Every month, a group of Bethke students gets together to do something nice for others.  

In the past, the "Kids Care Club" has visited nursing homes, created art for the FoCo Café, and learned about the March of Dimes. This month, they heard a special presentation from the Larimer Humane Society.  

"We usually have a guest speaker come from the organization we're learning about, then we try to create something we can give to them," first grade teacher Jenna Simpson explained.  

After learning about the importance of helping animals to stay mentally stimulated during their time at the shelter, the students got to work creating dog treats out of cardboard toilet paper rolls and cat toys out of yarn.  

"We're making toys for dogs and cats because sometimes they don't have toys and feel a little bored," student Mercedes said as she drew bright orange hearts on a cardboard roll.  

The project helps students learn about community organizations and ways they can help out locally. They develop a broader perspective about the world that later enriches classroom learning, Simpson said.  

"It's wonderful that kids can start acting upon their compassion for animals at a young age," Lauren Parsons, volunteer Humane Education Coordinator said. "If we teach kids now that animals should be protected, not abused or neglected, they can share that information with their friends and later on in life be the ones to provide that care."  

At end of the hour, the students had created enough toys and treats to cover an entire desk.  

"We're going to make sure the dogs are happy and have fun and get a treat," student Katie said with a smile.

Lincoln Middle School seventh graders preview college life with CSU visit

Seventh-grade students from Lincoln Middle School visited Colorado State University as part of a new program designed to get them thinking about attending college early.   

"The kids are learning about the community outside of Lincoln and learning to look forward to academic life after middle and high school," explained Charlene Peterson, Principal Intern at Lincoln, who helped to coordinate the pilot program. "They're getting a taste of the culture of college life."  

The pre-teens listened to a panel of first-generation CSU students, toured campus, ate in the dining hall, peeked into a dorm, and hung out with student athletes at the indoor practice field.  

"I've never seen such a big place," Priest Muniz, a seventh grader said in awe as he walked around the sprawling athletic facility. With dreams of playing football after high school, throwing the ball around with CSU football players was a highlight of the day for him.  

"This is teaching me a lot," he said. "I want to be the first kid in my family to actually graduate. I learned today that you have to work your hardest to get here — you have to train not just your mind, but your body too."  

All of the Lincoln students walked away with a better understanding of what it takes to attend college, especially after having the chance to ask their questions to the first-generation student panel.  

"Do you have to have money to go to CSU?" one Lincoln student asked. The answer — explaining scholarships, grants and loans — surprised her.  

"For some students, this might be the first time they're considering that college might be possible, so they're really impacted by hearing stories from older students who have been in their place," Stacy Grant, RamTrax Visitor Services Director said. She said CSU hopes to expand the pilot program to other secondary schools in PSD, in keeping with CSU's mission to make a positive impact on the local community.  

And as students wearily climbed back on the bus—cheery but tired from a long day of activities, stuffed with waffles and Pad Thai and tacos—the impact could already be felt.  

"I realized today that whatever your boundaries are — if it's issues with money, or anything — no matter what your boundaries are, you can find a way to overcome them," seventh grader Sammi York said with a smile. 

Secondary students come together for first annual Student Wellness Summit

Dozens of middle and high school students gathered at Colorado State University for the first annual Student Wellness Summit this spring. 

Hosted by the PSD Wellness Department, the conference was the first of its kind in the state of Colorado. Students learned about neuroscience, toured campus, practiced a dance routine, and attended breakout sessions on global health and leadership. 

"We want students to learn how to be health and wellness advocates and leaders in their schools," Amanda Brantley, Health Education and Wellness Coordinator said.  

The conference brought together like-minded students, many of whom already serve on their school's Student Wellness Committee.  

"Most people here are really passionate about this," Fossil Ridge sophomore Karen Manley said. "It's important for us to give our input as part of the school district."  

Manley covers the mental health beat for the Fossil Ridge's school newspaper, Etched in Stone.   

"It can be hard, because I write about things that are really personal and share them with the whole school — but it's something that needs to be talked about to help defeat the stigma," she said.  

One of her favorite parts of the day was learning about ways to help other students feel more safe and stable, tips that she can then share in her newspaper column. 

"They’re educating a little population of each school on this, so kids can take the knowledge back to their home school and share it with their friends," explained Jo Dixon, Physical Education Teacher at Lesher Middle School.

The ripple effect was obvious in conversations around the room, as Fort Collins High School students brainstormed about starting a wellness club in the spring and Lesher students planned presentations to their faculty about brain breaks.  

"We're hoping kids will leave with an objective, and know that they can make a difference and their voices are heard," Brantley said. "Empowering students to take care of their health is how we move society forward."

 Calendar of Events

April 7, No school K-12

April 11, 6:30pm, Board of Education business meeting, JSSC, 2407 Laporte Ave.

April 25, 6:30pm, Board of Education business meeting, JSSC, 2407 Laporte Ave.