Gratitude – Year 5

These are letters of gratitude from the students of Year 5 – 2012/2013.

SARAH
I cannot fully express my gratitude for you allowing me to be able to come to The Link School. I have learned more and experienced more than I ever could in a regular high school setting, and had the opportunity to contribute to a small community. One of my favorite experiences this year was in Utah while canyoneering. We repelled 240 feet into a canyon that scared me to death at first! This experience really illustrates my journey coming to Link. At first I was afraid and had to step over a steep edge into nothingness, not knowing what was ahead of me. But as the year went by, I was able to trust the plan that God had for me and know I was in the right place.

I have learned more this year than I could have ever imagined, and not just in academics. I have learned to problem solve, and to love everyone that I live with. It has been incredibly hard at times to keep a balance, especially towards the end of the year, but I know that I am on a journey and still making progress. The amount of opportunity I have been given is incredible. Being able to travel the country and even the world this year has been so eye opening and all the sights I’ve seen have been amazing. I can’t believe how fast its gone and I would like to give my sincere gratitude for your donation to my education.

GEORGE (FROM THE UK)
This year at Link has created lots of opportunities for me and for others for growth and healing. I came to Link having developed multiple challenges in my life that I needed to change. Thanks to the support of others, and in particular the staff, I have made some of the changes I have wanted to make. Through fixing these issues I feel more humble and therefore better prepared to face even more problems in my life.

I have also developed some of my skills outside of schoolwork, and have learnt so many great skills from them. With my Free-ride Mountain Biking, I learnt to really be patient, which came as a surprise in such fast adrenaline filled sport. We have a series of logs on our bike course that I love to ride on. However sometimes I’ll be trying and trying it and for some reason simply cannot do it, so I have to calm myself down and work through it.

Thank you so much for your support and love for the great community we have at Link.

ROCKY
I don’t believe I could ever thank you enough for sponsoring my tuition to go to Link this year. I have had more experiences this year than most any public-school student might have in a lifetime. I have kayaked the Colorado, found a lifetime interest in mountain biking, and have grown as a person more than I could have ever grown at a generic public school.

I came to Link not having a very good concept of integrity; I was a person who would lie to get myself out of doing things. I struggled with this for a part of the year, but now I have obtained a sense of integrity that I am proud to have. I have made friendships at Link that will probably last for years to come even after I go to college. This was by far the best school year of my life; having more of a hands-on basis to the core of the school which has helped me to touch the stars after I had been reaching for them for so long.

SAM
Thank you so much for the money you put forward for my education. In this year I have done so many things that I never would have dreamed of doing a year ago. I managed to survive without a shower every day. I have peaked mountains and traveled to a completely different country and got submersed in the culture. I have learned all of the technical skills needed in mountain biking. I have learned how to design and build and entire addition to a building. I have learned how to communicate with others without causing conflict. I have also learned how to go to someone and work through a problem with them. I have also, on the most recent trip we took, learned how to take a moment and look back on the year and self evaluate all the things that I need to change and actually create a plan to address each of those things.

The trip/activity that had the greatest impact on me was, in fact, the most recent trip we took. We went kayaking for 5 days and each learned how to guide an inflatable kayak, along with hard-shell kayaks, and a big support raft. Although going through the process of learning all the things one needs to know when kayaking a white water river taught me a lot, what had the greatest impact on that trip was the last night.

I was alone by a decent size fire I had built and was journaling beside the fire only using the light from the fire to write. And as I wrote I looked back on the year at all of the growth that has been present and realized that without this year at Link I would have never turned into the person I am today. I realized how much I would miss the sense of family and community that I had found with these amazing people at Link. I noticed just how beautiful and amazing the backcountry really is. I recognized how nature is there for you and calms you in times of stress. But nature also teaches lessons of respect and courage. I realized that I fell in love with the land and the people I was with. I found a sense of home that I had never felt before. I wrote on until I couldn’t physically write any more, I felt that once I stopped writing I would loose it all. But then I realized that I had to look forward to the new year coming and I knew that part of the moving on and truly appreciating what I had gotten to experience this year was thanking those that made it all possible. So I thank you with all I have for giving me this opportunity for growth, for adventure, for finding a true sense of home.
Sincerely,

CASSIE
This year I arrived at Link after Christmas break and went to Baja, Mexico three days later. This was amazing. I had never dreamed of going out of the country with my best friends. It was phenomenal because going from being at a school that was so uniformed and mundane to going to a school so different, unique, and close-knit was an experience I will never forget.

One thing that really showed me how extraordinary of a school this is, is when we worked at an orphanage called Hogar Del Nino (Home of the Child). I had always wanted to help people but I did not know where to start. The kids we got to work with in Mexico at the orphanage were some of the sweetest and most innocent children I have ever had the opportunity to work with. Not only did I speak French, but I had never even thought of learning Spanish before. I think these kids taught me as much about their language as I tried to teach them about English. The thing was, it didn’t matter what language we were speaking. It was out of the goodness of the children’s heart that they completely took us in.

This year at Link has been so important to my growth and well being. It gave new meaning to quotes I had heard a million times before such as a popular quote from Lilo and Stitch where it clearly states “Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten”. This quote used to just be a silly thing that I could say. Now, it means so much more. These amazing, beautiful people I now call, with full confidence, my family and dearest friends, have taught me so much. They taught me how to have an “ohana,” or family. They taught me how to care and how to love everyone. Most of all they taught me who I really am.

I cannot stress enough how much it means to me to be able to attend The Link School. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t. Thank you, so much.

ALEX
Thank you for the money you have given for me to be able to come to Link. What I have done this year has been a learning opportunity. I have learned how to train a horse things that he should know. I have learned how to get over my fear of heights. – even though that the fear is still there, but I have been using Christian Science to help me through the process. This whole year I have been turning to Christian Science more. Last year I didn’t use it that often. This year I have used it every time there is a problem or something that comes up, like health problems. Also this year I have learned the importance of living in a sustainable way. All the classes that we had have were really helpful in understanding that.

The reason that all these things have affected me is because they are all different ways of learning and growing. The horse training has helped me grow in how to train a horse that has training issues. It has also taught me patience. Before I didn’t have a lot of patience. This year has helped me developed that and learn how useful it is.

Using Christian Science has helped me grow as a person. The reason for that is because I didn’t really believe that a healing could ever happen. Last year I had one big healing that started my curiosity in Christian Science. This year I have had a lot of healings and I have been learning more and more about Christian Science. My big healing this year is when I fell off my horse and sprained my ankle. It hurt a lot and I didn’t know what to do. So I emailed the practitioner and got some ideas. With in a week my ankle was fine I was walking on it and looked like nothing happened. I am really grateful to have the opportunity to come to Link.

JACK
My name is Jack Guthrie and I am from Wichita, Kansas. This is my second year at The Link School and I will graduate this year. The main reason that I wanted to return to Link is that I can flourish and be who I truly am. Another reason that I wanted to return to Link is that I am able to learn better when I am in a class with just a few people so I can get more one-on-one time with teachers.

I have had so much fun this year it would be impossible to count it all, but some of my favorite activities have been rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and especially being able to go snowshoeing. My favorite trip so far this year would have to be the inflatable kayaking trip we just took. Kayaking, or just being on the water, is one of the greatest stress reliefs. It requires all of your attention to do well.

This year I have learned so much. Again it is impossible to tell you everything I have learned this year, but some of the things I have learned are how to captain a double kayak and how to become more independent with my academics.

SUZANNAH
This year has been utterly life changing. Sometimes I find it hard to remember the girl that I was before I came to Link. Everything we have done this year, from backpacking to mountain biking to sea kayaking to simply making friends and learning new things every day, everything has changed me. We canyoneered through slot canyons in Utah. We biked the White Rim Trail – one of the most famous mountain biking trails in the world. We volunteered, sea kayaked, and learned Spanish in Mexico for a month, learning more than I ever could have in a traditional setting. I’ve learned to get along with, love and befriend people I would have never associated with anywhere else. The list is endless.

Before this year, many of the things I have just listed were completely unknown to me. It did not matter to me who my friends were, and adventure was for losers. Now, things are different, I am different. Rather than shying away from strangers, I am excited to meet them, knowing that the knowledge and stories that they hold, to me, is more valuable than anything in the world, and certainly more valuable than my pride. Something I have never done before, such as sea kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, or backpacking is only another opportunity for me to express God in every way possible. Through these experiences, I have found my passion for the outdoors, the environment, and the world. I have also found myself. I know now that wherever I go, and whatever I do, I have the capability to be successful, where as before, I was unsure I could ever succeed in anything. From what I have gained from this year at The Link School, I am ready to face the world as a new woman, and to give my all to the world in an attempt to spread the goodness I have received here with everyone. I would like to thank you for everything you have done to make this year possible for me.

TATYANA
Thank you for providing money toward my learning experience. For the half a year that I have been at Link I have been able to improve my grades; go to Utah for a whole week backpacking, rock climbing, hiking in slot canyons, and I got to rappel into a 240-foot deep canyon. I also had a chance to go on a river trip for 5 days. I learned how to row in a raft and also to guide an inflatable kayak. Plus some small trips like going to Crestone, Colorado to learn about sustainable living and how sustainable framing and housing works.

These few weeks that I have been at Link have been a wonderful learning experience. Every day has been a new adventure in which I always learn something new. Some of it has been challenging like when I was in Utah crack rock climbing. That took a lot of skill and upper body strength, which I thought I didn’t have, but my classmates cheered me on and I made it to the top.

There were also activities on that trip that were more learning experiences, like when hiking in a slot canyon I learned how to check the weather and how to stem my way over massive puddles, or how to stem my way out if it looked like it was going to rain. Some trips were more of a learning experience like going to Crestone. In Crestone I learned how to make houses that look nice but only cost twelve thousand dollars and how to grow plants to eat and how to use my own waste to fertilize the soil. All these experiences have been a super fun way for me to learn and grow.
Thank you again so much for sponsoring me, because of your money you have helped me discover a fun way to learn.

ASTRID
Thank you for your contribution to my education. I really appreciate it. Throughout this year I have experienced a lot of new things. For example, many of the activities that we have done are things that I now really enjoy. Before this school year, I did not really think much about outdoor activities and sports/hobbies, but this year my eyes have been opened. My view on academics has changed, as well.

Right from the beginning we started off strong with our five-day backpacking trip, where everyone bonded and learned more about each other. After that we biked the White Rim in Utah, followed by a climbing and field trip to New Mexico for our Immigration Issues class. The most memorable trip that we had was to Baja, Mexico. We got to practice our Spanish, go sea kayaking, and learn more about a different culture, different from the one that we were brought up in. In March, students from the Principia High School came out to Link and participated in our winter skills program. Last month we went to Utah again for slot canyoneering, climbing, and backpacking in the snow. Most recently we went to Crestone, Colorado to learn about sustainability and what that means. Today, we got back from our first river trip down the Colorado River. All of these trips along with the amazing staff here, have changed my mind about school.

Before this year, I did well in school, but was never really curious about anything. This year I have become more curious about everything. My mind has been opened to all of the things the world has to offer. I have found things that I love, for example, climbing. I had done some climbing in the past, but never really thought much about it. Now I climb as much as I can because I love the physical and mental challenges that it presents me with. This is all because of you, and I am deeply grateful for what you contributed. Thank you.

TAILOR
My name is Tailor Boucher, and I would like to personally thank you for generously helping me pay for school. Without your help, I would have missed out on so many life-changing opportunities. The Link School has produced such growth from me that it’s hard take in. In my first two years of high school before Link, sports didn’t help me grow, because I did not enjoy the company of my teammates and I was not appreciated. I loved outdoor activities, but could never do them because of my busy schedule. I always wished I could learn a language, but I was never motivated enough, and the language program was less than par. I did not see myself as a leader, a poignant speaker, a cook, a hiker, a skier, a climber, a long distance runner, or a writer.

Now, I feel confident that I express all of these attributes. Here at Link, I learned how to ski and rock climb, I found a love for backpacking, and I ran a 25 mile trail race here in Buena Vista. I was the third person under the age of 20 to finish. Given the sports atmosphere at my old school, I would have never had the confidence to strive for such a goal as running a race one mile short of a marathon. The language program is everything I could ever dream! I have learned more Spanish in this year than I have learned in my entire life. I now have confidence in the possibility of learning a second language, which has been a lifelong dream of mine.

I have always wished to be a moving speaker, to be able to clearly say things in a way that made people listen. I was given my chance at the WorldBlu convention on democracy in Denver. I was asked to be a part of a panel discussion on the future of education. I will never forget that moment. People that I have never met before complimented me on how clearly and beautifully I spoke.

I didn’t have much confidence in myself as a writer before I came to Link, but while on our international expedition to Mexico, I was asked to write an article for the Journal del Pacifico. Through many drafts and editing, my piece was published this spring, which make me a published author. This is something that I could never see happening in my wildest dreams.

Through this amazing school that you made open to me, I have achieved feats that I never saw myself achieving. I have made international internship connections, gained confidence in my abilities as a speaker, became a published author, ran a 25 mile trail race, and feel happier as a person. I will hold the experiences from Link forever; they have shaped my life in such a positive way. Thank you so much. I cannot express the deep gratitude I have to you. You have helped shape my life.

KEVIN
I feel an incredible sense of gratitude for the opportunity you have given me over this last semester. I never really enjoyed being at school before, because for several years I haven’t cared about my academics at all, and to have an opportunity to come to The Link School, I have begun to truly enjoy being in school. So much of that I attribute to the way that I have been pulled right into the community and given love and respect in a way that I had never felt before. I came from a school where I had a few close friends and a few teachers who I really liked, and I enjoyed that, but overall there was a lack of respect that was severely detrimental to my well being. This year I nearly left school entirely after my first semester. But then I came to Link, and I was given the opportunity to grow every day, whether that growth came as being on time to classes and meetings and working on assignments I didn’t enjoy, or working on a new rock climb and snowboarding on a Friday afternoon. It took a big shift for me, and it took a lot to buy into Link, but when I did, I found myself happy to go to class and ready to jump into new challenges with a desire to learn. I don’t know what the next year of my life has in store for me, I hope to be returning to Link as a senior and finishing out my high school experience in a community that has helped me grow so very much in just a few short months, but I’m not sure. What I am sure of though is that I have been given an opportunity that has changed the nature of who I am for the better, and I have built friendships I will hold onto for the rest of my life, and I have been able to let go of many fears which had plagued me for years. I know that whatever the future holds for me, I will always have the last four months here at Link, and I will be able to draw on what I have learned for the rest of my life.

I think that my semester here has been epitomized by a climb I did just a few weeks ago. I have been climbing 5.9 to 5.10 fairly solidly this semester, but I decided that I was ready to really jump head first out of my comfort zone and attempt a 5.11 route—something I had no idea whether or not I would be able to succeed at—but I did it. I started the climb, and immediately fell off. And I could have stopped there and told myself that it was far too hard for me to climb, but I didn’t. I got back on the wall, and fell again. I was fighting a battle against the rock, specifically a single move on the climb that I just couldn’t seem to make, but I kept going. Every single time I went for that move and I missed, I would fall and add another scrape to the collection I was making on my body, but I pushed through. I realized that fighting against the rock wouldn’t get me through the climb, but instead, I had to look at the climb, and I had to respect the climb, and I had to face the fear of falling. I had to realize that the climb wasn’t impossible, it was just incredibly tough. The next time I got on the wall I pushed straight through the move that was so hard for me, and I made my way all the way to the top. That was the only thing I had to do. It’s just what I had to do at Link this semester. I fought my way through the beginning of the semester, not recognizing that I was fighting to my own detriment, and there was no way for me to succeed if I turned the year into a battle. Then there was a point where I stepped back and woke up. I realized that I needed to approach the rest of the year with grace and face my fear of failing along with the numerous other fears I was facing. That was my turning point. I gained more from the experience since I ended the fight than I had in the many experiences I have been a part of before. I was given the opportunity to free myself from so much worry, and enjoy the view as I climbed up the remainder of the semester. I don’t know where I would be without the opportunity to have this experience, because it has been so shaping, and there has been so much good that has come from it.

I don’t fully know how to thank you for giving me the opportunity to have this last semester of school, but I want to leave you by saying that these last four months have affected me more than the last sixteen and a half years of my life. I have grown so much, and learned so much about who I am, and accepting and loving that person, that I wasn’t getting in my previous environments, and now that I have gotten it, I will never let go of what I have gained. Thank you. Thank you for giving what you have so that I could have this experience, and so the other students in the Link community could share this experience with me. Thank you.