Trouble in Paradise?


Photo by Maeve McGuire

A wooden sign hangs above the bright window, Aspen Mountain illuminated in the background. The sign reads, “Aspen- 3 miles” and “real world- ? miles”

Growing up in Aspen, we are told from a young age that Aspen is a little bubble, isolating us from the chaos and turmoil of the “real world.” To really experience what life is like, local students are told to escape the bubble and travel.

Evidently, Aspen is a very sheltered and safe town. There are low crime rates, high average incomes, and a great public school system. People attribute all these factors, along with very little diversity, to Aspenites’ inherent ignorance and inability to survive the “real world”. Although AHS has exceptional academics, it is easy to get lost in the privilege and entitlement of the predominantly rich, white student body. However, due to recent tragic events in the community and AHS specifically, some of the light–or darkness–of the “real world” is beginning to cast into the hallways of Aspen High.

Now, the pages of The Aspen Times circulated throughout our town enclose scandalous and controversial headlines involving AHS students. Scattered throughout the hallways, and whispering in the corners of classrooms, students’ serious and concerned faces disclose their topics of conversation instantly.

Though these tragic events are shocking and deeply disturbing to the student body at AHS- and the community at large, they create an opportunity for students to learn and grow. This is exactly the type of subject matter parents warn their children about in the “real world.” However, the student body is receiving no guidance to help process this information. The dialogue created by these events is limited to rumors and misinformation being spread amongst students’ whispers and group chats. However, the importance of these somber scandals are not the evident facts of the event, but the big-picture issues at large. Without a facilitated discussion provided, students are unable to fully understand and grow from these events, leaving them isolated from the “real world” and the wasted opportunities created.

The administration needs to create, allow, and oversee a pragmatic and safe dialogue among the student body at AHS. Although this is a challenging and controversial task, there is an effective and compelling way for students to be able to discuss this information, while remaining respectful of and sensitive to the students directly affected.