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RMCA Earns Top Honors for Support of Military Students
Some of the hardest working volunteers at Rocky Mountain Classical Academy are between the ages of 10 and 14. They regularly wear grey t-shirts emblazoned with a purple logo near the left shoulder that reads “S2S: student 2 student.”
To students who must start fresh at school when their military parents get new assignments, even a t-shirt in a new environment can be reassuring.
“It helps them just to have that comfort and that knowledge that they are welcomed and they are not going to be sitting by themselves at lunch,” explained Cole Messmer, a 7th-grade volunteer for the RMCA S2S team.
The S2S mission at RMCA is carried out at the elementary school (ES2S) and middle school (JS2S) level. Although age separates the groups, their tasks of reaching out to, and easing the new-school transition for military connected students is the same.
Their hard work is paying off. Late last year, The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) honored the RMCA teams’ combined efforts, awarding RMCA the Elite Team of the Year award out of more than 400 S2S programs world-wide.
“It was completely unbelievable,” said Ava Smith, RMCA 7th-grade S2S volunteer. “I was extremely proud of our school and actually cried a little bit!”
“I think it fits very well because it would’ve been hard to really single out one of the groups because you do work so closely together,” said S2S Sponsor Ashlynn Smith. Smith, and Amber Kettinger -- RMCA Instructional Coach and 5th Grade Teacher, respectively -- are incredibly proud of their student volunteers. The award recognizes years of hard work, and is particularly rewarding for the JS2S team, which is in only its second year at RMCA.
“It’s a big family outside of the school,” added Kettinger, who herself, is part of a military family. “We’re all cheering for each other no matter who wins. Honestly, it’s just showing that this program works and it’s doing a benefit for the students who need it the most.”
Beyond serving as a student-led welcoming team, the 60 learners who make up the S2S group also organize community service events while celebrating military connected students throughout the year. Part of their mission is to honor current and former servicemen and women. These efforts translate into Veterans Day ceremonies at RMCA and have established a working partnership with the Honor Flight of Colorado. Through this collaboration, S2S team member Ava Smith, as a sixth-grader, escorted local veterans to Washington D.C. to visit our country’s national monuments to military service.
“I feel we could go even further with what we already have done,” Cole said of the award. “It was really cool to know I was a part of that, and I know I had great people around me. It was a really good feeling.”
Their work will continue through the month of April, which is designated the Month of the Military Child. The team organized a Purple Up day, encouraging students, staff and families to wear purple in recognition of military connected students. They will learn from other S2S groups around D49 like the Falcon High chapter, which serves as a mentor team to younger groups.
At the end of the day, they explained, the mission is the new student. “I absolutely love helping people, meeting new people,” Ava said. “I think it’s important, especially for military families.”
Those who find themselves as newcomers to D49 and RMCA will quickly find a friend in a grey t-shirt with a purple logo.