The Eagle Update

The Excel Academy Weekly Newsletter: January 10, 2021

Reminder: MLK, Jr. Day, Monday, January 17, 2022 - No School

Greetings Excel Community,

We are officially back in full school mode with the whole week ahead. This seems like a wonderful time to thank everyone who continues to support the health and well-being of our community by wearing masks and making sure to remain at home in cases of illness. Sandy Hinojosa and Ali Bruno, our fearless folks working on all things Covid-related, continue to make sense of the health guidance and updated information and they are so grateful for the communication from families. We are so thankful for their tireless efforts with this work; it enables us to remain in classrooms learning and teaching!

Gratitude is an area of focus this month in our social and emotional learning curriculum and something we make a habit of practicing at the school to recognize each other's efforts. This week, we are reminded:

"It is not happiness that brings us gratitude;

it is gratitude that brings us happiness."

As school leaders, there is nothing that brings Kresta or me more joy than observing in classrooms and hearing students ask and answer questions. Watching teachers push students to dig deeper and expand their thinking is a real bucket filler too. As we begin to fill our halls with new academic work over the next few weeks, we hope that as you walk our halls you too will be filled with the gratitude we are all feeling right now that we are in school, in person, learning, laughing, and growing together.

With immense joy for all we are doing these days,


Dr. Susan-Marie Farmen

Executive Director

Hearing and Vision Screening: January 25, 2022

Tuesday, January 25th we will screen all students in Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th grades, and students who are new to the school, and students with IEPs. If you are someone who wishes to exempt your child from hearing and vision screeing, please reach out to Ali Bruno, our school clinic aide at by January 21st.

Important Covid Updates

All healthy staff and students will be returning to school in-person as scheduled and masks continue to be required per public health order 21-006 in Jefferson County. We want healthy students and staff, those who are not positive for COVID or not symptomatic, to come to school daily. We are committed to safety and mitigation efforts that make that possible.

We also continue to work with, and rely heavily on, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) who are the experts responsible for the health and safety of our local communities as well as those around the state amid the pandemic.

We are not considering districtwide delays to our return, nor are we planning to implement remote learning as an entire district. However, we will consider remote instruction on a school-by-school basis should we have significant staffing shortages or not be able to operate in-person instruction effectively for other reasons. If the Omicron variant peaks over the next week as public health experts expect and we have to close schools or move to remote learning, we are optimistic that we will be able to return to in-person learning relatively quickly.

Isolations & Quarantines

As we return to work and school, we are updating our practices aligned with CDC guidance. Here is what you need to know:

  • Isolation (when COVID positive or symptomatic). Regardless of vaccination status, positive cases of COVID and those with symptoms should isolate for 5 days past symptom onset or positive test collection date for asymptomatic cases. The person can return to school on day 6 so long as they have not had a fever for at least 24 hours without using medication, and they no longer have symptoms. If you have symptoms you must stay home and we encourage you to keep testing. No test is required to return.

  • Quarantine (when exposed to COVID). Vaccinated asymptomatic people are not required to quarantine. Quarantines for asymptomatic, unvaccinated people exposed to COVID are now 5 days past the exposure date. If the unvaccinated person has not developed any symptoms of COVID since exposure, they can return to school on day 6. No test is required to return. Note that this also applies for schools in “outbreak status” as we have not yet received information that says otherwise.

COVID Testing

Our district strongly encourages testing, which we feel is key to keeping COVID out of our schools, giving our staff and families peace of mind, and being responsible citizens who consider the needs of others in our community. All staff and students are strongly encouraged to test if symptomatic regardless of vaccination status. See COVID testing sites here. CDPHE is providing free over-the-counter tests for parents, guardians, and caregivers to administer to school-aged children at-home. Click here to find out more.

Asymptomatic staff and students can continue to test weekly, however Mobile Health testing sites and schedules are changing after January 11 and we will be sharing more on that soon. Regular testing is especially encouraged during the months of January and February when public health officials believe the Omicron variant will be at its peak.

Student Athletic/Activity Testing

With the expiration of Jefferson County public health order 21-002, we encourage but will not require unvaccinated students participating in CHSAA sponsored athletics and activities to test on a weekly basis in the spirit of sportsmanship and for their own health and safety. Mask requirements remain in place.

Staff Testing Requirement for Unvaccinated Staff

All unvaccinated staff will continue to be required to regularly test. We need healthy staff to operate our schools and operations safely and efficiently and believe the regular testing we already have in place for unvaccinated staff support this effort. The first required test for unvaccinated staff is due on January 11. Please check the mobile health testing sites and schedules as they have changed and will no longer be in each high school daily. We do not anticipate any changes to testing requirements for unvaccinated staff members.

COVID Vaccination Clinics

Jefferson County Public Health and partners are hosting clinics to provide free COVID-19 vaccines in many locations across the county. Please check this page for more information.

Our commitment to every student has never been more critical and we are so grateful for #TeamJeffco who remain committed to serving students amid these challenges.

Leadership Coffee Chat- Thanks for the Connections!

Thank you for the opportunity to connect with you all and to hear what is working at Excel and where we can continue to focus our energies! Last week, our gifted and talented team spoke about their services and support for students, and Kresta Vuolo spoke about her most recent work and her experiences that brought her to Excel.

Our next Leadership Coffee Chat will be Friday, February 4, 2022 at 8:30 am. We will feature members of our Special Education Team and they will speak about how their efforts support students. Join us to connect, sip some coffee, and hear about the work of the great people working here at Excel!

Our New Assistant Director

Here is the link to learn more about Kresta Vuolo, our new Assistant Director. She jumped right into the work here and is already learning about students and making connections with families. We are so glad she is here and hope you have a chance to meet her soon!

Breakfast is Here at Excel

We are offering student breakfast at Excel each morning at 7:55 in the cafeteria. We believe it is important for students to start the day strong and we know families are more busy than ever as they get out the door each morning! Here is the basic menu for each day over the next two weeks. After these two weeks, families can sign up for their lunch and breakfast each week on the Sign Up Genius that will go out to the community. This year, lunches and breakfasts are free of charge for all students. For now, here is the upcoming menu that includes milk/juice:

Jan. 11 cereal w/ hard boiled egg

Jan. 12-oatmeal round w/ dried fruit

Jan. 13-cinnamon roll w/ juice

Jan. 14-zuchinni bread

Jan. 17-MLK Day-No School

Jan. 18- biscuit and jam

Jan. 19 blueberry bread and juice

Jan. 20 cereal w/ HB egg

Jan. 21 pumpkin bread w/ fruit cup

General Information

Dressing for the Weather

Please be sure ALL students are dressed appropriately for winter cold. We ask that students not wear shorts, be outside without coats, or wear footwear that will not protect them from the cold and wet when they are outside, especially in cases of emergency or field studies outside. If students are going outside, they need to wear warm clothing and if there is snow on the ground, they need snow boots or they must stay on the blacktop during their recess time. We want to make sure students have proper clothing and protection from cold, wet weather. If you or someone in your home needs a coat or proper winter attire, please reach out to Julie Smith in the office.

Planning Ahead: The Middle School Spring Musical Volunteers

Ms. Boyd is looking for volunteers to help prepare for this fun and entertaining endeavor! Please click on the link here to sign up and support.

Board of Directors

Meeting January 11, 2021 at 6 pm

Please mark your calendar for our next Board of Directors meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 11th at 6 pm.

If you would like to make a public comment at a Board meeting, please complete our Public Comment Registration Form (opens Friday before meetings at 5 pm. Closes at noon on BOD meeting day).

Excel Sports and Bonus Learning Update

Students are not required to do weekly testing at this time. Please note: MASK REQUIREMENTS REMAIN IN PLACE AND WILL BE ENFORCED AT ALL TIMES.

Classroom-Specific Information

Map Testing Data

Teachers will share information and data about student scores after they have had a chance to review the data. Those systems were closed off right at the start of break and after teachers take the next 7-10 days to review the information, they will share with families.

Cell Phones and Phone Watch Storage: New Procedure

Thank you for the overwhelming support as we switch to this new procedure to keep student cell phones stored away. We are asking that all students honor this expectation. As we have been communicating over the past few months, we have had a lot of phone use, texting, social media use, recording, and other messaging sent/received during school hours. We heard from many families that our efforts with the honor system were not enough. We had several instances of photos being taken of others, because of this, and in an effort to protect students from conversations at school that can be potentially harmful for themselves or others, we have chosen to use procedures that other area middle and high schools also use. Students turn in phones at the start of the day where they are stored until the end of the day. (The specifics were emailed to MS families.) We continue to ask that you please consider having your student leave their cell phones at home whenever possible.

We also continue to encourage all families to monitor the content on your child's phone and social media sites. Many sites do not allow children under age 14 use them, and dating profiles should not be created by students. Some of these postings are happening at all hours of the day/night in and out of school and are causing some students to miss hours of sleep and the issues created are taking up a lot of school time to sort through and resolve.

The staff of Excel is asking for your support in this shift as our goal is to continue providing a safe and inclusive school for every child and focus on educational endeavors.

Kids' Heart Challenge Road Trip January 10, 2022

On Monday, January 10th we kicked off this year's Kids Heart Challenge Road Trip! Students will learn how and why they need to take care of their hearts and have the opportunity to help others by raising awareness and funds for the American Heart Association. Click here for a Sneak Peek of the program! Fundraiser envelopes will be sent home in student’s Friday folders on January 14th.

Finn’s Mission will be your road map along the way! Check it out on the Kids Heart Challenge app for iPhone or Android, or online.

If you can help raise funds, the American Heart Association will put those dollars to work saving lives. Every dollar makes a difference. All students will participate in the activities whether you choose to raise donations or not.

Parents – you can join your student(s) on the road. We invite you to join us in at-home heart-healthy behaviors by accessing the KHC Experience.

Why do we Support the American Heart Association? 1 out of 3 American adults have high blood pressure and don’t even know it. Funds raised enable the AHA to ensure 200 million patients are covered through Target BP and their local health care options. Taking a challenge to improve your heart is an important step in Finn’s Mission. Understand more about High Blood Pressure HERE. Join the Kids Heart Challenge community on Facebook!

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.

4th-Grade Free Museum Opportunity

Fourth graders can take advantage of this awesome deal linked here.

Dean of Culture Corner


Each week we celebrate the commitment of students to exemplify our SOAR values in the past week! This week's students recognized for exemplifying these values are:

K-Brielle Miller

1-Grant Lovell

2-Boston Ratcliffe

3-Ryker Santos

4-Ewelina Janik

5-Harper Brooks

6-Argend Krasniqi

7-Zach Yanker

8-Natanya Ben-Akiva

Congratulations to everyone who was acknowledged in any of the SOAR values this past week. Thank you for all you are doing to make Excel a safe and joyful place to learn and grow. Keep up the great work Eagles.

Message from Ms. Anderson

.Here is the link for more information about me, and my role as the Dean of Culture.

Reading Buddies

Excel’s cross age Reading Buddies Program is started in 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.

Action Items

Parking/Drop Off/Pick Up: No Parking or Drop Off in Lot

  • Please do not park in the lot in the morning even briefly. This is staff parking and if you park here to drop off a child, staff cannot park.
  • If picking up a student during the school day, please do not leave your vehicle running in the fire lane/front door area.
  • 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.

PTO Events and Updates

PTO Winter Carnival Update

Have no fear, the Winter Carnival is still happening! We decided to push this beloved event to the early part of 2022 to allow for more time to plan. We will still be doing crafts and allowing our middle schoolers to have their own game/activity booths to earn money toward their field studies. Look for more information to come out very soon, but in the meantime we need volunteers! If you’d like to participate in coordinating this fun event, please reach out to Laura Anderson at

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! 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.