How a School United to Tell a Student’s Secret

PEYTON, Colo. (Nov. 15, 2013) — Eleven-year old Katarina Lucardie had a secret she couldn’t hide any longer. She wanted to tell it. She wrote a note.

“I have this cell thing that makes me lose my hair,” wrote the sixth grader last month to her counselor at Skyview Middle School in Falcon School District 49, located in northeast Colorado Springs. “I’m bald, but a I wear a wig.”

Lucardie was born with Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss. When she started fourth grade at Springs Ranch Elementary School, the symptoms progressed. By Christmas, she was bald. Her mother ordered a wig. Continue reading

Colorado Students Give Voice to Domestic Violence Victims

PEYTON, Colo. (Sept. 24, 2013) – Amanda Hanson was 15 years old and more than three months pregnant Aug. 19, 2002, when she was strangled, beaten and stabbed.

An explanation of her boyfriend’s continued carnage was presented Sept 24 at Patriot Learning Center. The horrific mutilation on a trail in Manitou Springs, involving “sticks and a boulder,” sparked a somber embrace for several students. Some cried.

“She was the age of some our freshmen here, so it’s really relatable,” said 12th grader Celine Inge, 17, standing near a life-size cutout of a female figure, constructed of plywood and painted red. Hanson’s story was hung over the figure’s shoulders with a ribbon. Continue reading

Colorado Students Unveil Civil Rights Tribute, Remember 9/11

PEYTON, Colo. – “The hatred I see today bothers me – it bothers a lot of people,” said James Wade, while unveiling a school project Sept. 11.

Wade, 17, a 12th grader known for his creativity at Patriot Learning Center in Peyton, Colo., had led the school’s ninth through 12th grade social studies students’ three-day civil rights project that combined ideas, materials and artworks.

During the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, they unveiled to their school a pictorial tribute to the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Hung in a hallway, a large, bell-shaped pressboard contains the collage of student works, each representing excerpts from King’s speech. A cutout of the word “freedom” is situated as the bell’s clapper. Continue reading

Survival Story Aims to Inspire Colorado Students

PEYTON, Colo. – “You have a choice to be bitter, or get better,” said Rai Henniger, speaking Aug. 9 to a group of high school students in Peyton, Colo.

While Henniger was setting up a fireworks display May 12, 2007, at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, he says it was negligence that led to a powerful explosion. Someone had ignored a critical safety precaution.

The blast threw him 15 feet, leaving him with a 1 percent chance of survival. Continue reading


Preying on Big Data

The falcon soars to a pitch high above a plain, surveying for an attractive piece of data. Another 2.5 quintillion bytes is filling the landscape today, stuffing social media posts, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, cell phone GPS signals and other information systems.

He anticipates the flow of information, staying a step ahead of reactions, considering all environmental conditions. Circling the surroundings, he isn’t expecting the feel of familiarity, but thinking instinctively – nothing is unfamiliar. The characteristics of untrustworthy, unreliable data are consistent across state borders. Continue reading


Voltaire: To Digital Citizen

Ferney, February 20, 1759

Once again, sir, this orange has been squeezed, and now we must save the peel. Perhaps, my peculiar birth was hundreds of years premature. Did I materialize too early, or just in time? For I’ve survived a generation, weak in the body, strong in the mind, paving your rue for truth. Nearly 300 years later, I trust you’re reasoning in novel ways, exposing and uprooting tyrants, sowing innovative utopias, benefitting from a sweeping brilliance.

Monsieur, do you demand skepticism of truth and reasoning? Do you cherish an inalienable right to make use of your pen as of your tongue?

“Respect my master’s absurdities!” says tradition’s slave. “Nay,” yells the enlightened. “Shut your mouth. For your master’s lies shouldn’t earn five minutes from a shelled mollusk.” Continue reading