SCZ Community Newsletter

February 2023

From the Desk of Sean Dorsey

I hope you all had a restful break as we have had a busy month back already. We were able to administer our family and staff surveys at the end of last semester and just finished up our student survey at the end of January. We had 371 employees participate, 573 families, and 2323 students take part in our surveys. We value your input on these surveys and use this information for continuous improvement.

Our building staff have looked over the data, gathered input and come up with action plans to move forward with continuing the good work we are already doing while putting 1-2 action items into play in order to make our schools an even better place. All of the results below were rated on a 5 point scale.

As you look over the results below, we invite our families to give feedback on how we can continue to maintain our top scores and how we can raise our lower scores at our Sand Creek Zone Partners meeting on April 11th at 5:30pm at Horizon Middle School. These surveys and our follow up provide us with invaluable feedback that guides our actions to be the best schools for you and your family.

We know that you have a choice in where you send your students to school and we appreciate you choosing us. The choice window is open for the 2023-2024 school year in D49 and we encourage you to tell others about the good things happening in the Sand Creek Zone schools!

SCZ Family and Student Survey Results

Overall in the zone, our top scoring items (on a 5 point scale) were:

Student Survey:

1. I believe my principal is a good leader. 4.31

2. I believe my learning is important at my school. 4.14

3. I have opportunities to be successful at my school. 4.13

Family Survey:

  1. I believe the school is clean and well maintained. 4.37
  2. I am treated with respect at this school 4.35
  3. I believe my child has the necessary classroom supplies and equipment for effective learning. 4.30

Our lowest scoring items were:

Student Survey:

  1. I like going to my school each day. 3.13

  2. I think my school is clean. 3.29

  3. I feel like I belong at school. 3.32

Family Survey

  1. I receive positive phone calls, emails, or notes about my child from the school. 3.79

  2. I regularly receive feedback from school staff on how well my child is learning 3.84

  3. I believe school rules are enforced consistently at this school. 4.03

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Student Success

SCHS Celebrates Senior Commitments

Each Tuesday and Saturday, Sand Creek celebrates its seniors. Whether it's "Class of '23 Tuesday" or "Senior Saturday", seniors that have committed to a post secondary option can find a bi-weekly post of what their plans are, any scholarships to note, and where they attended Elementary and Middle School, if in the Sand Creek Zone. We invite you to follow SCHS on Facebook to stay up to date with the success of our Class of 2023!

HMS Students Play with Pikes Peak Honors Orchestra

Horizon had students that were selected to play with the Pikes Peak Honors Orchestra on January 20th for their big finale concert. Congratulations to:

  • Myla Fredericksen
  • Elice Torres-Cortes, Victoria Long
  • Abigail Summers
  • Alexander Vazquez-Estabrook
  • Mollee Chacon

HMS Students Qualify for All City Honors Band

After a rigorous audition and selection process throughout the Pikes Peak region, HMS had five students selected to participate in the All City Honor Band. These students rehearsed several evenings and performed in an absolutely phenomenal concert on February 4th. A huge congratulations to the following students:

  • Imogen Farnham
  • Karalea Evenson
  • Tyler Julsonnet
  • Kiet Phan
  • Sen Chareansukity
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SCHS Students Qualify for All State and Honors Music

  • Kayden Kelsey (first wind player in SCHS history to make it) and Caleb Seifert made it into the All State Orchestra!
  • The following students were accepted for the Festival of Winds Honor Band at CSU-Pueblo: Kaylee McNail, Ciana Cowan, Emily Rush, Isabella Moore, Chantae Sowell, Anthony Santagate, Percy Walewski, Danny Blevins, Martin Depner, Marz Garcia, Stephen Hixenbaugh and Katrine Taylor.
  • Kristen Chase, Kayden Kelsey and Stephen Hixenbaugh made it in the Colorado Springs All City Honor Band.
  • Christina Jackson, Kristen Chase, Kayden Kelsey and Stephen Hixenbaugh made it into the Pike's Peak Honor Orchestra!

This is the biggest group from Sand Creek to have made it into this many honor groups and they worked hard to earn these positions by auditioning and being recommended to be a part of these prestigious groups!

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Pillar Awards Last Semester

Each semester, Sand Creek Zone leaders recommend staff members for the Zone Pillar Award. This award is for those who embody our pillars: Student Success, People, Service, and Innovation and Growth. Along with the presentation of the certificate, staff members can enjoy a free Dinner for 2 from Texas Roadhouse. Last semester, we were able to recognize the following staff for going above and beyond:

  • HMS David Jung, Kevin Gould, Monica Glickman, Toni Lunden, and Tessa Calvert for stepping up to support 8th grade math students in taking an overage for the Spring 2023 semester
  • EES Lauren Cowan and Jenn Braitman for their work around growth data and for their endless support for those in the classroom
  • SES Nicole Baxin-Galetta for her dedication to bringing the community together and for her time and hard work on the Fall Festival
  • SRES Catherine Briggs Hale for being a catalyst in getting things accomplished and for all of her work with students and staff
  • SES Patsy Dowell for supporting staff with student behaviors and for being instrumental in planning school wide events

We have more awards coming this semester so stay tuned for our end of the year newsletter for more recognition!

Denver Broncos Name Swaim MVT

The Denver Broncos launched Touchdowns for Teachers, a program that recognizes local MVTs (Most Valuable Teachers) for outstanding service to their schools and communities. Ten honorees were selected last semester by a panel of community members, the Denver Broncos and Delta Dental of Colorado.

Honorees were chosen by the amount of involvement in the school and/or community (ex: volunteering, coaching, after school programs, etc.), the degree of positive impact on the school and/or community, a demonstration of strong commitment to education in the school and/or community or someone that has made extraordinary efforts to educate, inspire and encourage their students

Congratulations to SCHS' Special Education teacher Erin Swaim for earning one of the 10 MVT awards!

For more info, check out:

Fantastic 49 Honorees

Congratulations to the following SCZ staff who were honored at Fantastic 49, a district recognition held prior to Board of Education Meetings:

Nikkole Weir - cheer coach at SCHS credited with a successful cheer season and high academic success among students on the team

Anita Adams and Sadie Russell - family engagement liaisons at EES and RES that go beyond the job descriptions to serve families and meet them where they are

Paula Fox - registrar at SCHS that took the time to train VRHS' new registrar while also maintaining a high standard of work at SCHS

Allyson Love - SCHS Yoga teacher that brought her teaching to a transfer level by having students host a Yoga Glow to demonstrate their mastery of Yoga content

For more on the January 12th meeting, use this link.

Kristen Billingsley and Brett Coddington - teachers at SRES and RES for their enthusiastic support of the IGNITE Grant and STEAM classes

Read the full story on the November 10th meeting here


SRES Teachers Display Mission DNA Practices

Abbey Calderini, Melinda Burnside, Lani Bryan, Christi Geertsema and Catherine Briggs-Hale put their practice on display for zone, district and national education leaders this past month. These teachers put themselves in a learning pit so that they could grow as teachers and coaches. Julie Dixon is a nationally known and recognized author, teacher, and consultant who came to visit to observe practices from the Mission DNA math professional development and grant. Melinda, Abbey, Christi and Lani all taught a lesson while Julie as well as several coaches and admin watching and at times interjecting coaching feedback/direction. This process was intense and put their teaching practice on public display. "They did a great job modeling what we want from our kids" said Principal Jim Kyner "to put themselves out there and take risks". Thank you for being vulnerable, growing in your field, and for doing what's best for SRES students!

SCZ Community Resource Center

The Sand Creek Zone has been working to open a Community Resource Center, located at Horizon Middle, to serve our families and community with food and clothing. Partnered with Care & Share, the CRC will be able to provide Mobile Market type produce while also having eggs, dairy, frozen meat and non-perishable food items to anyone in need on a bi-weekly basis.

With the loss of the Mobile Market at HMS, we hope to open by the end of February in order to serve our families. If you are interested in volunteering with set up, open pantry times or re-organization, be on the look out for an email over the next few weeks for a sign up link! We appreciate all of the clothing donations from last spring break and are grateful for our partnership with Care and Share to bring more robust food options to the Sand Creek Zone Community.

We do have an Amazon wish list below for anyone who would like to help stock non-perishable food items for our grand opening and for toiletries and other non-food items. Thank you for your patience and support on this project!

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Innovation & Growth

STEMtoSpace Program Inspires RES Students

Peterson Space Force officer Captain Tony "Stark" Fernandes visited Remington Elementary School on December 8th, engaging students in information about the Space Force and encouraging studies in the STEM curriculum, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Captain Fernandes also answered student questions, and presented each grade level with a Space Force military coin to honor the students' hard work and dedication in the classroom.

"Space Force’s 'STEMtoSpace' outreach campaign started as a small team project in honor of the Service’s first birthday Dec. 20, 2020, designed to link Space Force volunteers with local-area students to talk about the importance of STEM education. The initiative quickly expanded reaching more than 17,000 students across all 50 states in the campaign’s first year." (

HMS Students Learn about Future Careers

Choice and Success Coach, Amanda Eckleberg, in conjunction with HMS staff have organized career presentations for students throughout the school year. Some presenters included representatives from Colorado Springs Utilities, who talked about Energy and Environment, El Paso County Dept of Transportation, who discussed career options within the transportation industry (truck driving, welding, heavy equipment operator etc), and the El Paso County Sheriffs Office, who gave ideas for different education paths that would benefits students prior to a career in law enforcement. A big thank you to Amanda for coordinating these opportunities for our students!

The Mighty Mustang Minute

You can find staff members Brett Coddington and Row Padilla each morning on the Might Mustang Minute, a production of daily announcements at Remington Elementary. The announcements have transformed from teacher led to student enhanced and have become a highlight to many students' days. They give the lunch menu, birthdays for the day, and there are appearances by the new Mustang mascot. Each episode also includes a Kid Correspondence student reporter too. The sign off for the daily news is the school chant, "Remington Mustangs...First in Pride!"

When asked what they liked most about the Might Mustang Minute, a 1st grade student replied "they tell the BEST jokes!"

Check out an episode below from January 12th!

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Language Immersion For Stetson Elementary

When Stetson Elementary opens its doors for the 2023-24 school year, morning greetings in the building will sound a little different.

¡Bienvenidos estudiantes! ¿Cómo están ustedes hoy?

The first of its kind in District 49, Stetson Elementary is launching a new language immersion program—Operation World Language (OWL), bringing extensive Spanish instruction to classrooms. Language immersion programs promote biliteracy, academic achievement in two languages and sociocultural understanding. Students maintain their first language, while adding a second to their skillset.

For more information, check out the full story here.

Falcon Education Foundation Awards D49 Staff With Classroom Grants

The Falcon Education Foundation mini grant program provides D49 staff funding for unique and innovative learning opportunities outside of the district budget. Funds are raised through community efforts, including the annual awards and fundraising event, which typically takes place each April. The FEF is comprised of volunteers dedicated to the mission of District 49 and are highly invested in the success of its students and staff.

SCZ staff were awarded close to $10,000 for their classroom projects that impact staff, students and the community. Use this link to check out the full list of winners and their projects.

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Wildcat Way News

Jess Vignery, teacher at Evans, thought broadcasting would be a fun way for kids to get into the broadcasting realm. On Thursday mornings, you can expect to see 5th grade leadership students on YouTube hosting their weekly newscast, Wildcat Way News. Younger students look forward to being in 5th grade so they can be a part of the fun, and look up to the 5th graders as being famous and even asking for autographs. "The staff have all been very positive about it" said Vignery, "and they love the sense of culture and the way we bring the news to the entire school".

The students brainstormed and decided it would be good to feature the weather, lunch menu, and today on this day in every episode. The club is student-led with kids coming up with the script, editing episodes and eventually running the entire club.

For this particular episode below, the students wanted kids to be able to make a snowman using glitter, glue, and any other fun art pieces they had laying around the house. In past news broadcasts they've also had science experiments where the kids teach the other kids about science.

WildcatwaynewsJanuary12 20 SD 480p