Westside schools:
Memorial tree preserved at Jackson

       In the midst of the recent six-room addition to Jackson Elementary, the preservation of a small blue spruce tree might have gone unnoticed.

Shirley Opperman
Westside Pioneer photo

After being transplanted during the project, the tree still had to be worked around at times. This photo was from October 2009.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Except to those who knew why the tree was there.
       In the fall of 1998, Shirley Opperman had been the school psychologist for three years. But she died of a heart attack at age 43, shocking those who knew her as being healthy and an avid skier.
       Staff people got together around the idea of planting a tree for her in the grassy area northeast of of the main office in the spring of 1999. “We wanted to do something as a memorial,” said Principal Anne Dancy. “She had no family here and no children.”
       The tree grew slowly over the ensuing decade, but then came the addition project last summer. It was in the way of the work that had to be done by the contractor, Daniel-Barry Construction. Made aware of the situation, Daniel-Barry owner Barry Buttermore talked to the school and wound up having his crews transplant the tree about 50 feet to the north.
       Even there, it was still in the area of occasional heavy-equipment work during the project, but the crews “knew to stay away from it,” Buttermore said.
       “We hand-watered it every other day,” added Danny Nolin, the construction superintendent on the project.
       The addition was completed in December. The Opperman tree now sits by the north end of the addition, looking as if it's always been there.

A recent photo shows the blue spruce that had been planted for Shirley Opperman outside Jackson Elementary in 1999. It used to be in the area of the new kindergarten playground (left, rear), which was put in as part of last year's addition project.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Howbert Elementary, 1023 N. 31st St., will have a “kindergarten roundup” Wednesday, March 3 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Invited to attend are parents of children who will be eligible to enter kindergarten in August. They do not have to live in the Howbert attendance area. For more information, call the school at 328- 4200.
       The early introduction is traditional for Howbert. Buena Vista Montessori Elementary, which does not have an attendance area, has a waiting list and has been taking names for it since November, according to the school.
       Other District 11 Westside elementaries (Bristol, Jackson, Midland and West) said they have nothing planned in advance of April 23, the date when D-11 kindergarten registration formally begins.
       A “charity night” for the Bijou School will be offered at the Sonic, 3401 W. Colorado Ave. Tuesday, March 2. Diners will need to mention the Bijou School (an alternative high school now located in the historic Whittier school building) when placing their orders.
       Rachael Tindal of Holmes Middle School was named the gold medal winner in the Musical Composition category judging in this year's Colorado PTA State Reflections competition.
       She is one of seven Westside students who received state awards. The other six (all silver) were:
       - Megan Urban (Holmes), Dance.
       Julia Ayles (Coronado High), Film.
       - Samuel Ahoor and Elinor Kuykendall (Holmes) and Adrian Brown (Coronado), Literature.
       - Alyssa Ceballos (Coronado), Musical Composition.
       - Meredith Cook (Holmes), Photography.
       All gold medal-winning entries, including Tindal's, will be submitted for the national Reflections competition, according to Nora Brown, president of the Coronado PTA.
       Reflections is a national PTA effort, optional for schools, that's intended to bolster school emphasis in the arts.

Westside Pioneer/press releases