Steamboat Springs High School students Blake Kelly and Chelsea Marie work on computers at Colorado Student Care located on the Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs. The education center is a community-driven project directed at high school students who hope to pursue higher education.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs High School students Blake Kelly and Chelsea Marie work on computers at Colorado Student Care located on the Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs. The education center is a community-driven project directed at high school students who hope to pursue higher education.

Colorado Student Care provides paths to post-secondary options in Steamboat

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George Avgares, director of Colorado Student Care, works with student Matt O’Donnell at the center’s offices on the campus of Colorado Mountain College. Avgares said his program has worked with 35 families, including 17 students at the Steamboat Springs office.

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High school student Matt O'Donnell works at Colorado Student Care. The educational center is a community driven project directed at high school students who hope to pursue higher education.

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For more information about Colorado Student Care, including the Steamboat Learning Center, visit www.coloradostudentcare.org.

— Steamboat Springs High School senior Matt O’Donnell knew he wanted to attend college, but he didn’t know anything about the application process that would determine where he might end up.

That has changed.

On Thursday, O’Donnell was busy combining application essays, ACT scores and letters of recommendation to send to Colorado State University-Pueblo, Fort Lewis College and Mesa State College.

O’Donnell said he’s in a position to apply to those schools because he attended Colorado Student Care’s Steamboat Learning Center since October.

Colorado Student Care, which operates in Room 309 at Bogue Hall on Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus, prepares students for post-secondary education by offering services that include test preparation, tutoring and scholarship search assistance.

“Before this program, I was lost,” O’Donnell said. “I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what I was doing. Now, I have a better guideline.”

George Avgares, a Moffat County High School graduate, started Colorado Student Care in April 2009 in Craig. He helped start a similar business in Las Vegas called Nevada Student Care, which served about 1,000 students by the time he left in 2006 to move back to Northwest Colorado.

Since opening the Craig Learning Center, Avgares said he has worked with 35 families. He has worked with 17 students from Steamboat Springs High School, Hayden High School and The Lowell Whiteman School since opening the Steamboat Learning Center in September.

“I feel our growth is a testament to the need we’re fulfilling,” he said. “I know this program will be successful here because education is a priority in the community.”

Avgares describes Colorado Student Care, a registered nonprofit organization, as offering a “menu of services a la carte.” He said the college preparation services are by appointment only, and students can access whatever they need in one-hour increments after school. Avgares said the program can be customized to meet each student’s needs.

For example, Steamboat Springs High School juniors Chelsea Marie and Blake Kelly said they were preparing for the ACT test, but not in the traditional sense.

“The work that we’re doing here is different from the work we’re doing in school,” Marie said. “In school, it’s actual problems and here it’s how the ACT works and what to look out for.”

Kelly said he feels like he’s in a better position to succeed on the ACT and SAT, which he’ll take in spring.

“I feel even people who are prepared could learn a lot from this program,” he said.

Kelly’s father, Brian, a Steam­boat Springs School Board member, said so far things are going great with his son.

Brian Kelly said his son’s three hours per week with Colorado Student Care are in addition to the counseling services he gets in school.

“This is another part of counseling, but the district has its counselors so busy with day-to-day stuff,” he said.

Avgares said the intention of Colorado Student Care is to be a complement to school counselors.

The program costs $129 per month or $1,395 per year. Avgares said that provides unlimited access to services, with the exception of tutoring, which requires Colorado Student Care to hire teachers to work with students.

He said the program also provides services to three students for free and would like to partner with other organizations to provide assistance to more low-income and at-risk students.

O’Donnell is excited about the possibilities, which seemed limited before he started working with Colorado Student Care.

“This opened my eyes,” he said. “There’s not one path to choose. There are many. They’re all different.”

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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