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Writing Her Own History—and Future: Sarah Garcia’s Journey to Fountain Valley School

“My parents are immigrants from Mexico who came here with nothing more than $100 in their pocket after leaving all of their belongings in Ciudad Juarez,” says Sarah Garcia to a group of Fountain Valley School Alumni last spring. Now in her senior year, Sarah often finds herself speaking to others who are eager to hear her opinion and who look to her for guidance. 


 
She is the school’s community council secretary, a residential assistant in a residence hall on campus, a Student Cultural Organization leader, and a Global Scholar Diploma candidate. And this coming May, she will join the ranks of proud Fountain Valley School alumni empowered to write their own history—as they envision it—in college and in life. 
 
Sarah hails from Yoder, a small town East of Colorado Springs where her parents are ranchers. Growing up, she was consistently recognized for her academic achievement, but always had a sense that she wanted something more than the local schools had to offer. By the end of middle school, it became abundantly clear to her that she needed to take control of her future and begin writing it for herself. 

“I was an exemplary student throughout elementary school, but the story changed when I transitioned into middle school,” says Sarah. “What I had once adored was now tainted with an urging desperation to leave as I realized that the school did not hold true to the core values I was seeking in my life. That is when I began my search for a school that was more open-minded and accepting.”  
 
During the spring of her eighth-grade year, Sarah found what she was looking for during a visit to Fountain Valley School. “As soon as I stepped foot on campus, I knew that this was the school for me,” says Sarah. “Apart from the beautiful setting, everyone I met was kind and welcoming, and even the students who I didn’t speak to flashed me a warm smile.” 
 
Sarah applied and was admitted, however one significant hurdle remained—tuition. 
 
“Before I applied, I asked my parents whether or not they would be able to pay four years of annual tuition,” notes Sarah. “And being supportive parents who only sought the best for me, they said yes even though tuition represented a significant portion of my parents’ income.” 
 
During the application process, Sarah and her parents also learned about Fountain Valley School’s Scholarship and Financial Aid Program that provides $2.8 million each year in need and merit-based assistance. Working closely with the School’s Admissions Office, the Garcias applied for aid and received an award sufficient enough to make Sarah’s Fountain Valley education possible. “I still consider the day that the Admissions Office called with news of my award as the best day of my life,” says Sarah. 
 
However, Sarah’s journey to Fountain Valley School—both literally and figuratively—was not quite finished, nor was the Garcia’s partnership with the Admission Office.
 
Throughout her freshman year, Sarah distinguished herself as a committed student, a competitive athlete, and a stand-out leader among her peers. However, in addition to a challenging workload, Sarah had the added burden of a one-hour commute to and from school. As a result, it was difficult for her to take full advantage of the abundant extracurricular opportunities at Fountain Valley and the demands of homework frequently kept her working well into the night.
 
In a close-knit community such as Fountain Valley School, her struggle would not go unnoticed or unsupported. 
 
“Sarah was extremely positive and energetic, despite the extraordinary demands of her schedule,” remembers Kila McCann, who leads the Office of Admission and who worked closely with the Garcias throughout the admission process. “Through many conversations with Sarah’s parents, it was clear to me just how committed they were to their daughter and to the school. I knew that as a school, we needed to support Sarah’s commitment to her education and the Garcia’s commitment to her. We worked together to transition Sarah from a day student to a boarder, which has allowed her the opportunity to blossom into the student leader she has become over the past four years.”
 
McCann considers Sarah’s story to be a wonderful example of how the Admission Office works closely with families to support students. “It was clear from her first day on campus that Sarah and her family placed a high value on education and recognized the unique opportunities at Fountain Valley School,” says Kila. “Like her parents, we saw great potential in Sarah and our financial aid program exists to help us partner with families in order to bring the best and brightest students to Fountain Valley School and help them thrive.” 
 


In addition to need-based tuition assistance, Fountain Valley School also offers the merit-based Summit Scholarship Program. Eight Summit Scholarships are awarded each year to new, incoming 9th or 10th-grade applicants who have distinguished themselves academically and who embody the school’s core values of courage, open-Mindedness, self-Reliance, curiosity and compassion. Summit Scholarships are awarded to boarding and day students and range between 25 - 90 percent of tuition each year of enrollment, conditional upon good academic standing.
 
Fountain Valley School was established in 1930 with the aspiration of creating a top-notch college preparatory, boarding school in the American West. Nine decades later, Fountain Valley is a coed day and boarding school that draws students from 24 states and 16 countries. In 2019, Fountain Valley was recognized by the industry-leading school ranking website, Niche.com, as the top boarding school in Colorado and best private high school in Colorado Springs. 
 
Director of Enrollment Management, Kila McCann, can be reached at 719-391-5251 or kmccann@fvs.edu.
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