About three years ago my little big sister was finally given the chance she to go to the school that she deserved to be at: Riverview. Many of you that know my little big know that she has some severe learning disabilities, due to those she was never given the education she truly deserved until my mom worked incredibly hard to find a school that would suit Sarah. Now, Sarah is in her junior year at Riverview and I have never seen her more happy and full of excitement. The one downfall about the amazing community Sarah has become a part of is how expensive it is. In layman's term this means that my amazing mom, family, and other very helpful people are trying to have the state of New Hampshire help Sarah finally so she is able to complete high school at Riverview. My mom has bent over backwards numerous times for both my sister and I, I cannot thank her enough. My mom has been working hard trying to show that Riverview is were my little sister belongs, finally myself and other important people to Sarah were able to step in and help by writing testimonials to the county of Lyme expressing why Sarah must stay enrolled at Riverview. Even though I am WICKED busy with school right now because of mid terms I wanted to help, and I know that Sarah and I have a sisterly bond that no one will ever understand. I thought that it was important to express my thoughts what this amazing community of Riverview has done for my little big.
I never really have taken the time to realize how special Sarah is. When we were younger I would get fed up with her quickly, we would end up fighting ( I am sure my mom and dad wish they had an economy package of ear plugs) of course our fights were about reaching into the peanut butter jar, coloring outside the lines annoying me while I was trying to do my real spelling homework for big bad elementary school. When our parents got divorced Sarah and I became closer. We were put through many tough and draining situation that we did not deserve, and still haunt us today. The only way we were able to get through these situations until we could get back to our comfort stop was to lean on each other, and some how, even with a 5 year difference we were able to support each other emotionally.
When my little big was in BES she never really had any true friends, the phone never rang on the weekends with another cheerful 7 year old on the line wondering if Sar wanted to go to the park or play. The sandbox and the swing-set in my mom's back yard was Sarah's ground. When she was at school she would be guided around by a designated Aid which would try to communicate with Sarah about what the class was being taught. Some times being an overseer it made me think that people thought my little sister was from a different planet, well she isn't. Sarah is one of the kindest people on earth, she is always open to greeting people and trying to make friends, while at BES she would always be the first to introduce herself and try to befriend them until they would leave Sarah in the dust and go join the other kids. Sarah had no problem adopting to the older kids around the numerous ski clubs we were at in the winter time, the older kids loved her. They were strong enough to not judge her, even though she wasn't as that big of a skier she always loved going to training and hanging out with the older kids. Sarah and I were enrolled in different schools so I really didn't see her during the day to see how she was being treated, but, when she would get off the bus or get picked up from day care you could tell that she wasn't happy. I believe that in Basalt there were two good things that Sarah learned: 1, was how tough of a person she was and, 2. was workbooks. Anyone that knows Sarah knows that she will spend hours in workbooks trying to learn how to write, learn cursive, add, subtract, multiply. When we moved to Crested Butte so I could attend Crested Butte Academy I know Sarah, my mom and I were all more than relieved to get the heck out of Aspen. I know Sarah and I probably did not voice it, but we both knew that this was going to be a new door for Sarah, hopefully things would be different.
Well, low and behold, not really. She still had an Aid, the kids were growing up so they only got more vicious. Sarah and I were enrolled at different schools again, only this time she was only right across the street instead of down the valley. I cannot remember any outstanding moments in CBMS that Sarah had. I think she might have managed Honor Roll, that was pretty spectacular, she was able to learn the jist of track and cross country running, but never given a fair opportunity to match the other student athletes in their endeavors. When Sarah would come over to my school in the afternoon, she would plop her backpack down in my mom's office and run and join the other kids with whatever activity they were off doing. She was again accepted by the older kids because they could look beyond her learning disabilities. I think she would probably talk more about what she did that afternoon at the Academy than what she did that day during school. The one thing I loved about Sarah and Crested Butte was the fact that she was so friendly. You could walk up Elk Avenue to the post office with Sarah and you would have to stop and say hi to almost everyone, if she was with me most of the people I didn't know, but some how she had managed to introduce herself to them. Crested Butte was a town of 2,000 I wouldn't be surprised if Sarah knew half of the population by a first name basis.
When I graduated my mom realized that Sarah needed to be enrolled in a school were she would succeed. When my mom found Riverview and Sarah went for her test run there it was almost like a perfect match. Riverview was where Sarah needed to be.
Since Sarah entered the school three years ago there have been more positive highlights than I can remember. She has blossomed in to a beautiful young lady because she was finally granted the opportunity that she deserved. Sarah has made lifelong friends, she has become a 16 year old. Our sisterly bond has grown tremendously since her first day at Riverview. Now I have to worry about her taking my clothes, we can gossip, she can ask me for advice, she text messages me like crazy, she like shopping, she always wants to do something with her hair when I am around, she wants to learn how to drive, she will belt out the newest songs on 20 on 20 while in the car, she goes to dances with numerous dates, she was her class president, she holds a passion for the Riverview community that is un-expressible by words. Not only has she benefited from being an individual in the Riverview community but it has graced her with compassion for herself. The educational aspect of the school has done her wonders! She will sit there and read a magazine or read a book. I remember there was one time she was reading a book over this last summer. I asked her what she was reading and she just pointed at the cover, then I asked her what it was about and she didn't answer and I asked her again, and she gave me a look like I had just interrupted something wicked important, she gave me a summary, I snatched the book scanned over the book and sure enough she was dead on! This would have never happened before, she had learned how to actually read! From what I understand about the classroom settings that she is in now, she excels by herself, she doesn't need to depend on an aid to walk her through everything; she can do it herself. Not only has Sarah become an education whiz kid she is an amazing Soccer player, track and cross country runner, and BOWLER!! She finally was given an opportunity to try out what ever sport she wanted to without having to worry about rejection. Sarah has become more daring too! She tries to set the fashion trends on campus, she is not scared to challenge anyone on facts about any subject, she is not afraid to stand up for herself and be proud of her achievements!
Sarah needs Riverview, and Riverview needs Sarah.
Finally Sarah is in a place of comfort, where she can excel at her own pace, a place where the sky is the limit. I have never seen my little sister so happy before. She deserve this community more than anyone I know. Riverview is the greatest opportunity Sarah has been given so far. She is an equal, she has friends, she is smiling. Like I said earlier I have never really thought about my sister in this light before, and I have never realized how important this community is for my sister. This is her second family. Before writing my testimonial for the county I tried to imagine walking a mile is Sarah's shoes, there is no way that I am a strong enough person to conquer the hellish hurdles she has managed. My little sister is a Saint, the more I think about her and how successful she has become the more I love her. Riverview is one of the many great cards Sarah has be dealt for her life. She must finish her high school career at Riverview because so far this has made her an amazingly well rounded person. I Hope the next door that my sister opens after her completion at Riverview is just as bright as this experience has been to her.
I really hope that the committee that is taking care of Sarah's case take a long hard look at Sarah for who she is and what the Riverview community has done for her. I hope that with the goodness in this committees hearts they help my sister successfully finish school at Riverview. She has made it this far already so why revoke something that has be so positive.