Sanford students pursue passions with 'GripTape'

Courtesy Photo Pursuing their passions with Grip Tape are Sanford students, from left, Jordan Whitney, Holly Thomas, Erin Russel and Joel Maestas

SANFORD– Students at Sanford School are joining a growing program to pursue their passions.
GripTape, a newer program to the San Luis Valley, is gaining students who want to explore their interests. Students ages 15-19 are able to explore their passions through GripTape.


Three Sanford students, Jordan Whitney, Holly Thomas, and Erin Russel, are currently in the program, and Joel Maestas has completed it, making him an alumni.


At the Grip Tape website, it states: “We give youth the power to learn how they want, funding to pursue their learning and a Champion to encourage them along the way.


They promote youth driven learning. Students choose a subject they are interested in and the program supports them with financial and mentor support to make the learning happen.


For 10 weeks the student is then supported by a Champion, or mentor, through their learning.


Holly Thomas and Erin Russel are both enrolled but will start their challenge this upcoming month.


Joel chose Japanese and guitar, Erin piano, Holly will do fashion and dance and Jordan learned to tattoo.
Other students in the program have learned everything from astrophotography, 3D automobile design, dance, human tissue engineering, law, Russian embroidery, to beatboxing.


Joel said, “For my challenge, I learned guitar and improved my Japanese. I think the challenge isn’t just about learning new things, but also learning how to manage your time to learn the essentials and how to utilize them.”


Jordan Whitney shared that “GripTape helped me create a path to gain an apprenticeship and gives me experience so don’t have to go into a job without any knowledge or experience.”


The GripTape headquarters is based in New York, but Amy Scavezze runs the program locally here in the valley.


After completing the program, GripTape flew Joel to New York to gain his insights on the program. They wanted to know how he felt it could be made better.


Joel is now involved with a program called “The GripTape Community Challenge”. It was created specifically for the San Luis Valley. It’s something they launched to help the community.


Eight GripTape alumni were asked to do something to benefit the youth in the community. The group decided to do a nightclub/arcade in Monte Vista. The group has worked together throughout the whole process. They have worked together to form a business plan, worked on finding grants, and they are currently trying to finalize floorplans.


To learn more about the program contact Amy Scavezze at (719)-588-5753 or [email protected]

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