As I begin my eleventh year as head of Colorado Academy, I am reminded of how much I value the cyclical life of schools. Students begin a new year with the potential of developing new friends, interests, and passions. Educators have the opportunity to engage young minds in relevant and meaningful ways, capitalizing on students’ growth and maturity over the summer. Parents watch their children grow and experience both the familiar traditions and each year’s exciting new challenges. That is why summer is so important for students to connect with family and friends, to read and relax, and to step out of the demanding school year schedule.
Of course, that is about to change with the start of the new school year at the end of August. Much has happened while you have been away:
On Campus This Summer
You will note significant progress over the summer on our construction project to upgrade and revitalize our Athletic Center. Crews have worked diligently taking advantage of the summer weather to get the building enclosed by October; pre-cast walls for the new space have been installed, and steel joists will be installed by the start of school. With the early 2019 opening of Phase II of this project, we’ll turn our sights to funding a new performing arts facility. The theater is an important community space for student town hall meetings and assemblies. It is also an important place for our young actors and actresses, musicians and singers, dancers, and tech theater students to learn and practice their craft. In that building, we hold more than 30 theatrical performances and music recitals a year, along with many town hall meetings and all-school assemblies. Please watch for additional information about plans for the theater and how you can be part of our efforts to revitalize this important community space.
There is a renovated classroom in our Lower School, and new classroom space for Middle School located within the Raether Library. You’ll also notice a new location and a newly renovated building for our Before- and After-Care program. It is now located along CA’s North Road, just to the west of our Operations & Transportation facility, and will provide revitalized indoor and outdoor spaces for children who are here during extended hours.
You’ll also notice a newly remodeled Carolyn Smith Center that houses our mailroom, reception, several administrative offices and our Advancement Team. This update reflects our emphasis on quality communications and coordinated efforts to advance the school and our mission of educating young people.
Aside from the construction work, the campus has been anything but quiet! Our robust Summer Camp program has been a place of learning and activity to some 600 children every day since mid-June. Additionally, we have hosted another six weeks of enrichment studies and activities through our Horizons program, serving some 150 low-income students from Denver Public Schools. Thanks to the employees and administrators of those programs.
Improvements and Initiatives
We have created an additional Core section in our Middle School to bring us to five sections in every subject at every grade level, and have, over time added two additional faculty members. All of this results in smaller class and advisory sizes throughout the division. Smaller class sections on average at each grade level will advantage instruction and the ability of the teacher to meet individual student needs
Colorado Academy is about to begin work on the three-year process for becoming reaccredited by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools. This year, we will spend time reviewing our mission statement and conducting a survey of all of our constituents. Next year, the faculty and leadership team will do an in-depth self-study and analysis of our work as it relates to our mission. Then, in the third year, a team of educators from other institutions will visit campus for several days, conduct interviews, and then provide feedback. Parent participation in our all-school survey in the fall will be extremely helpful as we focus our efforts on school improvement.
Respect for one another
This summer, like last, we have seen the larger American society often divided over a host of social, cultural, political, and economic issues. At a school like Colorado Academy, we exist to create adults who will do good in this world and use their minds to expand our collective understanding of the human condition. We need to be an academic community that invites a realistic and authentic conversation about real-world issues. We must be open to hearing the voices of others. We must be willing—in the best of the Socratic tradition—to ask ourselves hard questions about our thinking. In the process, we must model calm, rational, polite, and respectful conversation about all issues in our community.
There is a quote that says, “To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you means you have done your job.” As my family prepares to send our girls off to college, we are so grateful for the preparation they have received over the past decade from the amazing faculty and staff of Colorado Academy. The rest of that quote says, “They are not ours to keep, but to teach how to soar on their own.” Thanks, in part, to this school and this community, they are ready and excited.
We are excited to welcome our students back at CA! See you in the coming weeks.