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POWER Zone Begins School Year on High Note

 A Warm POWER Zone Welcome to 2019 


To ring in school year 2019-20 the D49 POWER Zone opened up the doors of Vista Ridge High School for its third-annual neighborhood barbecue. 


Families gather for the POWER Zone neighborhood BBQ at VRHS, Aug. 23  Attendees enjoyed a classic BBQ dinner, games for the kids, and the opportunity to visit booths to learn more about clubs and activities at the high school. “We came out to have fun,” remarked Sonia Pyrtle, D49 parent.


The community celebration Aug. 23, capped a busy start to the year, marked by some noteworthy milestones in the POWER Zone, including the opening of Inspiration View Elementary School in the Banning Lewis Ranch neighborhood. The completion of IVES signified the conclusion of two major D49 construction projects supported by the 3B MLO passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2016. 


A New vision takes shape in the POWER Zone Inspiration View Elementary School welcomed first students on Aug. 2, 2019


The school’s vision is inspired by the Kennedy Center Definition of Arts Integration highlighting engagement in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both. As an example, IVES Principal Kristy Rigdon suggests if students are learning about ratios and proportions in math, they may do this by learning perspective standards in art. 


"We are all about fostering the passion talents of all of our students,” Rigdon said. "I think we have magic to do and we’re going to make it happen.” 


On the first day of school, IVES students learned the principles outlined by a learning strategy known as the Actor’s Toolbox to begin their journey within the arts-integrated focus of the new school. They practiced an exercise that reminds them actors use their bodies, voices and imaginations along with concentration and cooperation as tools to stay calm and focused actors in the learning process.


With fingers pressed to their foreheads at one point during the exercise, IVES students imagined themselves working through a given scenario. 

IVES student practices the Actor's Toolbox techniques on the first day of school, Aug. 2

“That’s the coolest thing to see because you know when they open their eyes, and we finish with the Actor’s Toolbox you know they’re going to be on [focus],” explained Erica Colon, fourth-grade teacher at IVES. 


The staff expanded the learning opportunity at the end of August at an open house engagement for parents of IVES students. As parents explored the principles their students apply in the classroom the IVES team shared more about the journey to opening an elementary school with an arts-integrated education philosophy.  


“I think it’s amazing to be a part of a new school and a new staff from the get go,” said IVES fourth-grade teacher Eleanor Lambert. “We are embracing each other and supporting each other and learning how to do things from reading data to working on actors toolbox and everything in between.”

An IVES class gathers at the start of class on the first day of school   

Positive Community Produces Positive Results


Part of the “in between” Lambert described for the staff of IVES was a pre start-of-school workshop to take in the values outlined by the Capturing Kids’ Hearts(™) program.  In the 19-20 school year the POWER Zone will continue its commitment on its campuses to upholding the CKH principles established by the Texas-based Flippen Group. 


“It creates a common agreed upon framework for how we expect all staff within the POWER zone to interact with students,” said Zone Leader Dr. Mike Pickering. 


The POWER Zone adopted the standards in 2015 when it recognized CKH supports the zone focus points of school climate and safety along with academic performance. “Relationships and culture have the biggest impacts on student learning and achievement and this philosophy supports both,” Pickering explained. 


In what Pickering described as a crowning achievement, Ridgeview Elementary School enters the school year as a two-time CKH National Showcase School. “It recognizes the dedication of our staff and students in creating a mindset of the community,” said RVES Principal Kimberly Moore. “If you have a child’s heart, you have a child’s mind, and our staff truly believes this.”

RVES principal Kimberly Moore greets students on the first day of school

Pickering also explained overall academic achievement and growth based on state assessment is looking stronger in the POWER Zone as evidenced by the results of the 2019 Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS). 


“We have a shared sense of urgency to continue on this trajectory,” said POWER Zone Executive Principal Theresa Ritz. “A safe and collaborative environment, supported by the Capturing Kids' Hearts process, is at the core of this academic success.  We are proud of our students and staff!” 


The 19-20 school year will also see the POWER Zone grow by more than 400 students, pushing student enrollment past 4,800 in the POWER Zone alone. This sign of a growing community will create a learning opportunity for leaders as the school year rolls on. 


“With so many new students brings many more exciting opportunities for kids, but also some challenges in ensuring we are managing additional staffing and materials needs effectively as well,” said Pickering. 

David Nancarrow