Excitement, butterflies mark first day of school in DCSD
CASTLE ROCK – Students loaded up with school supplies lined up outside of two Douglas County School District elementary schools on Monday August 4, in anticipation of the first day of school.
Filled with butterflies and excitement for the year ahead, the kids at Clear Sky, Meadow View and Soaring Hawk elementary schools and the Renaissance Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound School were the first to experience the annual tradition that will play out time and time again across DCSD in the next couple of weeks.
“We are a little nervous for her first full day of school. We are new,” explained Julie Kraus, a Meadow View parent, whose family moved to Douglas County from Greeley.
“There is a little bit of butterflies, but I’ve heard such good things, such wonderful things. We are really excited,” Kraus said.
“There are always butterflies, even for the veteran families,” added Brittnee Pierse, a returning Meadow View parent who walked with her second and sixth-grade students to school.
She says the return to school means having to find all of those school supplies and start the daily toil of lunch making, but she and her family are ready—even if it still is the middle of summer.
“We love the schedule that we have: Modified Traditional. We’ve got eight weeks and they’re ready to go after that time,” Pierse said.
At Soaring Hawk Elementary, the students were greeted by a disc jockey from Jammin’ 101.5, Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen, Board of Education President Kevin Larsen, and new principal Chris Neville. However, they seemed most excited about the appearance of the school’s mascot, Hawk.
At Meadow View, much of the excitement centered on the continued roll out of Artful Learning at the school. Artful Learning is nationally recognized educational programming that works to incorporate the arts into learning throughout the school.
“I’m excited because I feel that this is a new, cutting edge style of learning,” said Kraus. “I think that adding art to anything is beneficial.”
“The kids made such great connections, global connections out of it; connections you wouldn’t expect a first or second-grader to make. That has been really cool,” explained Pierse. “We went to my in-laws’ house and there was a painting. She knew who the artist was and my mother was flabbergasted.”
As word about Meadow View’s artful learning emphasis spread, enrollment for the school has begun to rise. In fact, even parents who have decided to move to another neighborhood have chosen to continue sending their students to the school.
“We actually moved out of the Meadows and we live on the other side of Castle Rock, but I open enroll the kids back here because they love this school. The programs are amazing. The teachers are amazing. I’ve just seen so much growth in both of them. It’s a great program,” Dertz said. “I think that it is huge for the kids. I think it is much needed in the classroom. They are programs that our school district needs. The arts are an amazing part of life and should be incorporated within their education.”
“I’m very glad that [the Dertz family] still has the choice to come and I love the programming. I’m also a huge fan of neighborhood schools. I do worry that the sense of community is not what it used to be when all the families walked to school,” Pierse said.
Superintendent Fagen says she understands this concern, but knows that most families still choose their neighborhood school, regardless of whether an educational strand like Artful Learning, International Baccalaureate, or Project Based Learning is offered.
“We value the sense of community and the culture that each of our schools have created,” said Superintendent Fagen. “For many parents, the most important factor in choosing a school is location or having their children go to school with their neighborhood friends. We support that.”
“We also believe in supporting our schools and our communities in choosing program that best meets the needs of their students,” Fagen added. “Implementing Artful Learning doesn’t change the outcomes we teach our students. Instead, it offers a unique pathway to that learning.”
In addition to Meadow View and Soaring Hawk, students returned to Clear Sky Elementary School and Renaissance Expeditionary Learning Magnet during the first week of August. The majority of DCSD students will return to classes the week of August 11.