Sofia Lange, a sixth-grader at North Routt Community Charter School leans backward with help from new teacher Brandon LaChance, during an exercise Monday during the first day of school as her classmates wait to catch her.

Photo by Jack Weinstein

Sofia Lange, a sixth-grader at North Routt Community Charter School leans backward with help from new teacher Brandon LaChance, during an exercise Monday during the first day of school as her classmates wait to catch her.

Charter school bursting at the seams

North Routt Community Charter School enrollment capped this year

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North Routt Charter's first day

The 2009-01 school year began Monday for North Routt students, but at least some of the focus is toward next year and a new school building.

The 2009-01 school year began Monday for North Routt students, but at least some of the focus is toward next year and a new school building.

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North Routt Community Charter School sixth grader Zava Zupan discusses a short essay with new teacher Brandon LaChance on Monday during the first day of school.

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Fourth-graders Tell Belton and Ezra Tebbenkamp take a break from a volleyball game Monday during P.E. class to chat. It was the first day of school at North Routt Community Charter School.

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North Routt Community Charter School first grader Emmitt Meyring draws his favorite thing about the first day of school toward the end of the day Monday.

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New physical education and outdoors teacher Lori Raper observes as third- through fifth-graders participate in an activity during P.E. class.

— The North Routt Community Charter School is bursting at the seams.

The K-8 school in Clark, which began its 2009-10 academic year Monday, has its largest enrollment with 66 students this year, up from 59 last year.

"This is actually our ninth year of operation, and we are currently at capacity," Director Colleen Poole said about the number of students and teachers at the site, which is capped at 75 through a special use permit from Routt County.

Poole added that if the school receives inquiries for additional students, they likely would be placed on a waiting list.

Fortunately, relief is on the way. In August, the school received a $3.1 million grant from the state's Building Excellent Schools Today program to construct a new $4.7 million building. The grant, administered by the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board, covers 65 percent of the cost of the new building. The school is responsible for the rest.

Poole said the school additionally has received a $500,000 grant and another $200,000 through pledges and donations, leaving the amount to be raised at about $900,000, which it will do through various fundraising efforts this year.

Officials hope to open the new building next fall, if not in time for the start of the 2010-11 school year. The facility will be 12,000 square feet, tripling the school's existing space, and it will accommodate between 90 and 100 students.

"We're at 66 right now, so we do have some room for growth," Poole said. "We've been growing about 10 students a year, so we'll probably fill that in no time."

To accommodate the growth, the school hired Lori Raper as its full-time physical education and outdoor program teacher. In the past, students had P.E. classes every day and participated in outdoor programming, but the programs were run by classroom teachers, and there was no set curriculum, Poole said.

One of Raper's first tasks will be to create that curriculum. She said the experience will be a new one for her, but she added that it would build off what the school has done in the past with outdoor programming such as hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trips.

The school also hired Brandon LaChance as its new sixth-, seventh- and eighth- grade teacher to replace a faculty member no longer with the school. LaChance spent part of Monday helping his students get comfortable with one another by participating in trust falls.

Each student took his or her turn falling backward into the arms of their classmates.

"I was kind of freaked out because I didn't know if they were going to catch me or let me fall," said seventh-grader Delainie Gonsoir, who was caught by her classmates.

LaChance said it's important to establish that trust between students early in the year. Those relationships could come into play when the outdoor programming begins.

"It's creating that team atmosphere," he said. "It creates confidence, expectations and accountability - a lot of words we're starting to discuss and introduce to the middle school kids."

The first- and second-graders at the school ended their first day by drawing pictures of the favorite things they learned and did Monday.

First-grader Emmitt Meyring wrote that he learned how to count to 100, and he drew a picture of himself playing on the playground with his friends. Emmitt said his first day at school was a good one.

"I got to meet all my teachers and my friends, and all that stuff," he said. "I'm looking forward to learning a lot of stuff" this school year.

- To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

james regan 5 years, 3 months ago

The September 1st edition of your paper highlights the growth of the charter school in Clark. I have been following its progress for many years as my sister, Kathy Regan, has been volunteering there as a physical education instructor for the last seven years. This entails donating supplies, creating lesson plans, and giving her time. There are loads of kids up in North Routt that fondly remember their times with "Miss Kathy". Kathy is an expert in the field of adaptive physical education, and is bent on getting our youth to embrace a lifelong agenda of exercise and fitness. The charter school has been something of a passion for Kathy and she never fails to remind me of its growth and accomplishments. Against this background I was shocked that Colleen Poole, the director, expresses her delight in the hiring of a salaried PE teacher as opposed to the previous situation: "In the past, students had P.E. classes every day and participated in outdoor programming, but the programs were run by classroom teachers, and there was no set curriculum, Poole said". This most certainly was not the case, and I must wonder how in touch with her school Ms. Poole actually is. My sister will be upset to see me editorializing, but Kathy has put countless hours into the charter school. To imply that the physical education has previously been haphazard and in the hands of teachers preoccupied with their usual subjects is to ignore the efforts of a woman who has been an unfailing champion for the charter school. Ms. Poole might ask some of the local kids eating ice cream at the Clark Store if they remember "Miss Kathy". Jim Regan MD, Denver

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