Todd Musselman sings and plays guitar as eighth-grade students and teachers dance Tuesday at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus. The students attended a number of workshops meant to prepare them for the transition to high school.

Photo by Scott Franz

Todd Musselman sings and plays guitar as eighth-grade students and teachers dance Tuesday at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus. The students attended a number of workshops meant to prepare them for the transition to high school.

Routt County 8th-graders look forward to new campus, responsibilities

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— Eighth-grade boys and girls from across Routt County learned Tuesday that they have a lot of important choices to make during the next four years.

Two events in Steamboat Springs paired the students with professionals who spent hours getting them excited about their futures.

Waiting outside The Steamboat Grand with her classmates, Shiloh Rozell said she got some great advice at the Girls to Women event held inside.

“Someone told me if you want a career, make sure you’re excited about it,” the Soroco Middle School eighth-grader said. “Make sure it really makes your heart pound.”

She said she felt that excitement looking at photos taken in Uganda of Come, Let’s Dance volunteers working with young children.

“They made me happy,” Shiloh said.

Shiloh and 139 eighth-grade girls from across Routt County attended the program that has been put on for 14 years.

“Change can be scary,” event Chairwoman Heidi Berend said about the girls’ impending transition to high school. “Instead of fearing it, we want these girls to be excited and look at it as an amazing opportunity.”

As the girls learned about career opportunities and the transition to high school at the Grand, 110 of Routt County’s eighth-grade boys were doing the same thing inside the gymnasium at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus.

“It’s been kind of inspirational,” Steamboat Springs Middle School student Skyler Nelson said after he spent the afternoon listening to motivational speakers and business professionals. He added that the event, titled The Journey Ahead, calmed some of the nerves he had about stepping into a new campus next school year.

“I’m a little bit nervous, but I think everything the schools are doing have helped,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a new experience and being the youngest on campus again.”

Speakers told students not to bully and to avoid some of the temptations that can arise on the new campus.

“Today, the students get to look at the road ahead,” event organizer Mary Jenkins said as the eighth-graders broke up into smaller groups to listen to lectures. “It’s a big transition year for them. They get to look at themselves, look at each other and start thinking about the next four years.”

Jenkins and parent Terin Petersen said they were hiking last year when they thought the middle school boys needed an event like the one they organized Tuesday. Last year’s The Journey Ahead was the inaugural event for the boys.

“We were upset they were watching movies and playing handball while the girls went to their event,” Jenkins joked. “It was a huge success, so we are dedicated to keep things going. We feel what we do is important and can make a difference in these eighth-graders’ lives.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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