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Roaring Fork High holds second annual Girls’ Summit

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By Kayla Henley
Sopris Sun Correspondent 

While a blizzard buffeted Carbondale on the evening of Jan. 25, Roaring Fork High School art teachers Leslie Keery and Cathleen McCourt, as well as students in the Girls’ Summit Club, greeted approximately 30 girls of various grades as well as three quarters of the female staff of RFHS in front of the warm fireplace at the Orchard Church for the annual Girls’ Summit. 
This is the second year RFHS has hosted this inspiring event, which features various workshops and resources that promote healthy lifestyles among women. This year included a yoga workshop led by yoga instructor Emily Hightower, and a self-defense workshop led by Karen Bradshaw of Rising Crane Training Center in Carbondale. Students and staff met both lessons with great enthusiasm. 
There were also a variety of workshop tables scattered about the room girls could approach individually. One was a nutrition stand, hosted by nutritionist Marcey Robinson of Achieve Health in Performance in Basalt. Another was a do TERRA essential oils stand hosted by Wellness Advocate Janelle Parrington. Girls this year also started a new tradition called a Fashion Upcycle, where attendees brought old or outgrown clothes and displayed them in a thrift-store style for everyone to peruse. The exchange was a success and nearly everyone walked out with a new scarf or sweater.  
After an appetizing and healthy dinner of various soups and salads, the girls gathered near the stage for the final event: a panel featuring Dr. Lisa Fitzwilliams, a chiropractic nutritionist in Carbondale; Stacey Bernot, former mayor of Carbondale; Caroline Williams, a college counselor; Dr. Andrea Pazdera, mental health counselor at RFHS; Maura Masters, editor of Alice magazine (; and moderated by yours truly, current staff member as well as former student of RFHS, and recent college graduate. 
The panel’s theme focused on stress and the importance of forming healthy habits, particularly for teenagers on the cusp of adulthood. One student asked how to know the difference between pushing oneself in a healthy way to manage a busy schedule, and being too hard on oneself that could lead to health problems. Another inquired how to find support on college campuses for stress when they’re on their own, and what things one could do to lessen stress. 
Answers suggested by the panel were getting enough sleep; practicing good sleep hygiene (primarily staying away from screens before going to bed), and knowing one’s limits. Math teacher Katie McCullugh, as well as Pazdera, also emphasized the importance of going to teachers for help and forming those connections that could be beneficial down the road. 
The night concluded with roasting s’mores in the grand fireplace and enjoying the sense of newfound camaraderie among one another. 
Senior Tavia Teitler, a member of the Girls’ Summit Club at RFHS, articulated the importance of such an event because “girls have a tendency to compete with each other rather than support each other, and focus on differences.” Maeve O’Donnell Pax, also a senior who started the club with two other graduates, agreed with Teitler, “We easily get caught up in petty things, and things that make us unhappy and make creating true relationships harder.” Teitler concluded how through events such as these, those differences and petty worries disappear. 
It wasn’t just the students who felt the unifying effects of the summit; staff also reflected on the evening’s events: “You get to connect with students in a way that doesn’t happen in the school day,” RFHS counselor Kelly Donnelly observed. 
Kelsie Goodman, vice principal at RFHS noted the importance not only of this singular event, but also the positive reverberations it creates among girls: “This is pretty unique. We hope it translates into real life progress, that’s the highest goal we’ve gotten to see. It’s the girls that shine, it’s the power from within, and that’s what makes it special.” 
It wasn’t just the valuable information women departed with, but also the strong sense of unification and acceptance the simple act of sharing common experiences with one another generated. As Goodman warmly summarized, “If this event has taught me anything, it is that we’re not in it alone.” 

Published in The Sopris Sun on Feb. 2, 2017. 

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