PSD students recently celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday with wacky hats, creative costumes and, most importantly - books!

Schools across the district held events in honor of Read Across America Day, which falls on Dr. Seuss's birthday. Students dress as their favorite characters from Dr. Seuss books, share books with friends and read on their own.

Cinderella Project helps students find affordable prom dresses

Erica Cordova was at the register, seconds away from purchasing an elegant, seafoam-green dress when her mom calls to her from across the bridal boutique that was temporarily teeming with colorful prom dresses.

“Erica, how about this one?” she asks, holding up a floor-length blush gown with a flowing organza skirt.

The Rocky Mountain High School senior pauses, darts over to her mother and studies the dress. She smiles and gets in line for the fitting room, ready to try on one more option. She and the dozens of other high school students packed inside Dora Grace’s Bridal are shopping for discounted prom dresses at the Cinderella Project, an annual PSD event that sells donated dresses for as little as $5.

“I want something that fits my budget,” Erica says. “Usually those dream dresses are totally expensive.”

Prom dresses can cost hundreds of dollars, but those purchased at the Cinderella Project all cost between $5 and $20. Students can also have their dresses altered for free. There are no income requirements for students to purchase dresses from the Cinderella Project.

Volunteer Tracy Spillman looks on from the register as students from PSD schools and schools in Loveland and Greeley browse the racks stuffed full of more than 800 dresses. Girls pull dresses off the rack and ask for their friends’ opinions. A line for the fitting room stretched across the boutique.

Volunteers start asking the community for donations months before the event and then carefully sort them and get ready for the big day, when students come in and select their perfect outfit the week before Spring Break.

It can be a daunting task, but it’s worth it to help students get a chance at their perfect prom.

“Dresses are just so expensive,” Spillman says. “We want all the girls to be able to go to prom.”

FCHS History Bowl team places first in Colorado

History has always been Luka Robenalt’s favorite subject.

The Fort Collins High School junior loves to see how the events of the past shape the world today, and he has even explored his own family’s connection to events like the Civil War. This passion for the past has made the long hours he has spent studying for the History Bee and Bowl more fun than chore for Luka and the other team members who share his enthusiasm.

The team’s hard work recently paid off when they won first place at Colorado’s qualifying competition for the National History Bee and Bowl. This is the third consecutive year Fort Collins High School students have qualified for the national completion in Washington, D.C.

To get ready for the competition, team members have sacrificed their Wednesday afternoons, spending hours going over detailed questions covering U.S. history. Luka also makes sure he spends a lot of his free time reading historical fiction and historical nonfiction.

For students on the team, learning about history is more than memorizing names and dates. It’s about understanding the events of the past, and the people who were involved in them. Senior History Bowl team member Brooklyn Kron says she likes to learn about the complicated dilemmas people in the past faced and how they handled them – even if it wasn’t perfect.

“We spend time reading about the mistakes people made,” she says.

Preston, FCHS Science Bowl winners prepare for national competition

It’s 4 on a Tuesday, and the halls of Preston Middle School have emptied out. But inside the quiet school, science teacher Logan Burke’s classroom is whirring with excited energy.

Students slam their hands down on the buzzers sitting on their desks and call out answers to complex science questions. They rattle off equations, list biological terms and name obscure minerals and rocks.

This is a Science Bowl practice session, and these kids mean business.

Teams from both Preston and Fort Collins High School recently won their regional competitions and are gearing up to travel to Washington, D.C. to face off against teams from around the country.

“My team is amazing,” coach Angela Morris says. “They study hard, practice for hours each week and have fun together.  I am very proud of them and they are going to represent Colorado and PSD well.”

Students on the Preston team still remember the excitement they felt when they clinched their spot at Nationals.

“We were like, screaming up and down (when we won),” Preston seventh-grader Sophie Wang says.

The regional middle school competition in February came down to the last question of the final round, and Sophie came up with the winning answer. She doesn’t remember exactly what the question was, but she knows it had something to do with electron shells.

To get ready for their big competition this spring, the Preston Science Bowl team meets after school every week, drilling each other with practice questions. When asked what they needed to brush up on before their trip to the national competition, the students groaned and almost in unison said “geology.”

Even when the questions are difficult, and the practices go long, it’s hard to miss the glee in the room, as these gear up for their next competition.

“Working to go to Nationals is fun,” eighth grader Lucas Mellinger says.

Teacher and mom create ‘iPad School’ 

School has looked a little different for Elke Kliewer lately, but that hasn’t dampened her passion for the classroom. 

“She gets really excited about it in the morning,” her mom, Stephanie Kliewer says. “She’ll wake up and say ‘iPad school, iPad school!’”

For the past several months, Elke has been joining her preschool classmates at Lopez Elementary School on an iPad screen instead of in person. That’s because the 3-year-old has a rare medical condition that makes respiratory infections especially dangerous for her. So, this winter, after a stay in the hospital, her mom and doctors decided it would be best for Elke to stay at home for the rest of the cold and flu season. 

But Kliewer and Elke’s teacher, Tracy Kelley, worried about her missing the classroom experience. They wanted to make sure she could participate in class activities and see her friends every day, and that she could jump right back in when she returns to the classroom this spring.

So, they devised a creative solution: “iPad school.”

Every week, Kelley carefully plans out what objects and worksheets she’ll be using in class and loads up her car up with duplicates for Elke. This means, Elke can do the exact same activities as her classmates, even though she’s at home.

It took students in Elke’s classroom a few days to adjust to seeing their friend on a small screen, but Kelley says they caught on quickly. They even want to bring Elke out for recess, she says, and they like to take Elke’s iPad around the classroom to make sure she doesn’t miss anything.

Keeping Elke in school – in her own classroom, even when she can’t physically be there, means that when she returns in the spring, it will be easier for her to pick up where she left off.

“It’s been a life saver for us,” Kliewer says. “It’s kept her in the loop and socially engaged … She feels that sense of belonging.”

New principals selected for Eyestone and Rice elementary schools

PSD is excited to announce that it has selected new principals for two of its elementary schools, pending approval from the Board of Education.

Kristin Broadbelt was selected as the new principal for Eyestone Elementary School, and Melissa Duve has been selected as the new principal of Rice Elementary School.

Broadbelt has worked for the past four years as a principal at Scotland County Schools in North Carolina. She has diligently focused on increasing the rigor of education in Scotland County through her curriculum development. She is passionate about raising student achievement by incorporating technology into the classroom, collaborating with others and keeping students engaged in their school community.

Duve is currently in her third year as the assistant principal at Rice Elementary. Her work at Rice has focused on strengthening student and staff learning experiences, coaching and collaborating with teachers and increasing student achievement.

Broadbelt will begin in the position when current Eyestone principal, David Sobson, retires at the end of the school year. Duve will begin in the position at the end of the school year when current Rice principal, Dr. Karen Koehn, retires.