ALAMOSA — On Tuesday, November 20, students from Antonito High School and Sanford High School met together as a team at Adams State University to develop a plan to build stronger, more positive relationships between the two schools and communities and encourage good sportsmanship at all sporting events.
Team members from Sanford were: Brett Crowther, Ashley Miller, Brittany Rogers, Miles Caldon, Alexis Duran, Anastasia Mathes, JT DePriest, and Ty Koenig, with Tami Valentine as the sponsor.
Students from Antonito included: Isaiah Garcia, Danae Sanchez, Miranda Sandoval, Chris Romero, Maira Rodriguez, Kayla Klinger, Estella Sandoval, and Jeff Mondragon, with Angela Montoya and Clint Huffaker as sponsors.
Luke Yoder and Joe Green from the Center For Restorative Programs facilitated the leadership training.
The team spent the morning working through the low ropes course and engaging in trust-building activities with guidance from Adams State facilitators. At lunch, students from both schools shared tables and began to discuss the issues that cause friction between the two schools. They then reconvened for an afternoon of honest discussion and strategic planning as a team.
Together, the team concluded that there are many events that have taken place in the past that have led to animosity between the two communities. There was a general consensus that building good relationships is far more important than holding grudges, and they want to find an effective way to make this point, especially to the adults in the communities.
Also, the team felt that stereotypes about different races, religions, and cultures have a significant impact on the relationships between the two schools. As they discussed the commonalities of the two schools, they began to see that they have common ground to stand on, and that differences are better celebrated then derogated. The team also agreed that coaches play an important role in making positive changes.
The day ended with the team agreeing that they will immediately return to their schools as examples of the change they want to see in the communities. They also created a task list, with different team members (from both schools) assigned to each task.
Some examples of the tasks are: giving a presentation about sportsmanship to all coaches, of all sports, in each school; creating a team mission statement handout for the Antonito-Sanford basketball game; giving a sportsmanship presentation to the student body of each school; and doing a service-project in the county.
The students reacted very positively to the day.
Chris Romero of Antonito said, “I thought it was pretty cool because for the first time the two schools actually put in effort to solve the friction between us.”
Alexis Duran of Sanford agrees. She commented, “It was a good experience. It was cool to come together and realize that we aren’t that different after all.”
Estella Sandoval from Antonito said, “I am happy that Antonito and Sanford were willing to put aside previous differences and come together and try to resolve our conflict. I was proud of the amount of cooperation each school put forth.”
Luke Yoder emphasized the power that youth have to make positive changes in the world around them; their ability to do so is much greater when the community gives them the support they need.
The team has planned several more meetings, and the members are looking forward to working together again. Administrators from both schools believe that this is a step in the right direction, and that the students will do a great job in leading out. Now, the hope is that members of the two schools and communities will follow the example of this team and work together to build positive relationships.