Montessori to keep ‘Buena Vista’ school name

       There won't be an elementary school at 1620 W. Bijou St. in 2009-10, but the name “Buena Vista” will live on at a new location, “for the first year at least,” according to Principal David Brilliant.
       The name will accompany the school's Montessori program when it moves to 924 W. Pikes Peak Ave. in August, he said. That's the current home of Washington Elementary. District 11 has made the building available to Montessori because Washington is closing and its current students are in the attendance area for the new Westside Elementary, which will open inside the West Middle School building in 2009-10.
       Brilliant noted that other names besides “Buena Vista” are being considered for the Washington building, with the possibility that the word “Montessori” would become part of whatever name is finally chosen. An ad hoc committee of staff and parents will be looking into that issue.
       No proposals are anticipated until well into the first semester of the 2009-10 school year. “We don't want to jump the gun too soon out of the chute,” Brilliant said.
       One reason for going slowly, he said, is that there could be Colorado Education Department obstacles in renaming Buena Vista's Montessori program. In addition, the school doesn't want to lose its name recognition - it's had the region's only public school Montessori program since 2004. This is especially key next year because the school will be a “magnet” program with no attendance area to draw from.
       In agreement is school parent Kristen Downs. A leader in the effort to market the Montessori program, she thinks it's especially important to keep the name because “somone looking for Buena Vista School is not going to find it on Bijou anymore.”
       She added: “Given all of the changes that the district is undergoing, it seems practical to keep the Buena Vista name at least until the dust has settled and people become acquainted with the school's new location on Pikes Peak. It's a simple change of address at this point to keep the Buena Vista Elementary name; however, the name should eventually include the word 'Montessori' to distinguish its unique program further.”
       Downs and several other Buena Vista parents had initially opposed the relocation, worried that it might cause a loss of students and that the district might even be looking for an excuse to shut the Montessori program down. Now she is convinced that “the district believes in it” - she just hopes that its leaders give it enough time to succeed.
       Based on current projections, Brilliant estimates an enrollment of 159 students in his school's Montessori program next year. The Washington building's listed capacity is 225, so there is some room for growth.
       Buena Vista currently has eight openings in the age 3-4 range for its primary (ages 3-5) classes next year.
       There also are openings in the upper elementary level (ages 9-12) for students who have never been in Montessori. The ideal approach for Montessori is to start from age 3 or 4, but Brilliant said he is OK with classrooms in which up to 10 percent of the students are new to that learning format (in which children typically work more independently than in traditional settings). Any parents who are interested are asked to set up an interview with Brilliant. The phone is 328-4100.
       When Montessori started in the 2004-05 school year, the plan by staff and parents had been to eventually make Buena Vista all-Montessori. In 2008-09, with Brilliant in his first year as principal, the school changed to a “dual track” plan, offering both Montessori and traditional education in most of the grade levels. Next year, those traditional students (estimated at about 80 in all) will attend Westside Elementary (unless they use the district's choice option to go elsewhere).

Westside Pioneer article