EDITORíS DESK: Good news from our schools

       School successes are always fun to write about, especially when they come unexpectedly. Take West Middle School. Its math team didn't have enough students to enter all the categories at the District Math Competition. Some team members even forgot their calculators, for pete's sake. And yet somehow West still won 11 of the 18 possible awards.
       Then we can move over to Howbert Elementary, the pride of Pleasant Valley. No longer content to be one of the very best schools in District 11, Howbert's resounding scores on last spring's Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) tests raised it to 30th among the state's 1,032 elementaries in the recently released Student Accountability Report (SAR) statistics and, at the same time, qualified it for the John Irwin Award that goes to schools whose scores are in the state's top 8 percent.
       Holmes Middle School earned the same award for the second year in a row. And, if you get a chance to check on such things, you will see that it is also the only middle school in District 11 to earn an Excellent rating on the SAR.
       Then there's little Pike Elementary, which every day scoffs at the adage that kids from lower-income backgrounds can't learn. In fact, it was very likely the prodigious gains by students identified as "economically disadvantaged" on the '08 CSAPs that nudged Pike from its former "Average" status up to "High" - not to mention recognition as the top Title 1 school in Colorado.
       Bottom line: These are Westside kids doing all this great stuff (with maybe an outside transfer here and there, but that's fine). And it's the result of smart, tough, result- oriented teaching and administrating, no molly-coddling. Think about it. These are kids who might be smart enough some day to find better solutions than trillion-dollar bailouts. OK, on to Christmas!

- K.J.