RCHS partners with local organization to support youth
By Amy Shanahan
Students, parents and community members throughout Castle Pines are well aware of the phenomenal reputation of Rock Canyon High School (RCHS). This reputation has not gone unnoticed among those outside the community either, and recently RCHS was asked to partner with a wonderful local organization called the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC).
The JAC began fifteen years ago through the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office in order to address the core problems facing youth today, and to facilitate services for youth in the community who require intervention.
Today JAC serves as a safe environment where youth and their parents can learn about services that address the needs of at-risk, high-need and delinquent youth ages 10 through 17. These services address problems such as family conflict, substance abuse, and mental health.
JAC services Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties, and has historically been utilized by law enforcement agencies. However, that is changing and the administrators of JAC want to encourage the community to utilize the free services to reach youth before they come into contact with law enforcement. This is where RCHS comes in.
Captain Kevin Duffy works for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and also serves as the chairman of the board of directors of JAC. Duffy reached out to several School Resource Officers in the Douglas County School District and asked for recommendations of a high school with strong progressive leadership, and active parent and community support. RCHS and school principal Andy Abner were recommended time and again. Duffy and Kira Suurvarik, the Executive Director of JAC met with school leaders, counselors, and parents to encourage them to get the word out to the community about their services.
Suurvarik explained, “Parents often need some kind of assistance at various levels, and at JAC they can get help and referrals to resources. Parents are often afraid to reach out to law enforcement if they feel their child needs help, so we are here to answer their questions and direct them to services that are available to them.” Duffy went on to comment, “We want to see youth riding to JAC in the front seat of their parents’ car rather than the backseat of a police car.”
RCHS will serve as a test site for how JAC can better market its services and reach the community at large. RCHS will also be utilizing the services of JAC when occasions arise that they feel a student needs intervention.
Principal Andy Abner remarked, “We are excited to partner with the Juvenile Assessment Center as it provides a valuable resource to many of our families who may not know where to turn for help. Regardless of the concern a parent or our school may have, we can count on the JAC to assist and point our families in the right direction to get the help they need. By partnering with the JAC we keep open lines of communication between Rock Canyon High School and the JAC so that between them, the school and the parents, we can provide the most comprehensive wrap-around support to help our students find success and happiness.”
The Juvenile Assessment Center is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week. To learn more, visit www.jac18.org or call them directly at 720-874-3381.