Months of planning go into making Grandparents & Special Friends Day a success at Colorado Academy, especially during a pandemic when the day is held remotely over Zoom. But no amount of planning could have overcome the weather-related power loss which forced CA to close school and cancel Lower School Grandparents & Special Friends Day on Thursday, December 16.
With power restored 24 hours later, Middle and Upper School Grandparents Day went off as scheduled on Friday, December 17. Head of School Dr. Mike Davis began the day by talking to Zoom visitors about the traditions that have kept CA strong during the pandemic. He also thanked the many grandparents who had supported the construction of the new Leach Center for the Performing Arts. He mentioned CA signature programs like REDI Lab, HOPE, and Interim, and he thanked CA’s excellent faculty for their hard work.
He also updated grandparents on the past two years during which CA has invested very intentional effort into DEI work—diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Our Office of Inclusivity creates programing for students, faculty and staff, and parents,” he told viewers. “We are working on a curriculum review, and our Board of Trustees has set goals for every aspect of campus.”
Davis fielded questions from well-informed grandparents about CA’s STEM curriculum, how the school teaches history during politicized times, and what methods CA will use to continue to support diversity.
Upper and Middle School Principals
Upper School Principal Max Delgado also met over Zoom with grandparents and answered questions about students receiving college credit for AP classes. He assured grandparents that students were adjusting to the classroom after a prolonged period of remote learning.
“We get the chance to watch students grow up from Freshmen to young adults,” he said. “Their transformation into abstract thinkers is spectacular.”
One Zoom guest took the opportunity to tell Delgado about how her grandchildren have felt since transferring to CA. “You have made them feel they belong to the group,” she said. “We are very pleased at the wonderful job you have done. Thank you!”
Middle School Principal Bill Wolf-Tinsman talked to grandparents about the importance of arts, athletics, technology, and character in the Middle School.
He used his own daughter as an example of a student who had been unenthusiastic about having to take photography in Middle School, only to find that she had a passion for it. Ultimately, in Upper School, she presented a Senior Portfolio Show in photography.
“That’s what we want from Middle School students,” Wolf-Tinsman said. “They should explore new experiences and find new interests.”
Visiting classes with a click
Grandparents dropped into both Middle and Upper School classes, where they were treated to a variety of lessons.
Thanh Luong’s class was focused on the 20th century space race, with a close look at the role played by Katherine Johnson. Johnson was an American mathematician whose work for NASA was critical to the success of early U.S. spaceflights and was made famous in the film Hidden Figures.
Forbes Cone’s social studies class was discussing the most memorable news events of 2021.
Renee Medina had grandparents working with their grandchildren to solve math problems.
Peggy Butler’s class was presenting a lesson on the history of Colorado’s most notable candies (care for some Enstrom’s, anyone?).
Erin Carlson’s class delivered an enthusiastic rendition of “Frosty the Snowman” in French and received a round of applause.
Erin Galvin’s students presented their research about water issues in Nicaragua.
Donna Farrell’s students in Grade 6 Spanish demonstrated their language skills by reading stories they had written in Spanish to the grandparents.
Kathy Zolla’s students showed their grandparents the probability of winning Powerball.
Matt Olmstead ran a Middle School version of “Jeopardy,” with grandparents serving as answer lifelines for their grandchildren.
Jason Koza’s students reviewed a year of math concepts and taught what they had learned to their grandparents.
Eric Augustin’s students assumed the identities of American colonists in Eighth Grade Civics Class, demonstrating what they had learned about the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.
In Neethi Venkateswaran’s Upper School Honors Pre-Calculus class, students were studying Hitomezashi stitches, looking at the geometric patterns and then folding in the study of probability.
In Dr. Jon Vogels’ Sophomore American Literature class, grandparents and students were engaged in the study of William Lloyd Garrison’s 19th century weekly newspaper, “The Liberator,” which promoted an abolitionist argument against slavery.