Youth Leader Spotlight - Seminar Class at BCMS

Posted on August 01, 2017

Eagle River Youth Coalition Class CAN be fun!

Back to school season is right around the corner and while there is much sentiment that everyone loves summer, for some youth, they are excited to return to school and embrace the fun variety of classes that allow them to pursue their many interests. At the Eagle River Youth Coalition, we love this time of year as we start gearing up programs and efforts that increase and celebrate the youth voice.

The next wave of Youth Leader Council members are being onboarded, prevention programs are being coordinated with schools and community partners, and youth advisors are working on projects that will create a lasting difference. We also get to celebrate the youth of our community at the annual Valley Tastings event on September 9th where we will be honoring three outstanding young people with this year’s youth awards. These awards are selected from community member nominations and we encourage you to submit a nomination today.

ERYC is also dedicated to celebrating and raising the youth voice to make sure decisions that are made about them are made with their input. Over the course of the summer, ERYC has been able to engage youth advisors who have presented at statewide conferences, informed community message campaigns, and supported community-wide prevention planning efforts. We asked one of our involved youth, Britney Chavez, to share her thoughts on how her peers are getting involved and making a difference in the community. Britney wrote the following snapshot on her 2016-2017 leadership middle school elective. This very class brought Britney to ERYC as she was looking for a way to be a part of nonprofit services throughout the community, helping people to live better lives. Britney writes:

Every school year new electives are offered to entice students. Out of the large variety, one specifically brought inspriration to a group of 7th grade students this past year at Berry Creek Middle School. As class forms were being filled out, only a couple of kids decided to mark off the "Seminar" box. They didn't know it yet, but they were in for a treat. A glance from the outside wouldn't tell you much, but one step in and you'll see what Seminar is truly about.

The 7th grade Seminar can be best described as a research project based class taught by language arts teacher Francine Gustafson. Projects ranged from making short films to coding and research projects. The options were unending. But, what set the class apart was the space that surrounded the students and the freedom to create anything they wanted. There was no class like this one. Fellow student, Eliott Jarnot, shared, "My favorite part about Seminar is definitely the people. So many different styles and personalities come together to make something great. Everybody supports each other, which ends up making an absolutely amazing atmosphere to work in." Also, Karol Loera, a previous Seminar student shared, "I loved being able to have the freedom to research anything of my choice and express my creativity through different projects with my classmate's support."

The class didn't have a strict curriculum but one that fit all students. Everyone had individual paces and took different steps towards their project paths. The environment of the class gave the students the chance to look into any project, see if it was for them, or move onto something different. Seminar was flexible and supportive of every project. As projects were completed, students would give a presentation and the class would provide feedback for future projects. Previous student Lara Melgarejo said, "I enjoyed seeing the work of my classmates summed up during their presentations and experiencing what they learned. It was a good way to learn more about our classmates."

In between long classes and hard work Seminar provided the opportunity to allow students have fun. From organizing field trips to exploring around the school, Seminar students knew how to switch the class up for fun and bond over these experiences. Ms. Gustafson's support was never ending.

Though Seminar was a small class, kids outside of the class had their own ideas and perspectives on Seminar. Kimberly Gardea shared, "I think Seminar is for people who want to work on things they like even if it means extra work." Melanie Rodriguez observed seminar as "a place where you could do more class work." For me, it was really a place where I could work on something I was passionate about. I think my classmates would agree with me.

Outstanding is the word to use when describing these 12 and 13 year old kids.Their creativity during this whole experience is really something amazing to witness. Their creative minds built Lego robots, created a hovercraft to float around the school halls and learned about schizophrenia on a deeper level. That is only the tip of the iceberg; Seminar kids are pretty stunning.

Not only did this class create a safe place, but created a trustworthy group of people that will help each other out through the times middle school presents.

Britney Chavez is a middle school intern at the Eagle River Youth Coalition (ERYC), a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. ERYC tackles three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth including: substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness & mental health promotion and academic achievement. In addition to supporting the health and well-being of local young people, ERYC offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit

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Eagle River Youth Coalition - Making Youth a Community Priority
Physical Address: 34520 US Highway 6, C10 | Edwards, CO 81632
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4613 | Edwards, CO 81632
Phone: 970.949.9250 |
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