Dear Teachers, Staff, Families, and Community Members:
This message includes an update on an important new process: branding the Gunnison Watershed School District (GWSD), which includes the schools in Gunnison and Crested Butte.
Key messages within this update (additional detail below):
- We are developing a formal brand for our district and schools, to help attract more resources to our classrooms by strengthening our stories of success
- We are about halfway through the project, having just completed a series of six focus groups and 11 interviews with teachers, staff, parents and community members
- There is still an opportunity for you to participate! Survey link below.
What is a brand, and why are we working on ours?
“Brand” means a lot of things to a lot of people, but it’s more than just a logo. Brand is synonymous with reputation — the words, ideas, images and emotions that come to mind for someone when they think of an organization, product, or company. In that sense, GWSD already has a brand! There are ways in which our families, teachers and others think of us today.
What this effort is about, then, is taking a proactive approach to shaping those associations. We know that the most successful organizations are incredibly thoughtful about how their brand is presented. They carefully choose the words, symbols, colors, and images that represent what makes them authentically unique, as well as how they interact with their stakeholders or customers.
Through this branding effort, we are making choices to help ensure that how we are perceived is true to who we actually are and what makes us great. We want to be sure that everyone who matters to our students’ success knows exactly what we believe, what we do, and why that is important. By sharing our story with our stakeholders in more compelling ways, we will strengthen support for our students and our schools.
How a brand is developed, and where we are in our process
There are four phases in our branding project: discovery, research, messaging and visual identity. Each one of them is grounded in strategic thinking. It can be helpful to imagine these phases as a funnel that is wide at the top and narrows toward the bottom.
In the beginning of the process, we’ve cast a very wide net. In the discovery phase, our branding partner reviewed piles of documentation and led district leaders through an in-depth series of creative exercises — all aimed at understanding who we are and our vision for how we want to be perceived. The next phase focused on research, and included strategic conversations with families, teachers, staff, Board members, and community members to glean representative perspectives on what makes our schools special. This exploration included six focus groups and 11 key person interviews involving more than 50 stakeholders.
Our research will include one final step. We heard from many people who couldn’t attend a focus group but wanted to contribute. So, we asked our branding partner to adapt some of the focus-group questions into a brief survey. Click here to complete a four-minute survey and tell us what you think!
As we move through the next phases, we will synthesize what we learned in discovery and research into unifying themes that represent what we heard from our community and help us put our best foot forward. Our branding partner will develop new messages and craft visual symbols (logos, colors, fonts) that we will put into place on our website, email communications, flyers, etc. Our aim is to develop messages and graphic elements that bring us together — helping to convey that the schools in Gunnison and Crested Butte are all part of the same district — and prepare us to share a consistent and compelling story with our stakeholders.
Who is involved in branding, and how decisions will be made
There are three important partners in our process — our community (that’s you!), district staff, and our branding agency.
We selected our branding agency, Springboard Communications, in large part because they specialize in working with education organizations and have specific experience shaping brands for schools and school districts, both in the Colorado mountains and on the front range.
Our community has been and will be involved through every step in this process. In addition to wide participation in the discovery and research phases, a Branding Advisory Committee made up of parents, teachers, and community members will provide feedback on the creative concepts that are developed. Rather than basing their feedback on their personal preferences, the committee will be asked to evaluate potential messages and visual components against everything we learned in the discovery and research phases. In other words, does a potential tagline or logo reflect what the community said about what makes our schools great?
Based on the recommendations from Springboard and feedback from the advisory committee, district staff will select the final messages and graphic elements to be adopted. Again, this will be a strategic decision — considering who we authentically are and how we want to be regarded by our stakeholders, and choosing the best possible representation of our schools and district.
Timeline and Next Steps
Our branding project will conclude in the spring, and we will share additional updates with you in the New Year.
Thank you –
Leslie Nichols, EdD │ Superintendent | Gunnison Watershed School District | 800 North Boulevard, Gunnison, Colorado 81230 | office 970 641 7760 | www.gunnisonschools.net | pronouns: she/her/hers
- CBMR does not have a Choice Pass purchase deadline for ski passes. As of 12/2/19 you have to go in person to purchase your child’s ski pass and sign the waiver; they are no longer taking payments over the phone. Ski passes are $135 plus tax and are CBMR winter access only.
January Parent Education:
- January 23rd – Fred Field, 6-8pm
- January 28th – Crested Butte Community School, 6-8pm
- RSVP to email@example.com
How to Have Trusted Adult Conversations about JUULs, Electronic Cigarettes, Nicotine and Vaping – This workshop will summarize national, state and local data, trends, and culture of youth use for electronic nicotine devices, e-cigarettes, and vaping. Explain the policies, laws, and health effects related to vaping. Use trusted adult principles to have conversations with young people the use of electronic nicotine devices, e-cigarettes, and vaping. Educate on community resources that support youth prevention and cessation. If you attended last year there will be some repetition with the trusted adult portion but new data, trends, and health effects will the shared. Youth attendance is not recommended. This presentation is open to all parents, community members, coaches, and anyone who works with youth. Please, share widely. Dinner is provided!
Understanding Pain – Join Dr. Gloria Beim, our local orthopedic surgeon, to learn more about injuries, treating pain, and non-opioid treatment for injury recovery. Dinner is included.
- January 30th – Ice Lab, Gunnison, 6-8pm
- RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Backcountry Ski Days – For youth who have completed the Avalanche Safety Course or an AIARE course in the past there is the opportunity to do a guided backcountry ski day through Ben Pritchett with Colorado Backcountry. We will meet at 8am to make a plan and look at maps of our terrain from there we will do a backcountry ski tour. You will need to provide your own touring skis or split board and avalanche safety gear. Choice Pass and help pay for gear if needed. It is $30 for the guided day. RSVP to email@example.com to reserve a space!
- March 1st
- March 22nd
Irwin Guides Outdoor Youth Leadership Program
We have the Irwin Guides Outdoor Youth Leadership Program June 13-19. Learn skills and leadership on this seven day and six night river and mountain experience. Open to youth ages 14-18 with the ability to live and work together among peers. Demonstration of motivation, leadership experience, and interest in the outdoors. Adequate fitness for a week of intense outdoor challenges. One letter of recommendation and application due May 11th. $300 for Choice Pass youth and $500 for other youth. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-641-7612 for application and questions.
Grand Traverse team raising funds for Choice Pass!
We are thrilled to announce we have a team skiing the Grand Traverse to raise funds for Choice Pass! The Grand Traverse is a 40-mile ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen. Teams of two race through the night into the early hours of March 29th. Each step, minute, mile, and hour of training will help raise funds for youth scholarships, parent education, and youth programming with the ultimate goal of the community supporting healthy and thriving young people up and down the Gunnison Valley.
Donate today to help us reach our goal of $7,500 by race day 3/29/2020! All donations are tax-deductible.
Track our athletes Matt Estrada and John Hausdoerffer on their training journey through our blog!
Youth Programming Coordinator
Gunnison County Dept. of Juvenile Services
200 E. Virginia Ave, Gunnison Co 81230
Donate to the Choice Pass Component Fund here – http://cfgv.org/choicepass/
By CBCS Students: Caroline Bryndal, Nola Hadley, Havalin Haskell, Samantha Lakoski & Nevada Scales
A sophomore brings vertical hands to his mouth, as though in silent prayer, before lowering his head to breath into the top of his hoodie. A thin plume of smoke, smelling sickeningly sweet like cough medicine, overflows and vanishes within seconds. By the skatepark local kids lean against the boards of alleyway buildings, waiting for an adrenaline rush that leaves behind a hollow and ephemeral longing for more.
Vaping nicotine has quickly become an epidemic among teens across the nation, and use in our community is no exception. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado has the highest use rating of the 37 states surveyed, and twice as high as the national average. 58.4% of Colorado high schoolers reported having used the drug according to the 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data. Here in the RE1J School District, 43.4% of students reported having tried E-cigarettes, with 29.4% reporting having used them in the last 30 days. The prevalence has reached a sad, comedic level, with a recent sign on someone’s locker featuring a bathroom stall with the message “Why is there a toilet in the Juul room?”
The term “perception of harm” is often used to explain why e-cigarettes are so popular among teens, as many believe that vaping is safer than cigarettes. After all, this is the false selling point handed down to us from E-cigarette companies, which unfairly target our age group with products, designs, and flavors that appeal to youth. Tens of millions of dollars are spent to hook our generation and are responsible for undoing decades of progress in helping prevent kids from taking up smoking. These strategies are working because only half of the surveyed teens in Colorado thought that vaping was risky at all, and 66% believed that there was no nicotine in the vapor.
So what is vaping exactly? Vape products, or E-cigarettes deliver nicotine through a liquid that is heated into vapor and inhaled, cutting out the cancer-causing tar of combustible cigarettes. However, vaping liquids contain additives such as propylene glycol, that can form carcinogenic compounds when heated, diacetyl, the chemical blamed for causing “popcorn lung,” and formaldehyde, along with at least 60 different chemical compounds, none of which have been studied to determine long term effects. There are many E-cigarette brands, but by far the most popular and widely sold is Juul, which has the highest nicotine concentration. One Juul pod contains nicotine levels equivalent to one pack of cigarettes and has two times more nicotine than most other e-cigarettes.
Vaping affects the human body in ways we are only beginning to understand. According to the National Center for Health Research, side effects include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, chronic bronchitis, insulin resistance, and lung disease. While these may seem dangerous on their own, effects are much more dramatic in teens. Teens whom vape are shown to have slowed development of brain and lungs, decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, increased impulsivity and shown a higher sensitivity to other drugs. One of the most shocking facts is that smokeless tobacco has been shown to be more addictive than alcohol or anti-anxiety medication, and almost as addictive as cocaine.
We are not surprised that students vape at our school because we know how easy it would be to hide these products. Many are willing to take the risk because they are addicted and can’t go seven hours without nicotine intake. Vape companies are making it easier and easier to conceal use with sleek, high tech devices designed to hide vaping in everyday environments. The devices, which can be purchased from over 460 different brands, come in all forms including pens, pipes, cigars and most commonly, devices that are made to resemble USB flash drives which charge in USB ports. A common refrain heard in the halls is, “Anyone have a portable charger? I need to charge my vape pen…”
Increasingly popular are accessories like bracelets with a built-in vape pen, and a variety of clothing and apparel options, including hoodies featuring vape mouthpieces in the hoodie strings for “vape ready” wear. At the end of the day, the pens themselves are small enough that they can be used without drawing too much attention.
Currently, the FDA restricts the sale of E-cigarettes to individuals under the age of 18. These regulations also prohibit vaping on school grounds and in any non-smoking area, but otherwise, vape pens can be used in any other public area.
In trying to tackle the issue, Crested Butte Community School’s main focus centers on education with the hope that bringing facts to light will help mitigate the situation and curb use. When asked if vaping at our school was different from other schools, Bob Piccaro, Assistant Principal at CBCS said, “It’s an epidemic among teens in America, and we’re not immune here.”
In conversation with students at CBCS, an anonymous user felt there was little risk, “It’s just nicotine, like, it’s not even that bad.” The lack of education regarding the use of E-cigarette nicotine has created a cover for a physical addiction that no teen should have to handle.
When asked where they saw other students vaping the most, an anonymous CBCS student reported “It’s in locker rooms, on the bus, sometimes even in class. It just flies straight by the teachers. My friends can’t stop talking about it. They’re always buying stuff, or talking about how they need to purchase more.”
Currently, if a student is caught vaping at CBCS, the school discipline policy requires a meeting with the student’s parents where they are notified, often for the first time, of their child’s use. Piccaro referred to this an “awakening of reality” as most parents have no knowledge of their child’s use. Though students vaping might deny addiction around peers when caught, “All have admitted their inability to control the urge, or quit,” he said.
Employees at True Value, a local retailer of Juul pods and devices provided some insight on sales and use in our community. According to employees Mikey Strauch and Nick Hill, the biggest crowd buying Juul products is significantly younger than average tobacco consumer, with a majority barely 18, and few over 30. The most popular flavors sold are mint and mango. True Value sees slightly more male Juul customers than female, though they say it’s nearly even. The habit isn’t cheap — a Juul device costs roughly $34.99, plus a starter pack of four pods, $15.99. The cost of continually replenishing pods is expensive, even for adults, let alone teens with limited income.
Ever since Juul arrived on the store’s shelves about a year ago, the number of young-looking customers buying age-restricted products has gone way up. Anyone buying Juul who does not clearly appear to be 18 or older must provide I.D; that is the only current regulation to the knowledge of the employees mentioned. However, they informed us that once stores (excluding establishments which are off limits for minors to enter) run out of their current stocks of fruit-flavored vape pods, they will not be able to order more due to the FDA’s recent initiative to eliminate flavors arguably aimed at teens. All flavors will continue to be sold on the company’s website.
Piccaro believes that the community as a whole needs to take a stance and action on this issue. In 2012, the city of Gunnison passed an ordinance which made possession of tobacco products for individuals under age 18 a petty offense, punishable by a mandatory court appearance, education and potential fine. In some Colorado towns like Aspen, city officials have changed the legal age to buy nicotine products from 18 to 21 years old. Another solution could be to put a limit on the number of pods sold at once, to discourage the illegal resale or sharing of pods with minors.
Piccaro also made the point, “We need to change the social norm of negative peer pressure to positive peer pressure. This way instead of teens encouraging their peers to try vaping, they motivate them to stop. The more we educate our youth about the negatives of this, then maybe we can start to sway some, and once we start swaying some, then peer pressure can help take over.”
The True Value staff voiced their concern around people “developing an addiction without truly knowing… how much of a drug it is,” to quote Strauch and Hill. A large part of today’s young generation is disgusted by the thought of people smoking a whole pack of cigarettes in a day, but are much less offended by vaping. “I don’t think people are fully aware of what they’re ingesting or what they’re doing to their body. I understand both sides. People see it’s targeted to kids unfairly, but I also understand the side of the convenience and the novelty,” said Hill. During the interview, a young woman, just over age 18, and a recent graduate of CBCS bought a pack of Juul pods.
High school is a time for new beginnings and looking ahead. It’s difficult to watch our peers undermine all the hard work and preparation for the future by using something that is so detrimental to their health. We want to support each other in becoming the best leaders of tomorrow. In the meantime, we need the leaders of today to step up and help our community kick this dangerous habit. For more information on local efforts, or support in quitting, contact the Gunnison County Substance Abuse Prevention Project, 970 642-7396.
This article was made possible by the CBCS Writer’s Collective, a student creative writing group led by Brooke MacMillan through the CBCS Enrichment Program and Center for the Arts, Literary Arts Department.
Edney, Anna. “FDA Threatens to Pull E-Cigarettes to Fight the Rise of Kids Vaping.”
Bloomberg. 12 September 2018. Web. 19 December 2018.
Becker, Rachel. “A Spike in Underage Vaping Prompts FDA to Restrict Flavored E-Cigarette
Products.” 15 November 2018. Web. 19 December 2018.
We know that youth vaping is quickly on the rise and understand there is a lot of misinformation. Choice Pass would like to share some resources about vaping with you and encourage you to have conversations at home with your child to provide them with accurate education and information. Here are some links to resources:
Here are a few short videos:
Please, call or email with any questions.
Emily Mirza, Choice Pass, 200 E. Virginia Ave, Gunnison Co 81230
Donate to the Choice Pass Component Fund here – http://cfgv.org/choicepass/
- E‐cigarettes, available in the US since around 2007, are battery powered devices that provide the user with an aerosolized dosage of nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals. Other common names for an e‐cigarette include vaporizer, vape pen, electronic hookah, hookah pen and JUUL.
- Aside from some state and local laws that restrict access to minors, e‐cigarettes are currently unregulated from a health and safety standpoint. Due to their unregulated status, youth are again being inundated with advertising for a tobacco‐linked product. The FDA regulates traditional tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco, and is currently in the rule making phase of a process to regulate e‐cigarettes as tobacco products.
- E‐cigarettes are included in most school districts’ Tobacco Free Schools policy, which means that use of electronic vaping devices is not allowed on school property or at school sponsored events.
- The amount of nicotine in refillable bottles containing e‐liquid juice doesn’t always match what it says on the label, particularly if the label says “nicotine‐free.” The alarming increase of nicotine poisonings among children under 5 years of age highlights another significant risk of e-cigarette use, an increase that is due in part to increased use of e‐cigarettes by youth and the increasingly popular refillable tank devices.
- Nicotine, aside from being extremely addictive, poses a significant risk to human health. Nicotine is linked to heart disease, immune suppression, and changes to the structure of the adolescent brain, which may explain why early exposure to smoking is significantly likely to lead to a lifelong struggle with nicotine addiction.
- Testing has shown that e‐juice contains some of the same cancer causing chemicals that cigarettes do. Additionally, the vapor from e‐cigarettes contains chemicals that can damage lung cells, cause respiratory issues, and are linked to chronic lung disease. Because e‐cigarettes are so new, their long term impact on human health is unknown.
- E‐cigarettes are incredibly attractive to youth and stand poised to undo successes made in the reduction of youth tobacco use. Teen smoking rates continue to drop, which is great news. At the same time, e‐cigarettes use among youth is a rapidly growing problem. While e‐cigarettes may be a way for long‐time adult smokers to quit, a claim that is still unproven, youth don’t use cigarettes as cessation devices. In fact, many youth who would never use cigarettes try out e-cigarettes because they are curious about them and don’t see them as harmful, and then continue to use them.
- Research suggests that even if youth have never smoked before trying e‐cigarettes, they are more likely to try cigarettes in the future. A recent longitudinal study of teens in L.A. found that teens who try e‐cigarettes are significantly more likely to try cigarettes or other tobacco products within a year of initiating use and become long‐term smokers. A 2012 study of young adults in Colorado (18‐24) who smoke found that 54% also used e‐cigarettes.
Find more information about “JUULing” here: http://www.gunnisoncounty.org/863/JUUL