The Eagle Update

The Excel Academy Weekly Newsletter: November 8, 2021

Greetings Excel Community

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our spirit week. The creative outfits and hairdos were absolutely awesome! We are so fortunate to have staff that really get into the spirit too. It is always inspiring that we create so many opportunities for joy. Even though we continue to work in the shadow of the pandemic, we are moving forward with laughter and we connect with care in spite of the necessary distance we must keep. We are excited to share that vaccines are now available for students age 5 and up and that information is linked here. Some families have already started taking advantage of this opportunity. Keep in mind that students who are vaccinated do not have to be quarantined when they are exposed or if there is a suspected exposure. This helps everyone stay in school and continue learning.

Here are some other exciting updates:

  • Mr. J. Lopez starts tomorrow as our new middle school social studies teacher. He brings a wealth of experience serving our country in a variety of ways and lots of teaching experience. Please be sure to welcome him.
  • Mr. David Cardenas, a parent of a kindergartener and second-grade student, has joined the staff to support as a para in middle school. He is a licensed teacher with multiple years of experience teaching middle school and brings with him a love of teaching.
  • We have some former para subs who are able to rejoin our community and are excited to support again now that their work and home lives provide that flexibility!

As I shared last week, we continue to interview for a few key para and para sub roles to increase our support of all students as we enjoy in-person learning this year but continue to navigate Covid concerns.

This month is often a time when we take stock and think about all we have that enriches our lives. I am deeply grateful for the time I spend with students and families and the opportunity to learn together as we engage in this sacred work. This past week, two third-grade students came by to say, "We didn't have anything we had to do here but we missed seeing you and wanted to come by and say hi." Another student stopped by and said, "Dr. Farmen, you seem really super busy. Maybe you just need to leave today and take a vacation day. I think that is good for you to do and I worry about you being so busy!" Friday I walked to the playground and was greeted with a ton of fifth-grade hugs. These are wonderful things that leave me grateful daily.

Yes, some days are busy, but these sweet moments with such caring and kind kiddos really cause my heart to overflow with joy. Thank you for raising such thoughtful kiddos and for trusting us with them each day. When I take stock of all I have that enriches my life, the students and families I serve are an essential part of those blessings.

Enjoy the week ahead,

Dr. Susan-Marie Farmen

General Information

Veteran's Day Events

Be sure to dress in your red, white, and blue on Thursday, November 11, 2021.

National Junior Honor Society is facilitating the collection of letters and cards from our student body in all grade levels to sent to veterans at the Veteran's Hospital.

A note from Ms. Williams' second-grade class:

This past week we wrote and decorated postcards for Veterans. I give them to my sister at Green Ridge Memory Care Facility, to deliver to her residents. On November 11th at 10:20am we have a Google Meet with her residents where we will thank them for their service and sing the Star-Spangled Banner. We did this last year and it was special for these residents that haven't seen their families due to Covid limitations or due to not having family in the area, it brought a light to their day.

Information for Lunches Moving Inside for Winter

As the weather changes to cooler temps, we are moving inside for lunches. We also know that many students from age 5 and up are now getting vaccinated. Our hope is that as students are vaccinated and the weather changes and we move inside, we can continue to maintain seating charts to track any potential exposures for students. We realize that being outside is a great option and when the weather permits, we will do so.

Leadership Coffee Chat

Thank you for attending this event! We got to hear from our new Business Manager, Keri Lee and our Dean of Culture, Marisa Anderson, shared more about her role, her work, and the impact for students and staff. Thank you to everyone who attended and shared feedback to support our next steps to communicate about things that matter to you! Our next Leadership Chat will be Friday, December 3rd at 8:30-9:15am. Our social workers, Jami Bamat and Ashley Bruno, will speak about their work and support of students.

Middle School Principal Council 2nd Meeting

We had our second meeting and discussed our notes from last time and students shared ideas about our next trimester. These students are super engaged and excited to provide insights about their experiences. We discussed plans for some students to support with prospective family tours, learn how to do the morning announcements, and we meet with Jeffco this week to discuss our social media platforms that these student leaders can help operate. Stay tuned!

Excel Sports

Basketball Practice Days/Times

B Team: Practice Mon-Thurs from 3:30-4:30

A Team: Homework/Study Table from 3:30-4:30/ Practice Mon-Thurs from 4:30-5:30

Other information:

  1. Parents can pick up their students in the carpool line after practice.
  2. The basketball fee is $75: The fee will appear in Jeffco Connect sometime next week.
  3. 21/22 Basketball Schedule
    1. Please note there may be changes to the schedule due to weather or Covid health issues. We will do our best to inform families of these changes in a timely manner.
  4. Covid testing and vaccination requirements
    2. Please email test results to Andrea Gansen: ​​

If you have not signed up please follow the below steps:

The sign-up for basketball can be found on the website. Hover over "programs" tab at the top of the page; hover over "clubs & activities"; then click on "bonus learning". You will see the google form to register on the page.

Classroom-Specific Information

Proper PE Attire

On PE days, students need to wear clothing and footwear that support safe movement. Please see this link. Also, please note, flip flops and slides are not shoes that students can wear to school on any day. These come off easily and cause injuries on the playground. Thanks for helping us keep everyone safe.

Debate Bonus Learning-Started November 2nd at 3:20-4:20 pm

We are ready to start doing our Debate League once again. Several students have expressed an interest in joining the debate team. This is considered a Bonus learning class and is open to students in grades 6-8. You will need to call the office and register your student. Please note that per Jeffco policy, students will need to give the office proof of vaccination and/or weekly Covid testing results to be able to participate.

There is a one-time fee of $15 to join the Charter Debate League. This covers League fees. We start Tuesday, Nov 2 from 3:20-4:20 pm and meet in the library. For the first few months, we will learn and practice debate skills. The actual tournament dates are not set yet, but usually run every other Tuesday starting in February and going through April.

PE: Martial Arts Fundraising Opportunity

Personal Achievement Martial Arts is offering a six-class, after school opportunity for students and all proceeds go to Excel Academy! Sign up linked here:

November 15, 17, and 29; and December 1, 6, and 8. They are also joining Ms. Pezzulo for PE classes on November 1-5. This is a wonderful chance to try out something new, practice discipline, and be fit. Contact for more details.

Dean of Culture Corner

Message from Ms. Anderson

In case you missed it last week, sharing this information about this role and the support of students, families, and staff. Many schools have Deans of Students, or Academic Deans. Some schools have Deans of Climate and Culture. As students returned to in-person learning this year, we wanted to use some of our ESSER funds to support the social and emotional needs of students.Here is the link for more information about me, and my role as the Dean of Culture.

SOAR at Excel

These are the latest winners of our weekly drawing. Congratulations to students who continue to demonstrate values that contribute to a positive school culture!

Kinder- William Jeffcoat

First- Caleb Lopez

Second- Amelia Anderson

Third- Paityn Downing

Fourth- Soren Green

Fifth- Christian Martin

Sixth- Ella Heintz

Seventh- Gavin F.

Eighth- Julian Vigil

Self-Discipline / Outstanding Effort / Accepting of Others / Resilient

Students who were announced on November 29th. Congratulations! Keep up the wonderful effort Eagles!

Barrett Sawyer-Kindergarten

Bentley-Grade 1

Brooklyn McGary-Grade 2

Sawyer Bolejack and Noah K.- Grade3

Maddie Trenchev-Grade 4

Nona Thompson-Grade 5

Cara Foster-Grade 6

Leo C.-Grade 7

Jadyn Keith-Grade 8

Trimester 1 Student Award Ceremonies

Because we want to celebrate our student successes as much as possible, this year we will have short award ceremonies at the end of each trimester! Our elementary and middle school students will receive awards for high academic achievement, a certificate for those who were weekly SOAR winners, high achievement in Specials for K-5, Sportsmanship in sports for 6-8, and a special Eagle Ambassador award selected by classroom teachers for individuals who exemplify each of Excel’s values: self-discipline, outstanding effort, accepting of others, resilience, on a regular basis. Of course we know that not all students receive academic awards and this can be difficult. We still want to honor our high achievers. Additionally, teachers work hard to engage their class in conversations about the importance of progress and working hard. Parents will be notified if their child will be receiving awards by classroom teachers. Parents are welcome to come to the award ceremonies, hosted in the gym, with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the past week.


8:30-8:50 grades K and 1

9:00-9:20 grades 2 and 3

9:30-9:50 grades 4 and 5

10:00-10:20 grade 6

10:30-10:50 grades 7 and 8

Reading Buddies

Excel’s cross age Reading Buddies Program is starting Trimester 2! This is a cooperative learning model that pairs younger-student classrooms with older-student classrooms with reading time. Younger students practice reading their leveled reading with older students who assist and ask questions. Older students can also read some higher leveled reading books with reading comprehension questions.

Benefits of a Reading Buddies Program:

“Little Buddies”

  • Younger students get peer modeling of fluency, expression, and phrasing.

  • Younger students get a positive role model.

  • Interactions can improve oral language skills like vocabulary.

“Big Buddies”

  • Older students develop important social-emotional skills like empathy & patience.

  • Older students who struggle to read at grade level develop confidence.

  • Promotes and strengthens responsibility and leadership skills.


  • Can incentivize both younger and older students.

  • Builds community in the school.

Community, Care, and Belonging Shout Outs

  • Wonderful participation from staff and students in Spirit Week! #belonging
  • Staff helping with coverage! #community

Family Learning Nights

Coming soon: a calendar for upcoming nights in this section. This will include dates, times, speakers, topics, and links! Stay tuned.

Cell Phones/Texts/Emails

We continue to have students keeping phones in pockets and spending a lot of time out of class to go to the restroom and text/post. This is a reminder that all students must turn off and store all technological devices when at school. This was always a policy and we clarified by naming various devices. We have experienced a strong spike in phone/online exchanges between students that cause concern for families and often spill over into school. We strongly encourage families to monitor the content students access and view the chats students engage in on their phones. Some of the images, comments, language, and student sharing can be important discussion points for families. We ask that students not have cell phones of any sort turned on at school during the school day in an effort to protect them from conversations at school that can be potentially harmful for themselves or others.

Action Items

Masks for Students

Please send your student with more than one mask each day. Currently, we are going through hundreds of masks which is not sustainable. We remind students each day and many continue to only come with one. Cloth masks can be very helpful because they can be washed and they do not have strings that break.

Parking/Drop Off/Pick Up

  • Please only park in designated spots. If picking up a student during the school day, please do not park in the fire lane/front door and please do not leave vehicles running.
  • Please only drop off students in the morning drop off line, please do not use the parking lot or the street near the trash cans/playground. These are not drop off areas.

Covid Testing Information

Please remember JCPH and Jeffco require weekly Covid testing for all unvaccinated students participating in any after school activities/bonus learning starting the week of October 25th. Please make a plan to work this into your schedule starting the week of October 25th to ensure student participation in these activities/sports. Please read this notice for details on the bonus learning testing requirements. Weekly test results (starting the week of October 25th) should be sent to:

PTO October Events and Updates

Mr. Gobble

Help us fill Mr. Gobble the Turkey, with our "hands of gratitude" this November! Look for your Gobble Hands to be sent home this week in Friday Folders. Your child can write something they are thankful for on the hand (aka turkey feather) and return it to school November 8-19 where we will build Mr. Gobble’s feathers with words of encouragement and thankfulness.

Jack's Jams Fundraiser

This fundraiser will run from 11/21 – 12/5. Grab the perfect hostess gift, Thanksgiving table addition, or stocking stuffer while supporting Excel Academy and a good cause! Drop by Jack’s and Steamers at Five Parks, buy a jar (or six) of Jack’s delicious jam, and mention Excel Academy. See jam varieties here:

Candy for Troops

The PTO will be collecting all your leftover Halloween candy from Nov 9-12 for Soldiers Angels Organization which sends these treats to service member overseas. Any sealed/prepackaged candy is acceptable. A green can by the front office will be the collection point. We'll be delivering the candy over the weekend, so all donations need to be at school no later than 3pm on Friday the 12th. Thanks!

PTO Board Update

We want to let everyone know that Bel Scroghram has decided to step down from her role as PTO President due to personal reasons. We appreciate the many contributions and hours she has given to our Excel Community and we wish her the best as she continues to be a part of the Excel family. John Lovell will serve as the acting president. The PTO Board would also like to remind everyone in our community that we will always support a happy and healthy environment for our children to learn and grow. We support the Excel teachers, staff, administration and families both in and out of the school with a goal to build a better community together.

Love for Excel Silent Auction and Gala

Tickets are available for purchase!

  • It's not too late to get your tickets for our silent auction gala! We have sold 64 tickets so far and there are only a few left. Simply text the word "excel" to 843-606-5995 and follow the link to apply.
  • Can't attend the event in person? THAT'S OK! Text the number above, visit the link, and you will have an option to purchase an ONLINE BIDDING ticket. This will allow you to still bid on silent auction items the night of the event without actually being in attendance.
  • ALL BIDDING WILL BE DONE ELECTRONICALLY! That's rushing to the table to see if you've been outbid before the auction closes. You will receive a message from the site letting you know you've been outbid, giving you the option to raise your bid if you'd like. It's that easy! And NO WAITING in a checkout line at the end of the night! It's as easy as one click to checkout and then you pick up your item(s).
  • You can also sponsor an educator. Our staff works so incredibly hard and we would love for all to be able to attend at no cost. Please choose the “Sponsor An Educator” option when you purchase you tickets. Please note, we cannot guarantee which staff member will receive your ticket, but it will be gifted with a note that it was purchased by your family.

Change in Covid Testing for Athletic/Bonus Learning Started Last Week

Please read here about the changes to athlete testing and students enrolled in bonus learning here at Excel. All UNVACCINATED students in a sport or bonus learning must be tested weekly or they are not able to participate in these opportunities per JCPH guidance. Starting this week, Oct. 25th. See link here: Update for athletes and bonus learning.

  • Current game schedule-subject to change.
  • Testing: To participate in the free-testing option offered through the district, locations and schedules can be found on the COVID testing website. Parents can also choose to test at other locations and share results via email with the school. (
  • Vaccination Status: Students who have been vaccinated should confirm with the school that we have their correct vaccinated status. Many of you have shared your student's vaccination card with us already. We now have access to a statewide database so if you have not shared your student's vaccination card you can email and confirm we have the information. (