Sixth-grader Madelynn Wiggins didn’t hesitate when asked if she’d thought much about her future.

“I’m going to college,” she says confidently. “I think I’m going to go to Colorado State University or to Notre Dame.”

Madelynn was on a field trip to CSU, along with more than 200 other sixth graders from Lincoln Middle School. This is the second year the school has taken students on this trip, which aims to give the students a taste of college life and inspire them to follow their dreams after they finish high school in just a few short years.

“I know it seems like a lifetime to them,” says Charlene Peterson, the Lincoln media specialist who accompanied the students. “But it’s to motivate and inspire. … It seems like it lit a lot of fires.”

During the visit, students met CSU student athletes and heard from first-generation college students. For Madelynn, who will be the first in her family to attend college, this was particularly meaningful. She listened intently as the students talked about their college experience and doled out advice on how she, too, could get to a university.

“They said pick good friends, friends who will help and who will encourage you,” she says.

Aidan Scully says his favorite part of the trip was seeing a real-life college dorm room – it was nicer than he expected – though he is not quite sure how he feels about having a roommate. He says he hasn’t spent too much time thinking about college, but says he’d like to end up at a place like CSU.

“It’s a lot bigger (than I expected), he says. “It’s just really cool.”

Dunn students welcome 32 new U.S. citizens from 20 countries

Fifth-grade student Harper Skejerseth spoke softly to the crowd in her school’s gymnasium, but her message was loud and clear: Welcome.

Harper’s speech was part of a momentous occasion at Dunn World School. She and the rest of the fifth-grade class recently hosted a naturalization ceremony for 32 new U.S. citizens from 20 countries.

For the students, the ceremony marked the end a unit of inquiry on how migration changes people and places. For the 32 new citizens, it marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter.

“I welcome you as neighbors, friends and family,” Harper says, reading from a winning essay she wrote, selected by school officials to be read at the ceremony. “I welcome you as new citizens of this country, and I welcome your children and their children.”

Andy Lambrecht, Denver field officer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, acknowledges the hard work and sacrifices the new citizens have made in the years leading up to that day. He also honored each individual country of origin represented at the ceremony before he administered the Oath of Allegiance, which cemented the 32 candidates’ status as new U.S. citizens.

Principal Deborah Ellis also spoke to the crowd and welcomed the new citizens, saying the experience was also meaningful for students.

“As an international baccalaureate school, we are committed to creating a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect,” she says.

This was the 15th year Dunn has hosted the ceremony.

Students presented each new citizen with a miniature American flag after they took the Oath before serenading them with an enthusiastic rendition of “This Land is Your Land.”

Black History Month

Fort Collins High School history wiz Alicia Jones sees the past as more than the actions of nameless, faceless people.

She likes to delve deeper, and she thinks history classes should, too.

“U.S. history is always promoting the idea of celebrating diversity in history and celebrating the different types of people we learn about,” she says. “With African Americans, (it’s important to) treat them so kids learn about them as humans first, rather than just slaves.”

In her own studies of U.S. history, Alicia says she was she was inspired when reading the works of Martin Luther King Jr. and activist, historian and sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois.

“It showed me certain things you can do as a person of color and not be held back,” she says.

Understanding the stories that make U.S. history and how the events of the past can affect the present is key for students, history teacher Christine Matthie says. Some students at Collins have taken this a step further, and have spent lunch breaks during February, Black History Month, asking their peers to sign a banner and pledge not to use hate speech.

Kinard's Rahul Ghosh spells "nachtmusik" to win District Bee

Rahul Ghosh almost sounded like a famous actor accepting an Oscar when he celebrated his win at Poudre School District’s recent Spelling Bee.

“I’d like to thank my mom,” he says in the PSD Board Room, moments after clinching the title as District Champion with the correct spelling of nachtmusik. “She helped me study the words.”

Nachtmusik, in case you were wondering, is German in origin and means “serenade.” Not that Rahul, a seventh-grader at Kinard Middle School, needed any of that information to get it right.

Twenty elementary and middle school students from across the district recently competed at the District’s Spelling Bee, to earn a spot to compete at the State Spelling Bee in the spring.

Rahul says that leading up to the Bee, his mom ran drills with him, quizzing him on a list of words she pulled up on her computer screen.

“That is correct, congratulations,” Spelling Bee Judge and PSD Contest Coordinator Connie Kibbe says into the microphone. “Holy cow; well done boys. That was amazing.”

The final two contestants, Rahul and Lesher sixth grader Joseph Leisz, had duked it out round after round, spelling increasingly difficult words. When it was over, Joseph offered Rahul a high-five after a hard-fought competition.

The top ten spellers in the District are eligible to attend the State Spelling Bee on March 10 at Sturm Hall at the University of Denver. Those students are:

  • Josephine Armstrong, Blevins eighth grader
  • Austin Evans, Bauder fifth grader
  • Rahul Ghosh, Kinard seventh grader
  • Ethan Klabunde, Bethke fifth grader
  • Amber Kranz, Liberty Commons eighth grader
  • Joseph Leisz, Lesher sixth grader
  • Ananya Mahapatra, Webber seventh grader
  • James Messick, PGA eighth grader
  • Duncan O’Kelly, Johnson fifth grader
  • Allison Wuu, Traut fifth grader

 Calendar of Events

March 2: Elementary schools not in session (teacher work day)

March 12-16: Spring break

March 20: Board of Education meeting