There are many exciting things happening at schools in the Roaring Fork School District. Here are some things that illustrate a culture of academic excellence in our district.

Basalt Middle School Teacher Mary Bright Honored by Jared Polis Foundation

marybrightBasalt Middle School teacher Mary Bright recently received the Jared Polis Foundation's 2015 Teacher Recognition Award. Bright, who is a seventh grade science and literacy teacher, was one of only 10 teachers in the state of Colorado to receive this award. The award honors a teacher's dedication, hard work, and passion for the profession, and a teacher must be nominated in order to be eligible.

"Mary stays on the cutting edge of educational reform," said Principal Voss. "She implements new ideas, and she does it right. Her classroom is a highly reflective space where kids learn to be students. While she has awesome growth scores, students get so much more out of her class, and she does an excellent job of walking the line between character and academic learning. She's an amazing teacher."

Principal Voss nominated Bright for a variety of reasons, including her commitment to all types of learners, her effective teaching methods, her work to improve the school community, and her leadership and professional expertise among peers.

Every year since 2002, the Jared Polis Foundation has honored 10 Colorado public school teachers during May's National Teacher Appreciation Month. The mission of the foundation is to help support educators, increase access to technology, and strengthen communities. This year the foundation received nearly 60 nominations from across the state. In addition to state-wide recognition, a winning teacher receives a $1,000 discretionary prize, a $1,000 grant to improve a teacher's classroom and/or school, and a tablet of the teacher's choice.


 Basalt Middle School Honored at Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch

BMStrainblazerBMS was recently chosen as a Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch for the second consecutive time. Recognized for creating an extraordinary learning environment, BMS is once again part of an elite national network of high-performing middle schools. Only 16 out of 505 middle schools in Colorado have received this designation, while nationwide approximately 350 out of more than 13,000 middle schools in 19 participating states - or about two percent - have been honored.

"Our staff and students work incredibly hard to build a strong learning culture at Basalt Middle School," said Principal Jeremy Voss. "This designation is a wonderful recognition of those efforts. I'm very proud of our community."

BMS first applied for and received this three-year distinction in 2012. In order to initially qualify, a school must submit an extensive application and undergo a rigorous peer-review process that includes a site visit by other member schools. According to Diane Lauer, Colorado Schools To Watch state coordinator, a second designation is more difficult to achieve because a school must demonstrate a continued trajectory of success.

After a team site visit in early February that involved observations in every classroom and panel discussions with teachers, students, and parents, BMS was able to demonstrate that it exemplifies a long-term commitment to building a positive, engaging, and academically rich environment for students and families.

"The evaluation team was especially impressed with the instructional practices they saw in our classrooms and how our growth mindset school culture was reflected in every part of our school," said Principal Voss. "They also singled out our student work ethic and the compassion students demonstrate to each other and their community."

The Colorado Trailblazer program is run by the Colorado Association of Middle Level Education (, which in turn partners with the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform ( Together, these organizations annually search for middle schools across the nation that demonstrate strong characteristics in the areas of academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity and strong organizational structures.

Dr. Diana Sirko, Superintendent of Schools for the Roaring Fork School District, said, "Basalt Middle School is truly a model of the key components of excellence that must be present in any school. This recognition is a wonderful reflection of the hard work, persistence and commitment of BMS students, staff, the leadership team, and the community. Vince Lombardi once stated, 'There are no shortcuts to excellence.' This wisdom is modeled by BMS each day. We are extremely proud of all that they continue to accomplish as a school."

Designation as a Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch comes with the opportunity to present on best practices at a national conference in Washington, D.C. in June. BMS will be sending several staff members to D.C. to accept this award, and BMS will be officially presented with its School to Watch banner in April as part of its quarterly honor roll assembly.


BHS Teacher Wins English Language Learner Teacher of the Year Award

TishIngram590Leticia Ingram, English Language Development teacher and coordinator of Basalt High School’s ELD program, has been recognized by Colorado Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages with the Virginia French Allen Award for Excellence in Teaching. She will receive the award at CoTESOL’s annual fall convention, Nov. 14 in Denver.

Ingram works to ensure that BHS’s English Language Learners are all achieving success in mainstream classes. In addition to her classroom accomplishments,Ingram created the English Language Academy for further language development and the Cultural Literacy Class to facilitate community integration. She even organized a Thanksgiving dinner for almost 200 students and family members.

As Basalt High School Principal David Schmid wrote in his nomination letter, “Leticia is an outstanding teacher with a strong belief that all students can learn at high levels, and she has very high expectations for herself and her students.”

CoTESOL awards the Virginia French Allen Award for Excellence in Teaching at its annual fall convention to honor a teacher of English to speakers of other languages who has excelled in classroom instruction and/or has demonstrated creativity in developing materials or a program of instruction.

CoTESOL is the Colorado affiliate of TESOL International Association, the largest worldwide organization of second/foreign language English teachers. CoTESOL was formed more than 38 years ago to encourage professional discussion; support collaboration, networking, leadership and research; provide professional development; and share information related to English language teaching. Today CoTESOL’s volunteer board of 24 individuals represents over 800 members from all areas of education including, K-12, adult education, intensive English, and higher education.


Three Roaring Fork School District students selected for Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship

Roaring Fork High School’s Kyle Bruna, Alexandra Revilla Serrano and Timothy Johnson from Basalt High School were selected for the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship, a full four-year housing and tuition scholarship awarded to golf caddies.

Evans Scholars are chosen based on demonstrating a strong caddie record, excellent academics, demonstrated financial need and outstanding character. The four-year scholarship is valued at more than $80,000. Selected students will attend a university where the Foundation owns and operates an Evans Scholarship House, including the University of Colorado.

The Western Golf Association has administered the Chick Evans Scholarship Program through the Evans Scholars Foundation since 1930.

Bob Webster, the lead WGA director in Colorado and a Colorado Evans alumnus, said on the WGA website that the scholarships went to the right group of students.

“These young men and women are the embodiment of dedication, sacrifice and perseverance,” Webster said. “They have all worked tremendously hard to put themselves in this position, and are more than deserving of this life-changing gift. We congratulate them and look forward to watching them grow over the next four years.”

Scholarship funds come mostly from contributions by 26,000 golfers who are members of the WGA Evans Scholars Par Club. Evans Scholars alumni donate more than $6 million annually. Proceeds from the BMW Championship, the third of four PGA Tour playoff events in the FedEx Cup competition, are donated to the Evans Scholars Foundation.


 GSHS One of 11 Colorado High Schools Selected to Benefit from Advanced Placement Program

Glenwood Springs High School is one of 11 schools statewide named by The Colorado Legacy Foundation (CLF) to participate in the Colorado Legacy Schools initiative with funding from the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). Colorado Legacy Schools is a local replication of NMSI’s proven College Readiness Program, which has an unparalleled record of closing achievement gaps and increasing college readiness in program schools.

For Glenwood Springs High School, this means they are more than tripling the amount of students they help become college-ready. The school’s mission is to get all students college-ready regardless of the grant or the AP program. The program will allow GSHS to triple the number of students who can take college-level courses, or courses for college credit, in high school.

“We will not only be able to serve up to 285 students – up from 84 – we will also for the first time, be able to offer computer science and all categories of science and math classes at the AP level,” said Principal Paul Freeman. “We are absolutely thrilled to be chosen for this grant. Passing AP examinations with a score of three or higher is recognized as equivalent to a college-level class and is accepted as such by many colleges. AP classes thoroughly prepare students for college-level work.”


 GSHS Mock Trial Team Brings Home State Championship

Glenwood Springs Mock Trial team traveled to Golden, Colorado this weekend to compete in the Colorado Bar Association’s State Mock Trial Tournament. They returned victorious, winning the State Championship over Colorado Academy – a private high school located in Denver. The eight-member team earned the opportunity to compete in the state championship after winning the Western Slope Regional tournament last month in Glenwood Springs. GSHS now holds the distinction of winning the state championships six times – no other high school in the state has won the tournament as many times.

Mock Trial competition is a presentation of a real trial based on six witness affidavits. Students must use those affidavits to provide testimony to prove their side of the case and to confront the other side. This year’s problem revolved around the growing problem of texting and using cell phones while driving on the road. The GSHS team competed on Friday and Saturday against teams from Monarch High School, St. Mary’s Academy and Kent Denver School. GSHS and Colorado Academy also competed against each other in an earlier round. Students now have their sights set on winning the National Championship.


 Basalt Middle School Receives the Colorado Governor's Distinguished Improvement Award for the 4th Year in a Row

On Dec. 3, Basalt Middle School received the Colorado Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for the 4th year in a row, putting the school in rarefied company statewide with only four other middle schools making the cut for four years in a row. The Colorado Governor's Distinguished Improvement Awards go to schools that demonstrate excellent academic student growth. In 2013, 130 schools statewide earned this award.

Principal Jeremy Voss attributes the school's four-year streak to the collective effort of teachers, students and parents and the development of school-wide strategies including after-school homework help and incorporating Carol Dweck's Growth Mindset. According to Dweck, in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point.

“It is a common occurrence to have 75 to 100 students and staff extending the school day an hour to ensure that students learn key concepts," said Voss. "This requires parental support as well as extra effort by teachers and students. That makes a big difference in what we're able to achieve. We also put a lot of emphasis into developing a strong school culture that lives by our core values. This statewide recognition provides affirmation that we are making progress toward achieving our goals for student learning."

In addition to the Colorado Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Awards, BMS has been recognized as a 2012 Colorado Trailblazer School to Watch and a National Schools to Watch. Principal Voss has no intention of resting on these laurels. His goals for the school continue to include ensuring students are engaged in challenging and meaningful work and closing the achievement gap.

For more information, visit

 BMS Students Play to Aspen Ideas Festival Crowd

This past June, during the Aspen Institute's Ideas Fest, four Basalt Middle School 8th graders, Kaylin Williams, Stephanie Nevarez, Elijah Pettit and Oswaldo Morales, were invited to perform on stage during a Citizen Artists plenary session with Yo-Yo Ma, the world's most famous cellist and co-founder of Arts Strike; Cristina Pato, pianist and bagpiper from Spain; Damian Woetzel, former principal dancer for the New York City Ballet and co-founder of Arts Strike; and Anna Deavere Smith, a renowned actress of stage, film and television. The students composed a poem, “We are Unique,” as a part of the Arts Strike program and were thrilled and honored to perform that poem on stage with Yo-Yo Ma and Cristina Pato accompanying, while Damian Woetzel and Anna Deavere Smith coached. The BMS students played to a great crowd in the Aspen Music Festival and School's Benedict Music Tent. The Basalt faculty coordinator was Katie Hone Wiltgen.


 2013 Boettcher Scholar Pablo Gorra Honors His Math Teacher

Each year at the Boettcher Scholars Award Evening in Denver, students recognize a teacher who has made a profound impact on their education. During this year’s event, Glenwood High School graduate and Boettcher Scholar recipient Pablo Gorra honored his math teacher, Anne Swanson. For three consecutive years, Boettcher Foundation Scholarships were awarded to students at Glenwood Springs High School, Pablo Gorra 2013, Kevin Hartmann 2012, and Anna Gauldin and Walter Gorra 2011. Since 1952, the Boettcher Foundation has awarded nearly $60 million in undergraduate scholarships to students in Colorado

For more information regarding the Boettcher Foundation visit


 Three Roaring Fork Schools Honored with 2012 Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award

Congratulations to the students, teachers and staff of Glenwood Springs High School, Basalt Middle School and Basalt Elementary School for receiving the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award. The Governor’s Distinguished Improvement awards are given to schools that demonstrate exceptional student growth. These schools “exceed” expectations for academic growth and “meet or exceed” expectations on academic growth gaps. It is the second straight time BES and GSHS have received the distinction the third straight time for BMS. For more information about student growth and achievement visit


Basalt Middle School Teacher Receives Jared Polis Foundation’s Teacher Recognition Award

Craig Macek was honored during the 2012-2013 school year with The Jared Polis Foundation Teacher Recognition Award, a distinction given to only 10 teachers out of nearly 50,000 in Colorado. “Craig’s commitment to his students is exemplary,” said said Jeremy Voss principal of BMS. “He not only teaches his students math, he inspires them to improve their character, live healthier lifestyles, and discover new experiences.” For more information on the Jared Polis Foundation Award visit


Glenwood Springs High School Senior Pablo Gorra Wins Competitive 2013 Boettcher Scholarship

Pablo Gorra has been awarded the prestigious Boettcher Scholarship. The competition for this four-year award is intense. Prospective scholars go through a rigorous application and interview process. Annually more than 1,300 students apply for the 40 available scholarships. For more information on Boettcher Scholarships visit


Basalt High junior Jamie Briscoe Selected for Prestigious Leadership Council

Jamie Briscoe of Basalt High School is one of 20 female high school juniors selected to participate in The Women’s Foundation of Colorado Girls’ Leadership Council. The Women’s Foundation of Colorado — a Denver-based nonprofit committed to building resources and leading change so that every woman and girl in Colorado achieves her full potential — reports that Briscoe was chosen from more than 100 girls who applied in March for the program. She was among 35 finalists interviewed in May. For more information on The Women’s Foundation of Colorado visit


BMS Lego Robotics Team Wins Innovation Award

The Longhornbots, Vaughn Janckila, Adele Craft, Miles Craft, Ben Williams, Cole Williams, Albert Marquez, Drew Olsen, and Justin Hubbell (Daniel Barnes was also a member of the team but did not attend the competition), went to the state championship FLL Robotics competition on January 19 at the School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. There were 60 teams competing at this all-day event. The Longhornbots brought back a very cool looking LEGO trophy for second place in the Innovative Solutions Award category. Their many hours of practice and attention to detail paid off when they presented their E.A.R. (Efficient Auditory Retriever) research project to the judges. The E.A.R. is their innovative solution to a problem senior citizens face while trying to maintain an active lifestyle. The team was comprised of 5th -8th graders and started practices in September.


 BHS Senior Accepted to Combined Degree Program / Seat Reserved at CU Denver School of Medicine

Basalt senior Dylan Rakowski has been accepted into the highly selective University of Colorado Denver BA/BS-MD combined degree program, one of just 10 students chosen statewide. Students study undergrad at CU Denver and if they meet the standards they have a guaranteed seat in the CU School of Medicine reserved for them. This year there were 102 applicants. Forty-five of those applicants made it as far as the interview stage. Being accepted enables the students to earn a reserved seat in the CU School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus provided she/he meets a specific set of required standards. Students spend the first four years of the eight-year program earning their bachelor’s degree at CU Denver.  


Vision and Strategic Plan

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