When being a '10' isn't enough

Socoro High School's 11s Club teaches leadership, philanthropy

— Soroco High School's five-year-old philanthropic 11s Club has changed the format of its annual community recognition ceremony to reward more than just one outstanding community volunteer.

At the Soroco boys basketball game Jan. 27, the 11s Club honored several groups of community volunteers, inluding with the Yampa and Oak Creek Fire Protection District medics and firefighters, Oak Creek Town Board members and the Phippsburg Community Club.

11s Club adviser Valerie Broadbent said club members noticed that the ceremony had become too competitive and that the club was not recognizing as many of the community's volunteers as it wanted to.

"Part of the 11s Club mission is to build bridges connecting the community and the school. We wanted this year's ceremony to reflect that," Broadbent said.

"It's always been a good thing for the kids to recognize our volunteers because (the students) realize they wouldn't have half of the things they do without our volunteers," adviser Tammy Gilleland said.

The 11s Club does much more than build bridges, Broadbent said.

The club has hosted special activity nights for students and started school traditions such as last year's spirit march, which now has evolved into a homecoming parade.

Broadbent said the club began several years ago under the guidance of a former Soroco High School football coach and physical education teacher.

Broadbent said the club got its name from the idea that being a "10" (on a scale of one to 10) was not good enough for Soroco's student body. Instead, the coach suggested the students strive to be "bigger, faster and stronger," improving the school and the community and focusing on being "11s."

Since then, Broadbent said, the club has seen steady membership and healthy growth.

For example, Broadbent and fellow advisers Gary Heide and Gilleland are helping club members learn about the process of awarding grant money to local nonprofit organizations that applied for money from Soroco's chapter of the El Pomar Youth in Community Service program.

11s Club Vice President Amanda Quiones said many Colorado high schools have EPYCS chapters, which award grant money to community nonprofit organizations. Quiones said the school's EPYCS students also are members of the 11s Club.

Broadbent said EPYCS is a good opportunity for the students to learn money management, grant proposals review and money distribution to deserving recipients.

In 2004, Soroco's EPYCS chapter awarded more than $8,000 to more than 20 local nonprofit groups, including Yampatika, the Historical Society of Oak Creek and Phippsburg and Special Olympics of Colorado.

"El Pomar has a lot of money. They look for creative ways to get it out to people," Broadbent said.

Part of the appeal of the 11s Club, Quiones said, is that any student in any grade can join the club without having to meet specific criteria.

"It helps to be a part of something you can be active in without being the most popular or smartest kid in school," Quiones said.

"I joined the club three years ago because I thought it was important for the community and the school to work together more. I like helping to come with ideas to improve that."

Broadbent said that through the years, she has seen students take more active leadership roles within the program, which is part of the reason the club was created.

"It's important to us that the students are the leaders and that they're the ones who are really active. There is definitely an aspect of leadership here, which is what we really go after," Broadbent said.

--To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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