When I reflect on the years I have spent in the halls of Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School (CCPS) and I wonder how my charter school helped me succeed, I don't owe it to the sleepless nights, or the months spent creating the Extended Essay for the International Baccalaureate program. What comes to mind is the school's motto, ‘preparing the whole child for the whole world.’ CCPS, a charter school that utilizes the Paideia method and is the first school in New Mexico to offer the International Baccalaureate program, focuses on creating caring, inquisitive, knowledgeable, learning activists that are prepared and raring to make an impact on the world. But what makes CCPS the best school in New Mexico, is only in part due to the program that we offer. CCPS successfully, ‘prepares the whole child for the whole world’ by creating a community that is like nothing I have experienced before, and I fear that I will never be able to again.
The CCPS community starts with the dedicated administration, namely our IB coordinator and Administrator. These two women are powerhouses, and have helped every student at one point or another get through either an academic question, or a personal crisis with a bit of tough love and a helping hand. They are the people that you feel comfortable to go to about anything. They know everyone's name and make an effort to deeply know all of the students who go through their doors in order to create a better environment for them. Many times they have made better choices for my academic career than I have. The second component to the community are the teachers, who lead their classrooms with principle and care, pushing us to perform. They teach with open doors, aware of how hard this program is and are there to nurture every last student. Many times I have gone to my teachers, in tears, questioning my place at the school, and they have taken the time to sit down with me and dig out the cause of my worry and angst, no matter how long it takes. Because of my Math teacher, I am more of a risk taker and able to ask ‘I don't get this’. Because of my History teacher, I am more understanding. In my teachers there are leaders, friends, activists, comedians, learners, and because of the intimate community that there is at CCPS, I am fortunate enough to see every side of them. But finally, the type of student that meanders the circular halls of the school and sits under the cottonwood trees for lunch are what make this school a dependable, loving, supportive community that allow everyone to succeed. CCPS is full of ardent learners that are passionate about knowledge, education, and truth. They have brains to be rivaled with and hearts that are too big for their chests. We have been able to grow up together since 6th grade and finish the 12th grade year together. I am constantly amazed by the thoughts, care, and admiration we all have for each other. Because of the people that make up CCPS, I am in an atmosphere that fostered my personal growth in every way possible, and had endless love and support from the people around me. These people believed in me and were there for me to struggle with, to succeed with, and to graduate with.
At the Senior good-bye party, several people stood up and gave speeches and the most frequently used word to describe our school was a family. We have laughed, cried, slept, not-slept, and sweated together. This is what gave me the tools to succeed. The people at this school shaped my character and pushed me to be the best lifelong learner I could be.
I firmly believe that there are no words to describe the greatness of this school, it is my place of solace and a place that I am sad beyond word to leave. But, I owe my future (and current) success to the people and atmosphere that only CCPS offers. Yes, the IB program helped prepare me for college and pushed me to my fullest length, but without the family that Cottonwood Classical Prep is, my whole being would not be prepared for the whole world.