Colorado District Celebrates New Blended Learning Facility

Colorado District Celebrates New Blended Learning Facility

PEYTON, Colo. – A month after Falcon Virtual Academy’s new facility was unlocked for students, a ceremony recognized its relevancy in public education.

FVA staff and students gathered to celebrate with community members Oct. 12 in their new, brightly colored, tech savvy building. Falcon School District 49 is expanding its blended learning options for kindergarten-twelfth graders.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of everybody,” said Susan Patrick, president and chief executive officer of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, a nonprofit organization that facilitates collaboration, advocacy and research for online schools.

As the morning’s guest speaker, Patrick addressed more than 100 people encircled by ribbons, balloons, awards and refreshments, an event sponsored by K12 Aventa Learning. Continue reading

Colorado District Expands Online Learning Support

Colorado District Expands Online Learning Support

PEYTON, Colo. – After opening their new facility Sept. 12, Falcon Virtual Academy’s faculty immediately started using its fresh mix of modern décor and technology.

The virtual academy, authorized by Falcon School District 49 in 2010, is now leveraging instructional technologies in a renovated 21,000 square-foot facility, which triples its previous size, increases its Internet bandwidth and expands its students’ options.

Now located at 6113 Constitution Avenue in Colorado Springs, the multidistrict public school for kindergarten-twelfth grade students resembles an Internet café, where bright overhead lighting and computer workstations illuminate bistro and sofa seating areas. Continue reading

Colorado Teacher Earns State Recognition, Advances for National

Colorado Teacher Earns State Recognition, Advances for National

PEYTON, Colo. – A teacher in Falcon School District 49 recently earned recognition as an outstanding educator of mathematics in Colorado.

Melanie Dolifka, a second grade teacher at Falcon Elementary School, found out this week she is one of two mathematics finalists in Colorado for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

“This prestigious award recognizes your outstanding contributions as a teacher of mathematics in Colorado,” said Mary Pittman, Colorado Department of Education mathematics content specialist, in her letter to Dolifka. Continue reading

Colorado District Opens County’s Second School Health Center

Colorado District Opens County’s Second School Health Center

PEYTON, Colo. – Falcon School District 49 unveiled El Paso County’s second school-based health center today during an open house event.

As patrons entered Falcon Elementary School for an evening orientation, less then two weeks into the 2012-2013 school year, they received a personal invitation to tour the school’s pioneering healthcare facility with a community partner.

Peak Vista Community Health Centers of Colorado Springs earned a competitive federal grant last year to partner with three local schools, allowing it to help students get treated for acute illnesses, such as flu, and chronic conditions, including asthma, allergies and diabetes. Continue reading

Colorado School Honors Former Teacher, Fallen Airman

Colorado School Honors Former Teacher, Fallen Airman

PEYTON, Colo. – Falcon School District 49 students and faculty gathered to unveil a scoreboard Aug. 13, mounted above the words “Some gave all.”

Students and faculty filled the indoor gym at Stetson Elementary School in Colorado Springs. Dozens of the school’s alumni joined them from nearby Skyview Middle School. They assembled to honor a former teacher, “Mr. A,” also known as “Coach A.”

Philip Ambard, father of five, died last year serving in Afghanistan. While assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy, he worked as a substitute teacher in District 49. Continue reading

Colorado School Starts Tenth Year of ‘Where Everybody Belongs’

Colorado School Starts Tenth Year of ‘Where Everybody Belongs’

PEYTON, Colo. – Hundreds of sixth grade students filed into Falcon Middle School for their first time Aug. 3, many showing signs of curiosity, some uneasiness, others withdrawn.

But when they entered the gymnasium and discovered dozens of eighth grade students applauding their first day of school, wearing black T-shirts with “Where Everybody Belongs” printed in bright green and yellow words, nearly everyone smiled.

The eighth graders were selected to ensure the transitioning students feel comfortable throughout their first middle school experience. The school was set to receive 326 former elementary school students Aug. 3, according to Falcon School District 49 enrollment numbers. Continue reading

Colorado Educators Talk With Top Innovation Leader, Author

Colorado Educators Talk With Top Innovation Leader, Author

PEYTON, Colo. – Hundreds of educators from Falcon School District 49 gathered Aug. 1 for a back-to-school message from a leader in innovative education.

Tony Wagner, a pioneering author of ideas about the future of education, spoke remotely with about 700 teachers and principals in District 49, who were seated at Sand Creek High School in Colorado Springs. They were joined by dozens of district support staff and the Board of Education directors.

“Mr. Wagner will assist us in taking this conversation of innovation … down to where it matters most, down to the individual child, down to the next generation of innovators that must succeed,” said Donald Begier, District 49 executive director for education services, ahead of the meeting in the school’s gymnasium. Continue reading

Waldon Canyon Fire

Colorado Students Rally for Fire Evacuees, District Teacher

PEYTON, Colo. – As the Waldo Canyon Fire claimed its first home June 26, 16-year-old Hannah Hildreth watched a drab smoke plume smear across the sky. Her neighborhood swimming pool had closed due to airborne ash laying down and polluting the water.

“Some of my friends were being evacuated and saying how they just wanted to be back home, and breathe fresh air again – and they couldn’t do that,” said Hildreth, who starts 12th grade next month at Sand Creek High School in Falcon School District 49, roughly 15 miles east of the fire.

The wildland fire, burning for its third day, had torched more than 15,000 acres in and west of Colorado Springs, causing the evacuation of more than 30,000 people. It destroyed 347 structures on 34 streets, announced Mayor Steve Bach on June 28, marking it as the most destructive fire in Colorado history. Continue reading

David Alfredo Orquiz

Virtual Academy Helps Student Beat Adversity, Earn Degree

PEYTON, Colo. – When David Alfredo Orquiz received his high school diploma in Peyton, Colo., May 25, he felt “ready to take on the world.”

Thirty-five high school seniors were celebrated during Falcon Virtual Academy’s first commencement ceremony at Meridian Point Church. Orquiz, 21, was the oldest and arguably the proudest. Falcon School District 49’s online program had helped end an era of hopelessness that almost killed him.

“In September of 2009, my life changed forever when I was rushed to the emergency room,” says Orquiz, recalling his second month as a high school senior in Artesia, N.M. He started routinely losing consciousness, and waking up with needles in his arms, tubes down his throat, nurses huddled over him. Continue reading

Wolbachia Project

Colorado High School Students Dissect Insect DNA for Wolbachia

PEYTON, Colo. – Students in Colorado wrapped up this school year digging through insect genes for a national project.

Falcon School District 49 high school students rummaged through local grasslands this month, collecting insects. After prodding millions of arthropod cells to analyze the DNA of more than 30 specimens, they found two carried a harmful parasite May 22.

Through a series of labs, called the Wolbachia Project, they assisted scientists with measuring the frequency of destructive bacteria and its impact on biodiversity. Continue reading