Westside schools:
‘Power Results’ grant for the Wests

       West Elementary and West Middle School are the joint recipients of a $150,000 grant that's intended to help their staff and students become more technologically proficient.
       The exact strategy for the Enhancing Education through Technology grant is still “in the defining stages,” West Elementary Principal Terry Martinez said in a recent interview. “With a little thinking, we could do a lot.”
       The Colorado Department of Education grant, also called the “Power Results” grant, was awarded around the end of 2009. The duration will be through the end of the 2010-11 school year.
       The two schools, which began sharing a single building this year, had jointly applied for the grant last summer.
       District 11 supported the West quest because of the schools' low-income situation (nearly three-quarters of the students qualifying for free or reduced lunches) and the possibility that the Board of Education might combine West and West into an official K-8 school at some point in the future. “If the board goes for K-8, it will give them the tools to facilitate going in a common direction,” said Gwen Giddens, D-11 director of Learning Resource Services. “Staff felt that the Westside had taken some hits [in the 2009 reutilization plan that closed several Westside schools], and we felt like we needed to invest in West. We know how hard it is [with the closures]. It broke our hearts, but we're trying to provide equitable education for all the students.”
       Another goal for District 11, according to Giddens, is taking what West develops for the grant and applying it to other district schools.
       Martinez and West Middle School Principal Clay Gomez said they are forming staff teams to brainstorm ideas for using the grant money effectively. Expectations include bringing in professionals (to train the staff so that they can be more astute in teaching the students) and obtaining cutting-edge equipment to help this happen. But the big key is “getting kids experienced and engaged in the process,” Martinez said. Right now, typically because of low-income home situations, some students don't have as much exposure to technology as others. So the grant becomes a “launching point” for immersing them in 21st century knowledge and skills, he explained.
      
       District 11 Superintendent Nicholas Gledich is talking and answering questions at four schools this month, with the last of these being the Westside's Holmes Middle School, 2455 Mesa Road, Thursday, Feb. 25 at 6 p.m.
       He had previously met the public at Holmes Aug. 13, after being hired by the Board of Education last summer.
       At each meeting, “Dr. Gledich will provide responses to community questions and/or concerns voiced at the August community meetings,” a District 11 press release states. “This is a great opportunity for you to receive information and to give your input.”
      
       Last week's “Westside Schools” article stating West Middle School's accomplishments at the District 11 math competition Feb. 9 inadvertently left out the West eighth-grade results. Out of 11 schools, the regular-level team took first place, the accelerated-level team took second, and the double-accelerated team took third.
      

Coronado High students who helped with the "Harvest of Love" food-drive competition hold up their banner in the school parking lot while a crew loads the bin with donations they'd collected into a truck going to Care & Share Feb. 13. At left are Palmer students with their bin.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The good news Feb. 13 was that Coronado High School student leaders gathered 787 pounds of food for Care & Share.
       The bad news was that it was a competition with Palmer High to see which school could get the most donations, and the downtown high school won with a total of 1,250 pounds.
       Two other high schools, Wasson and Mitchell, had said they would compete in the four-hour “Harvest of Love” food-raising event in the Coronado parking lot, but they didn't show up.
       The contest, timed for Valentine's Day had been inititated by Palmer High School. The school's senior class president, Buffeigh O'Donnell, is the daughter of John and Carol O'Donnell, who run a downtown marketing agency. But the O'Donnells didn't just promote “Harvest” to help their daughter, according to her father. “We're looking at making this a legacy program that we would do two times a year,” John O'Donnell said.
       Each school had a bin to fill up with food (money was also accepted). Care & Share is the main food bank for southern Colorado.
       The Two Men and a Truck company donated a truck for each school to carry its bin to Care & Share for weighing.

Westside Pioneer/press releases