Return to Headlines

Student, Staff in Spotlight During Fantastic 49

Fantastic 49 plaque for Christy Rotunno.

District 49 hosted the final Fantastic 49 celebration of the 2021-22 school year on June 9 before the regular monthly board of education meeting. One student and six staff members were recognized for demonstrating excellence.

Jay Drake and Rolf Grell, security team members at Skyview Middle School, were the first to receive honors. “We have a whole new security team at Skyview,” said Megan Anderson, dean of students. “To see everything these two have done to mentor them and show them how important student relationships are has been huge … I know students love their interactions with them every day.”

Andrew Crigger, an upcoming senior at Vista Ridge High School, was honored for his achievements as a student musician. As a top bass clarinet player in the state, Andrew was selected after rigorous tryouts to play in the 2022 Colorado All State Symphonic Band. “I would like to thank my parents and especially Mr. King, my band director. He is the one who pushed me to get to the place where I am today,” said Andrew.

Next in the line-up was Bridgitte Martin, special education coordinator for the Falcon Zone. Martin serves as a key resource for colleagues in the Falcon Zone. “When Bridgitte came in mid-year, she supported us in the most amazing way,” said Martina Meadows, principal at Bennett Ranch Elementary. “I couldn’t have done it without everyone in the Falcon Zone … everyone has been so collaborative,” added Martin.

Christy Rotunno, special education resource teacher at Springs Studio, received accolades for significantly impacting one student. The Welty Family nominated Rotunno for inspiring their daughter, who faces social challenges. Rotunno has helped her have the confidence to grow and overcome difficult situations. “I can’t say enough how fortunate I am to work with your talented daughter, Alyssa, and how grateful I am to have parents who understand the challenges we face as teachers,” shared Rotunno.

Peter Hilts congratulates David Knoche during Fantastic 49.

The following staff member honored was Kelley Graham, special education generalist teacher at Meridian Ranch Elementary. Graham was nominated for recognition by the Green Family. “We had a lot of stress and anxiety about coming here from another state and promoting inclusion for our son who has Down syndrome, and from the get-go, Kelley helped quell all those worries … I know I am not alone when I say she creates a lot of inclusion at our school,” shared Kelli Green.

The presentation concluded by recognizing David Knoche, executive principal in the iConnect Zone. Knoche has served D49 for 29 years and is retiring. “Mr. Knoche has accomplished many great things in D49,” said Andy Franko, iConnect Zone leader. “Springs Studio for Academic Excellence and Pikes Peak Early College would not exist without Mr. Knoche’s hard work, dedication and leadership … what makes Dave such a great leader are the relationships he builds with people, the kindness and generosity he shares, and his dedication to improving education for all kids … I wish him continued success and happiness.”

Fantastic 49 is the district’s recognition program that celebrates fantastic staff, students, and community members before the board of education meetings. A sincere thank you to Air Academy Federal Credit Union, Dion’s, Texas Roadhouse, and Whirlyball for donating gift cards for all honorees.


SMS security staff members receive awards during Fantastic 49.. Kelley Graham is honored at the June 9 Fantastic 49 presentation.. Bridgitte Martin is recognized during the June Fantastic 49 presentation.. Andrew Crigger receives an award during the Fantastic 49 celebration.



Amy Matisek