• North Middle School Student Recognized for Heroic Actions During a Crisis

    Posted by Devra Ashby on 6/2/2022 7:00:00 AM

    Ignatius Barajas and Ms. Bricker
    Ms. Bricker is a social studies teacher at North Middle School. Earlier this school year, one of the students in Ms. Bricker’s class started having a seizure. While it is natural to freeze up during a medical crisis like this, one student jumped into action to help Ms. Bricker by alerting the front office, moving furniture and objects out of the way, and keeping the area clear so Ms. Bricker could assist the student seizing. That student was 7th grader Ignatius Barajas. Yesterday, the Interim Superintendent, Dr. Nicholas Gledich, and Board of Education Director, Julie Ott, presented Ignatius with a certificate of appreciation for his heroic actions and quick thinking.

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  • Holmes & Odyssey Early College and Career Options at FCCLA State Conference

    Posted by Devra Ashby on 4/20/2022 12:00:00 PM

    On April 14 – 16, 25 students participated in an inspiring weekend of competition, recognition, and leadership development for the Holmes & Odyssey Early College and Career Options FCCLA members who attended the 2022 Colorado FCCLA State Conference. The conference took place at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel. Members had opportunities to engage in workshops and showcase the leadership skills they developed throughout the year.

    2022 FCCLA State Team

    Holmes Middle School had 11 students competing, while Odyssey ECCO FCCLA Chapter had 15 members experience all the conference activities. From state officers hosting attendees through all the general sessions, highlighting chapters for their advocacy of family and consumer sciences, to the outside speakers shared their leadership tips and hints, students were able to gain valuable leadership skills from this conference. 

    On Thursday, students experienced workshops and began competitions in over 43 competitive events. This year’s Colorado theme was FIND YOUR POWER. The students were challenged to find their own strength and traits within them to participate in the many opportunities the Ultimate Leadership Experience offers. The opening session brought all members, advisers, and guests to kick off this yearly conference. 

    Friday was filled with competitive events, a college expo and networking opportunities.

    The students, advisers and guests enjoyed a delicious banquet meal and state awards. Annie Friesema and Andrea Aragon, Odyssey ECCO FCCLA Advisers, both received the National FCCLA Mentor Adviser Award. Mrs. Friesema was also awarded the Colorado Outstanding District Consultant award. Kelly Gauck, the Holmes FCS (Family and Consumer Sciences) teacher received a 10-year adviser award. Holmes FCCLA Chapter won three awards; Community Service, Membership and received the Gold Merit chapter. 

    All the time and effort chapters put into competitive events paid off! Holmes’ members competed in seven events. On Saturday morning, the individual awards were announced. Each member received an FCCLA medal, gold, silver, or bronze. 

    The following Holmes MS members all won first place in their respective events:  Maverick McDonald in Career Investigation, Kaitlyn Deyoe in National Programs in Action, Campbell Riggs in Teach in Train, Elsie Walker in Nutrition & Wellness, Bryce McDonald, Sam Wilshusen & Jett Friesema together as a team in Sports Nutrition, Lillie Rice in Promote & Publicize FCCLA! Olivia White in Professional Presentation, Olivia Erlenbach in Chapter in Review Display. Kiley Romero earned a silver in her Chapter in Review Portfolio. Each student planned, prepared, and presented their STAR (Students Taking Action with Recognition) event using the FCCLA detailed rubrics. All competitors that place first or second qualify to attend the 2022 National FCCLA Leadership Conference held in beautiful San Diego, CA on June 28 - July 3. 

    2022 FCCLA State Team

    The following Odyssey ECCO FCCLA members in the Education & Training Pathway placed first in their events: Ava Friesema (Coronado) & Haley Cross (Palmer) in Focus on Children, Riley Walker, and Madeline Jonasen (Coronado) in Promote and Publicize, Makenzie Hartman (Coronado) in Teach & Train, Jordan Hamilton (Odyssey ECCO) in Career Investigation. Taiyah Mooney (Coronado) placed second in Say YES to FCS, and Brithany Garces (Odyssey ECCO) placed third in Career Investigation.  

    Odyssey ECCO FCCLA members in the Hospitality & Tourism Pathway received the following medals: Aidan Roberts (Achieve) and Canyon Sweum (Palmer) - silver in Culinary Arts, Kevin Moreno Silva (Palmer) and Olivia Schwarz (Bijou) - silver in Gourmet Food Presentation Savory, Emma Duran (Odyssey) – silver in Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation, and Wynter Kelley (Coronado) - bronze in Entrepreneurship. Olivia Vasquez (Bijou) served as a student judge for Gourmet Food Presentation Sweet.  

    2022 FCCLA State Team

    Colorado FCCLA is one of 52 state chapters of National Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America. FCCLA is a Career and Technical Student Organization focusing on family, career preparation, and leadership development. Colorado FCCLA started in 1946 and has grown to over 132 chapters with over 1,100 members. Participation with FCCLA including competitive events, chapter activities, and leadership opportunities can lead to a brighter future for all members. National FCCLA began in 1945 and is strong with over 165,000 members, making FCCLA one of the largest student organizations in the world. FCCLA is the Ultimate Leadership Experience. 

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  • Martinez Students’ Science Play Kicks Off 16-School Tour

    Posted by Devra Ashby on 4/5/2022 11:30:00 AM

    Trudy Ann is a doll who likes gumballs and catapults. Her best friend is a beach ball. And she’d do anything to escape the toy store! That’s the premise of “Push, Pull, Split, Spin,” a new science play by Martinez Elementary students.

    The show is touring D11 elementary schools for the next six weeks.

    Science to Stage

    Melissa O’Rear and Jen Lennon dreamed up Science to Stage last fall. “I love what happens when science and story collide,” Mrs. O’Rear says.

    Karl Heffernan and Annie Weaver welcomed Mrs. O’Rear into their classroom for three weeks. In one session, the fifth-graders wrote and performed infomercials advertising how simple machines make work easier. Another time, a guest speaker from Mad Science brought in cool gadgets to explore.

    Then the writing process began. The students brainstormed a setting, characters and plot. After deciding that Trudy Ann’s inventor fills his store with traps, the students had to design escape plans using simple machines. They also put actors on the Hot Seat, asking rapid-fire questions to help shape each character.

    Theatre Across Borders, Mrs. O’Rear’s theatre company, brought the students’ ideas to life with a script that showcases all six simple machines: lever, pulley, wheel and axle, inclined plane, wedge and screw.“We really encourage a ‘yes-and’ mindset,” Mrs. O’Rear says, “We wanted every student to see their unique contributions in the final script.”

    “It was the first play I had ever heard,” fifth-grader Victoria C. says, “and it’s the best story ever!”

    Hit the Road

    Once the script was complete, the actors only had 10 days to rehearse. Kate Hertz, Tracy Taylor and Sean Verdu had to memorize their lines and get comfortable using the play’s machines, including a catapult, seesaw, puppet stage and skateboard.

    “This show came together very quickly,” Sean Verdu says with a laugh.

    “Push, Pull, Split, Spin” had its big premiere on Monday, April 4, at Scott Elementary. They’ve still got 15 schools to go, plus four performances at the Millibo Art Theatre (April 23 and 30). Tickets to the Millibo shows are on sale at themat.org.

    “The cast has been amazing,” Mrs. O’Rear says, “Now we get to share this play with 1,400 students!”



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  • Palmer Athlete Scores Forever Family

    Posted by Devra Ashby on 4/1/2022 12:00:00 PM

    Alyssa Trujillo

    Alyssa Rodriguez-Trullijo may be known for finishing in the top 20 in the city for scoring during the Palmer high school girls basketball season, but she has a story that goes much deeper. You see, this Palmer junior was in the foster system for nearly a decade.

    “Right now, I should be in legal trouble," explains Rodriquez-Trujillo. "I shouldn't be doing well in school. I shouldn't be playing this sport. I kind of beat the odds. I did not grow up like any other teenage or little kid."

    Alyssa’s story started when her biological mom and dad lost custody of her and her two siblings due to neglect and addiction behaviors. Basketball became her lifeline. Leaning on her adult support system, she established a trusting relationship with her coach, Eric Trujillo. One day, Coach Trujillo got a call from Alyssa’s caseworker letting him know they would soon be moving her to another city.

    "So, my wife and I were like man if we can keep her here for a little bit - so temporally until they find her a permanent place in foster care. And then temporary - after a few weeks - turned into a couple of months, a couple of months turned into six months, six months turned into permanency placement, and then it turned into ‘we love this kid now’ and it just happened,” says Trujillo.

    In March of this year, Alyssa was adopted by Coach Trujillo and his family, making their home her permanent home. "I am just really excited to welcome Alyssa into our home and officially call you my daughter," added Mrs. Trujillo.

    So often we hear how D11 really is a family. In this case, that means so much more to Alyssa and the Trujillo family. #D11fam #D11Stories

    *Story adapted from and credited to Jake Gadon/KOAA News 5

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  • Biscuit the Therapy Dog

    Posted by Devra Ashby on 3/7/2022 12:00:00 PM


    My name is Biscuit and I have a job. I am an official therapy dog through Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD). My human mom practiced with me all types of silly requests such as sit, stay, and leave it while I was being bribed with small treats. I then had to prove I was willing to follow directions without the motivating treat (which wasn’t AS fun). After I easily passed the certification (I don’t understand why my human mom was so nervous), we had to focus on getting permission to visit my mom’s kindergarten class. Many conversations and permission slips later, I was introduced to a group of mostly giggly 5/6 year olds. It turns out these small humans leave many yummy crumbs around the room. And they seem love to pet me, read to me, and look at my ears. I am tough and just roll my eyes when they forget to be gentle or step on my tail. I get even by wagging my tail right in their face, which for some reason, most seem to think is funny. Some of the small humans were fearful of me, but I knew it was my job to show them how “chill” a big dog could be. Now they all fight to give me head or belly rubs. I don’t come everyday as its hard work. My body absorbs their “yucky” feelings and I need to be available when someone is having a tough time. I often snore after my hard day’s work.

    I love my human mom, my job, and these little humans who read to me while playing with my ears. And yes, the crumbs are yummy too.

    • A service dog is specially trained to help a person with disabilities. A therapy dog is specially trained to provide comfort and affection to people
      in a variety of situations.

    Biscuit was rescued at about 6 years of age and is now 13. You
    can visit Biscuit at Fremont Elementary with her human mom,
    Brenda Holmes-Stanciu

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  • Wilson Students Love Bigger

    Posted by DEVRA ASHBY on 2/11/2022 9:00:00 AM

    On a beautiful sunny February day in Colorado Springs, a small group of nine 4th and 5th graders from Wilson Elementary stand outside the Springs Rescue Mission donation site and excitedly put on shirts that say #LoveBigger. These shirts were given to the student council students as a gesture of thanks for their humble actions to "love bigger."

    In December, these amazing children worked with their teachers and adult leaders, Ilka Andino, Kelsey Snyder, and Maureen Becker to come up with a way to support those in our community who are most in need. They decided to sell candy canes as a fundraiser and raised a total of $600!

    On February 9, the children presented the check to representatives of the Springs Rescue Mission. They learned that through their act of kindness, the money raised would provide services like shelter, showers, food, clothing, and necessities for a person in need for a month.

    These amazing students learned that it doesn't take much to make a difference in someone's life and that a school is a place where they not only learn math, science, and literacy but also how to help their fellow citizens. We are proud of these future leaders!


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  • Music and Food for the Soul

    Posted by DEVRA ASHBY on 1/28/2022 10:00:00 AM

    Long before the pandemic, our amazing D11 cafeteria and kitchen teams held a special place in the hearts of so many students, staff, and families. They work tirelessly to serve the wholesome food that keeps our students energized and ready to learn. But they do so much more. They build relationships with children, they tie their shoes, listen to their stories, and they are trusted adults in the lives of so many of our students. This story demonstrates their heart and dedication to our D11 family.

    We received this story from Cristi Dozeman at Chipeta Elementary. Ms. Dozeman writes:

    During those hard times of COVID-19, it was very challenging as a lunch lady. In the beginning, it was hard to keep up with all the kids in the school. Missing their little smiles and cute jokes. I was the lunch lady that would wipe those little noses when they were runny or wipe those cute little messy faces. It's like we missed out on two years of their lives. Not being able to have that connection with them, not getting to know their names and not being able to hear their crazy stories have been so difficult.

    I wanted to have that connection with them and still have fun with them, but couldn't figure out a way. I thought to myself about what makes my kids happy and excited without even trying. MUSIC!!!! So I brought my speaker and hooked up my music so I could try to lighten up the mood in the lunchroom. I knew through music we could connect somehow.

    Just watching those babies dance and be silly for a change has been so refreshing. Even my staff has gotten in on the fun and I catch them singing and dancing as well. I didn't think things would be the same after all this, but we sure found a way to make it fun for the kids again. We found a way to empower these wonderful kids in a fun way. I love the fact that I could have this fun connection with them and everyone else through music.

    I am a very passionate person when it comes to music 🎶 and I am glad I got a chance to use that passion for them. I invite anyone that wants to come by and get in on the fun on Fridays at Chipeta to see what amazing kids we truly have. Thanks for listening to my short story.

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  • From Industry to the Classroom: One professional's story of dedication to students

    Posted by DEVRA ASHBY on 1/21/2022 9:00:00 AM

    SEAYWhat does true dedication to teaching students look like? One might say Craig Seay is demonstrating this in his new role as the state's FIRST Telecommunications Technologies career pathway instructor. You see, Mr. Seay didn't take the traditional route of becoming a teacher. 

    Mentoring and teaching young people in the technology industry seems to run in Mr. Seay’s DNA. He’s not only worked for seven years as a D11 District Support Technician, serving elementary, middle, and high schools by troubleshooting and repairing various technologies, but he has a background of training others on his vast knowledge.

    Mr. Seay is a retired USAF F-15 Aircraft Maintenance Technician and instructor who served 13 years overseas in Europe and Japan. At Sabin Middle School in D11, Mr. Seay helped students learn the aspects of D11 network administration. He holds a Colorado Department of Education authorization to teach information technology courses, which he is thrilled to do in the newest D11 pathway program, Telecommunications Technologies. In addition, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics with a minor in Aviation Safety from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and Associate of Science degrees in Instructor of Technology and Military Science and Aviation Maintenance Technology from Community College of the Air Force.

    Mr. Seay’s military past in the fighter aircraft community includes experience in aircraft maintenance, technical instruction, program administrator duties, small unit network administrator, and section supervisor. In addition, Mr. Seay’s career and educational highlights include:

    • Taught college accredited technical science courses;
    • Built and installed 18 computers in schools, pulled network cables;
    • Installed copper and fiber optics in two 8,000 sqft maintenance hangars during renovation;
    • Federal Communication Commission Technician class radio license.

    Mr. Seay is excited and ready to begin his role helping D11 launch the state's very first telecommunications pathway, helping students move toward success in a fast-moving, high-demand industry. We are thrilled to have someone like Mr. Seay working with students to prepare them for a lifetime of success!

    For more information on this pathway and the other award-winning D11 Career and Technology Education Pathways, visit www.d11.org/cte


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  • Marshall Fire - How Can We Help?

    Posted by PATRICIA CROSBIE on 1/10/2022

    All too often the kids throughout Colorado are competing against each other. But in tough, real-life situations, everyone in the state tends to stand together.

    That’s been evident in the last few weeks as schools across the state have looked at the devastation from the Marshall Fire in Boulder County. There has been a commonly asked question from districts throughout Colorado.

    How can we help?

    Colorado Springs District 11 was planning early in the process. Before the fire had been put out, the athletic directors in the district were formulating a plan to donate a full gate from a winter sports contest to go towards students affected by the fire.

    But they didn’t stop with themselves. The district leaders communicated with other area schools and within days had commitments from every Class 5A and 4A school in the Pikes Peak Region to join the cause.

    “From the onset, the more the merrier,” Coronado athletic director Jim Porter said. “The AD’s (here) are a great group of guys and girls and we figured if we put something together that others would just jump in without any persuasion.”

    Seeing the influx of schools willing to help is certainly something that warms Porter’s heart. His parents live in the vicinity of where the fire wreaked havoc and although they were outside of the evacuation zone, packed up and left their house out of precaution.

    Porter’s family was lucky, but he can’t help but think of those that didn’t have the same luck. Leaping to action wasn’t even a question.

    And the idea to encourage other schools to do the same stretches well beyond Colorado Springs. The general hope is that action will spring further action and other districts in other parts of the state will jump on board with the plan if they haven’t already.

    “From what I’ve seen, it’s already happening,” Porter said. “Other areas and schools are jumping in and doing something, whether it’s gate fees or donating clothes. Whatever they can do, we’ve already seen a lot of schools in other areas jumping on board.”

    There are several ways that parents, students, and fans can help in this situation, and perhaps the easiest one is attending a high school sporting event. After the winter break, competition has ramped back up and schools are using the enthusiasm of games resuming to provide help for those who were the victims of a tragic situation.

    “It’s winter season, basketball is a big attraction,” Porter said. “We have big games coming off the break so that was the thought. Let’s maximize those for those in need.”


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  • Small Things and Great Love

    Posted by DEVRA ASHBY on 6/5/2020 10:30:00 AM

    Car load of food

    By Logan Laszczyk

    COVID-19 shut many doors these past three months, but it could not shut out the love and the immeasurable impact of Mrs. Anna Aguilera and Mrs. Carrie Young. Aguilera and Young spearheaded a 10-week long effort that assisted families, students, and the community around Rogers Elementary School.

     Mother Theresa said, “We can do small things with great love.”

     What started off as small acts of kindness turned into a greater labor of love for both Aguilera and Young. They soon realized they would have to go above and beyond what Colorado Springs School District 11’s sack lunch program could provide. They wanted to serve all who needed.

     “All means all,” said Young, a 2nd-grade teacher who just finished up her 20th year at Rogers.  When she spoke of serving everyone, she referenced a message she heard by District 11’s superintendent, Dr. Michael Thomas in the summer of 2019. That message emphasized a commitment for District 11 to be an inclusive community and serve all students regardless of needs and circumstance, a message that resonated with Young.

     Doors opened as Aguilera and Young reached out to community resources. Masks were sown and given to families and businesses. Businesses began to donate boxes of food. A local restaurant owner and District 11 volunteer donated more than 500lbs of fruits and vegetables. 

     Rogers staff and members of the community anonymously donated money. That money went to purchasing basic food supplies like milk, bread, pasta, and hotdogs. A Facebook message even led to larger donations. Several large donations were received from Hanover, Colorado, including a donation that was three full carloads.  Personal toiletries and even craft supplies found their way into the capable and caring hands of Aguilera and Young.

     Volunteers and Rogers staff members responded too! Teachers, teacher aides, and school volunteers would divvy food into boxes for pick-up under Aguilera’s direction.  Families drove into Rogers’ parking lot and were greeted by a masked volunteer with a box of food and a smile. Those families who did not have access to transportation had a box of food delivered directly to their doorstep.

     Aguilera was and is the heart of Rogers ‘efforts to meet the basic needs of families. She serves as Roger’s Community Liaison. Her in-depth knowledge of community resources and her ability to speak Spanish is a huge asset. She runs an extensive food and clothing pantry that has given help and hope to dozens of families over the years.

    Aguilera noted the increasing generosity and ability to meet more needs. She noted that the first few weeks about 25 boxes were prepared. “We eventually increased to 35 baskets and were doing 42 baskets over the last three weeks,” Aguilera said.

    Rogers Elementary is community and family to both Aguilera and Young. They live near the school. The families and students of the school are an extension of their individual families. Although there were and are many needs in our Colorado Springs community, Aguilera and Young are optimistic. Whether it has been individual donations, churches, community agencies, or the community-at-large, people always have supported others in times of need.

    “My philosophy is if we can alleviate some basic needs and lessen stressors, our families have more time to read to their child or attend a school function,” Aguilera shared.

    Young added that her physical and emotional wellness is only stronger when those she serves are healthier as she held a sign toward cars driving by that said, “Honk if you have hope.”

    We all hope for better days ahead. Those days will come when people like Aguilera and Young open doors of hope and help with small but great acts of love to all in their community.

    Thank You Sign Honk if You Have Hope sign Food Baskets

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