SCZ Fall Newsletter

September 2021

From the Desk of Sean Dorsey

Parents, Families, and Community Members,

It is hard to believe we have started our sixth week of the 2021-2022 school year. I am a bit biased, but I believe our Sand Creek Zone schools are off to a fantastic start.

Yes, challenging times continue. However, there is a lot to celebrate in the Sand Creek Zone. Horizon Middle School was recently named one of eight schools in the nation, as the recipient of Jostens' Platinum Award. Horizon Middle School earned the distinction via an exemplary implementation of the Renaissance Program. The Renaissance Program recognizes students for academic and behavioral excellence. Frankly, it continues to be a game-changer in creating a high-performing student culture at Horizon Middle School. In addition, the Sand Creek High School Marching Band placed 1st among all bands at the Colorado State Fair! Remington Elementary School has been recognized by Chalkbeat: Colorado multiple times for excellence in primary literacy instruction. I encourage you to click on the link to read their story. We are lucky to have the Remington Elementary School working on behalf of our learners. Their efforts are making a difference.

The Sand Creek Zone emphasizes purposeful community engagement. Our zone is hosting a variety of activities for folks to participate in. On September 30, 2021, we will convene our initial Sand Creek Zone Partners meeting at Sand Creek High School beginning at 5:30 pm. Sand Creek Zone Partners is an opportunity for members of our community to participate in school advisory committees, as well as provide input regarding zone operations. During our upcoming meeting, attendees will be asked to offer suggestions on how to allocate ESSER III funds. ESSER III funds are designed to increase student achievement through evidence-based practices, as well as create safe learning environments for students in light of the ongoing pandemic.

Unfortunately, the start of the year has been marked by many different respiratory illnesses present within our schools. We want to remain open for in-person learning for the entire school year. In that vein, please keep your students home if they are sick. As a father of school-aged children, I know it can be incredibly inconvenient to keep your learner home in the event they are not feeling well. However, it is imperative, with the rise in COVID rates, as well as other serious respiratory illnesses, that sick students stay home. Keeping our schools open to in-person learning depends on it.

Our schools take very seriously the achievement and welfare of your learner(s). In the event you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your school. Furthermore, you are more than welcome to contact me at Have a great day.

Sean Dorsey, Sand Creek Zone Leader


Beilharz Recognized at Fantastic 49

District 49 honored Jessica Beilharz, art teacher at Evans Elementary, during Fantastic 49 on Thursday, 9/9. Jessica crafted an engaging summer school program for young artists. She sparked creativity with 65 through engaging activities in the afternoon of the Summer Acceleration Academy.

We are honored to have Jessica in the Sand Creek Zone serving our families and ensuring student success. Congratulations Mrs. Beilharz!

Bringing Families Together With Dinner Chats

Each evening, Teri Armes, Kindergarten teacher at Springs Ranch, sends out an email to her families with what their child did in school and suggestions on phonemic practice to bring up during dinner time. This not only encourages good practice with academics but also brings family members together. Thank you for engaging our families, Mrs. Armes!

"Our target today was that we can combine syllables to make a word. I would give the students 2 syllables and they would combine them (they learned what combine means) and give me the word. I then talked to the students and told them that just as syllables are part of a word, we can combine sounds to make a word. I have listed some examples below if you want to see how your child does tonight! I'm so proud of how hard the students are working!"

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Student Success

Gutierrez Learns at High Altitudes

Neveah Gutierrez was selected this past summer for an eight week program at the prestigious Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute in Prescott, Arizona. ERAU selected Neveah through a nationwide application process, inviting her, and about 600 others from around the country to spend their summer break in school, learning how to fly. The offer alone sparked some interest for the Air Force Junior ROTC cadet.

The program prepped Neveah to pass multiple exams including the Federal Aviation Administration’s written test. By the end of a series of 12-hour days, Neveah carried home 6 hours of college credit and her private pilot’s license.

Last week, Neveah was honored at D49's Fantastic 49 where she was recognized in front of the Board of Education and other administrative personnel for this huge accomplishment. We are proud of you Neveah!

Renaissance Celebrations at Horizon

HMS has already hosted 2 Renaissance Reward celebrations this year. For their second celebration, Gold and Black Level (3.5 GPA and higher) had a snow cone party in August. The Friday before, all levels (red, black and gold, 3.0 GPA or higher) were invited to leave class early to go to lunch. "Keep working hard… more rewards are in your future" said Liz Wagers, assistant principal at Horizon.

A new layer of Renaissance was added this year in the form of a class. Whitney Apodaca, social studies teacher at HMS, now holds a student leadership class during the school day. Her kiddos visited every classroom to talk about what it means to be a Renaissance student. Check out the HMS Facebook page for videos of their speech, pictures of their Renaissance events, and like for future recognition!
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SRES Visits Families of the CLDE Program

Over the past month, Linda Hagedorn and Deanna Robison of Springs Ranch Elementary School conducted home visits with families of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE) program.

  • “My goal is to deepen the connection between CLD families and the school. It is important to build a trusting and collaborative relationship that will increase family engagement and student achievement. Families provide valuable insight regarding their culture, perspective and experience with education, and their hopes and dreams for their children. We share students’ successes from assessment data and work together to set academic, linguistic, and social goals for their children. Parents are able to receive clarity on procedures, upcoming school and district events, and district resources.” said Hagedorn.

Home visits are not limited to the beginning of the school year. Follow up visits mid-year and at the end of the year provide opportunities to review goals and celebrate successes!

  • Linda added, “We value the time families share with us. The ease of using the telephonic service of Language Link provides an interpreter and offers an opportunity to clearly communicate with families. We learn about a family’s culture in the comfort of their own home.”

Families have been very welcoming and open to home visits. Lihn Thach, mother of two SRES students stated, “I love that you do home visits!! I feel it builds trust and it is one of the reasons why I want my kids to keep going to Springs Ranch Elementary!”

Thank you to Linda and Deanna for your dedication to our SCZ families! Check out more photos here.

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Missoula Theater Returning to Remington

For the past few years, schools in the Sand Creek Zone have partnered with the Missoula Children's Theater to "foster creativity and enhance innate capabilities in individuals by providing access to community-driven performing arts experiences" (

This year, they will be heading to RES at the end of September to start auditions, practices and host a performance of The Emperor's New Clothes. Be on the look out for more information if your child is interested in participating! SRES will be hosting MCT this winter.

College Board Recognizes SCHS Scholars

The College Board National African American Recognition Program recognized students based on their remarkable academic achievements and outstanding performance on the PSAT and/or AP tests. Students selected for this prestigious honor can cite it on their college and scholarship applications. In turn, colleges use the listing of this honor as a way of identifying students from underrepresented groups—i.e., ethnic minorities and/or those who attend school in rural areas or small towns—who have excelled on their PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, or AP Exams and in their classwork.

Congratulations to Sand Creek High School scholars Kiana Daniels and Xiomara Lee on this huge accomplishment!

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Innovation & Growth

Horizon Recieves Platinum Distinction

The Jostens Renaissance School of Distinction designation was created to celebrate those schools that, in collaboration with the Renaissance community, are making a positive impact on school climate and culture through executing the Renaissance formula: RESPECT + RECOGNIZE + REWARD + REINFORCE + RELATIONSHIPS = RESULTS.

The Platinum Tier award designation was only achieved by 8 schools across North America and demonstrates the highest level of accomplishment. To reach this level, schools had to not only implement strategies in 14 separate areas, they had to describe and document these successes through a rigorous application process. Congratulations to Horizon Middle School on earning the Platinum Distinction!

Horizon Middle School is now a key contributor to the Renaissance community, showing other schools how they can have a similar impact on their culture. These efforts would be worthy of recognition in any year, but to achieve this status during a pandemic year shows true grit and commitment to student success. Read more about their goals and determination in the Josten's Renaissance Newsletter.

We will celebrate Horizon's staff on their dedication to this program and student success by providing breakfast for all on Wednesday, 9/15. We will also be hosting an award ceremony and luncheon for district leaders, local media and community members.

Closing the Gap at Remington

Remington Elementary was recognized for the second time in Chalkbeat: Colorado, a non-profit educational organization that covers the efforts of local schools to improve education for their students. This article focused on the efforts of RES' 1st grade team. Current first graders are embarking on their first "normal" year of school. Their kindergarten year was filled with a late in-person start, then online education, back to in person and it was filled with multiple quarantines, interrupting the usual educational flow. Find out more about how our first grade team is focused on not only academics but also procedures critical to student success:
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AFJROTC Remembers 9/11

On Friday, 9/10, the SCHS AFJROTC cadets held a 9/11 Commemoration. The program included:

Opening Remarks

America the Beautiful by soloist Macy Awtrey

Poem reading

Flag Retreat

TAPS by trumpet soloist Aaron Phelan

Closing Remarks

In addition, the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed as a result of the 9/11 attacks were read aloud by cadets beginning in the morning and continuing throughout the school day. The list of names inscribed on the 9/11 Memorial included all those killed in the 9/11 attacks and the six individuals killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Check out more photos from the Commemoration here.

Stats on your Mobile Market

The Mobile Market has been serving the families of the Sand Creek Zone since March 2021. We are excited to be able to continue to offer this service each month and to bring a wide variety of food to our families. In the last few weeks, we have seen eggs, milk, grapes, strawberries, cantaloupe, zucchini, peppers, avocados, salad mix, yogurt and more. If you or anyone you know is in need, please share the Mobile Market information with them! The truck can be found at Horizon Middle School on Tuesdays from 10-11am. NOTE: We are able to add one evening time this month, on 9/29 from 4:30-5:30!

Be sure to take the Family Engagement Survey in this newsletter and let us know how the Mobile Market is working for you, if you have any time/date suggestions, and if there is any other support we can offer to you.

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SRES Welcomes Families to their Campus

Springs Ranch Elementary hosted a new event this year; a twist on Back to School Night. On Friday, August 20th, SRES held a school picnic outside, on campus, that included food, fellowship and fun. The staff used this event as a way to connect with their families and welcome them back to a new school year. The event had over 600 guests in attendance!
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Students Inspire Through Lyrics

Students in Horizon's Music Appreciation class created inspirational reminders through song lyrics. Some of them included:

"Dude I'm proud of you, just keep pushing through" - Dear Evan Hansen

"Don't stop believing" - Bon Jovi

"Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to me" - Queen

"I'm still standing after all this time. Got me lookin' like a true survivor. Got me feelin' like a little kid" - Elton John

"You can do anything you set your mind to" - Eminem

Badges and Books at Evans

Deputy Robblee from the El Paso County Sheriff's Department visited Evans Elementary on Friday 9/24 for Badges and Books. This program brings uniformed Law Enforcement officers to classrooms to interact with students by reading books and answering questions.

"Reading a book is just the first step in building a strong relationship with children in our community. We support our educators and believe this program helps to build a partnership with our most important community members; our kids. Our hope is that future generations of this community will be comfortable interacting with emergency responders in every capacity" (

The deputy was able to visit 17 classrooms throughout the day. Thank you to our partners at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office for visiting our school and thank you to Lori McCoy for coordinating this for our kiddos!

Families in the Sand Creek Zone

Take the SCZ Family Engagement Survey

Let us know what resources you need, how you would like to see family engagement, and education and events you would like to see in the SCZ.

Learn about Onam, an Indian Celebration

Niveditha Rajith, a second grader at SRES, 2nd grader, celebrates Onam with her family. Rajith Ravi, Niveditha's father, explains the event and the story behind it. "Onam is the most popular festival in the state of Kerala, India. It is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state regardless of religion, caste or creed. According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.


The legend is of King Mahabali, a mythical king who ruled over Kerala. He was greatly respected in his kingdom and was considered to be wise, and extremely generous. Everybody was happy in his kingdom. There was no discrimination on the basis of caste or class. Rich and poor were treated equally. There was neither crime, nor corruption. Due to his popularity, the Gods became extremely concerned and jealous. They felt threatened and decided to end his reign. They asked Lord Vishnu to go to earth in the form of a dwarf Brahmin.Disguised as Vamana, Vishnu requested Mahabali for 3 feet of land. Kind Mahabali granted him the land, Vamana began to expand and eventually increased himself to the size of cosmic proportions. With his first step, the Brahmin boy covered the whole of earth and with the other step he covered the whole of the skies. He then asked the King where is the space for him to keep the third foot. King Mahabali with folded hands bowed before Vamana and asked him to place his last step on his head so that he could keep the promise. The brahmin placed his foot on the head of the King and trampled Mahabali to the netherworld. There, the King requested Lord Vishnu to be allowed to visit his land and people once a year, and Vishnu granted him his wish. It is the day of the visit of King Mahabali to Kerala that is celebrated as Onam every year.


Elaborate feasts known as sadhya, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games and concentric floral decorations are all part of this dynamic festival. People make all the efforts to celebrate the festival in a grand way and impress their beloved King that they are happy and to wish him well. People buy new clothes and sweets during the celebration of Onam. Popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the festival made Onam the official State Festival of Kerala in 1961."