By Megan Bean

As a staff member of Alpine Valley Academy, I’ve been able to see many kids start at the school, and it’s always  interesting to see how they respond to this new, strange environment. At a typical public school, someone would know how to get going with what they are supposed to do, which is to go to their classes. However, a new student at a public school may struggle with figuring out where they belong in the community of the student body. They might take years to find their place, or maybe they feel like they had never found it.

Such is not the case here at Alpine Valley Academy. With each and every child that comes here, they find their place in our community. They not only find friends, but find that they are welcomed and appreciated by everyone here. One of our 7-year-old students was found occasionally playing with others around his age, but more often was socializing with everyone, and getting involved in the young teen’s activities. 

There is one story of a student that is my favorite, though. When they started at the school, they were very awkward in their interactions with others. It was obvious that they were trying to be likeable, but were not super confident in themselves. For a few weeks things went on like this. I let it be, and knew that they’d be fine in the end. I didn’t really pay attention to how this student was progressing in their socialization for some time. But about 4 months later, I noticed something. They had become good friends with a bunch of the students. So I watched for a bit, and realized how different their interactions had become. They were very confident with themselves, and all the awkwardness had gone away. They seemed to be happy with saying what they wanted to say, and didn’t feel a need to defend anything they said. I even noticed that they were hardly stuttering anymore. I was honestly shocked by how much of a change had occurred over the last few months.

Things like that are my favorite here at AVA. It’s amazing how everyone here finds a place for themselves amongst this community. Things like that just don’t happen at your typical public school. That even though we are all so vastly different in our interests and life pursuits, we all find that we belong in this community, and are a valued member of it. With that, we are shown that we are worthwhile people, who can be themselves, and still add a lot to our environment and those around us. It is a natural consequence of a place where we are free to follow ourselves.

Published February 1, 2021


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