Gilpin youth return to their ole stomping grounds

Students begin another year anew

by Lisa Lopez

Thursday, August 9, brought some life back again to the Gilpin County School for the annual Back to School night. This has become a bit of a ritual for the kids to reconnect with their school, friends, and teachers, and an opportunity to start out the new school year on the right foot.   In an effort to become more paperless, the staff had several computers set up on a table in the atrium. Secondary principal Alexis Donaldson and technology teacher Sunny Vincent were on hand to assist students and parents in accessing their accounts through Infinite Campus, so they could print out their schedules, and sign online registration forms.

Along with striving to go paperless, the Smartboards have mostly gone away, and have been replaced with large TV monitors in all the classrooms. This new technology will allow teachers to instruct the students by bringing up educational material on their computers, and having it display on the big screens for the whole class to see. Spanish teacher Su Henry is really excited about it and plans to show more cultural videos in her classes.

The secondary school and high school welcome four new teachers this year. Mike O’Connell will be teaching high school Science, Dawn Blake is the new Math teacher, Language Arts is taught by Anita Meyers, and Katura Sales will oversee elementary P.E., high school Health, and will help to coach middle and high school basketball. Katura is a recent graduate of Gilpin, graduating in 2013. She is thrilled to be back at the same school she attended and is also continuing her education in Athletic Training and Exercise Science.

A few sixth graders were found preparing themselves for the move up to middle school. Joei Sutton and Remi Rich were both a little nervous, but happy, and looking forward to a new experience. Ella Lindenphaler says, “I’m super excited and am only worried that I won’t be able to open my locker!”

Elementary principal Heather Huntoon is looking forward to the new school year. This is her third year at Gilpin after having spent 18 years teaching for Clear Creek Schools. Two new teachers have been added to her staff. Marcie Morris is replacing Ms. Ann in Montessori, and Jackie Walby will be the new 5th grade teacher, with the retirement of Ms. Lutes. Ms. Huntoon says it makes a big difference to be able to keep the class sizes small at Gilpin. She speaks proudly of all the elementary teachers, and credits them with the academic success the elementary has had in the last couple of years.

The beginning of the school year also marks the start of football season. The new field is ready to go, and the high school players have been practicing on it for the past week. The artificial turf is a huge upgrade from the grass, and much less maintenance. Athletic Director Jeff Schuessler (aka Coach Schue) explained keeping the grass in good shape was quite a task. Toward the end of the season it would get pretty beat up, and as the temperatures dropped watering it also became a problem. The track will be complete in about three weeks, and the entire field area will be fenced by the end of the month. There are also some high-tech lights on the field now, so no more having to bring lights in and set them up every time. The bleachers will remain as they are for this year, and future plans for more site improvements are not certain at this time.

Toward the latter part of last year, several changes were put in place to increase security at the school. Superintendent David MacKenzie stated there are now cameras in most of the common areas of the building, including all entrances. The main door of the school, the entrance by the library, and the north entrance by the atrium are always locked from 8:00 – 4:00. Staff members monitor the doors as the students arrive in the morning. Deputy Lee Ramsey with the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office, is the School Resource Officer and is at the school throughout the day, and remains the main contact for all security issues. An active shooter training session was coordinated with local police departments and conducted at the school over the summer break. School officials are committed to the safety of our students and continue to work toward providing the best comprehensive safety plan for the community.

Welcome back past students and new students, past teachers and new teachers. Enjoy your year, and may it end as great as it begins!



Photo #1 –  New sixth graders a little hesitant, but anxious to become middle schoolers.

Photo #2 – Old student and new teacher Katura Sales is prepared to start her new career.

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