind, and to learn new things.
Link has a good balance between academics, outdoors, and spiritual aspects. I have gone over my comfort zone in activities like climbing where the height was my problem or biking when I did some rock features, but at first, I was afraid to fall. By doing these things and trying to silence the voice in your head, I have felt those things weren´t problems anymore when I did them again. I really like that you are forced to do things on your own like making laundry, food, and caring for yourself, this makes you more independent. With the spiritual prep in the morning, I enjoy a good and relaxed start in the day and feel awake. This spiritual component helps to solve your own problems, connecting with your inner self or something you can´t see, and you understand yourself better.
I am so grateful that you are making this unbelievable experience possible for all of us, and helping us with that to grow in our personality.
Thank You Sponsor