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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Moving in the right direction

I recently enjoyed a movie called ìThe Wayî about a father who honored his sonís memory by completing El Camino ó a spiritual pilgrimage across Northern Spain. The story features a growing friendship among four strangers whose individual journeyís become a shared achievement. It reminded me a great deal of the path weíre on in District 49.Ten years ago, most of ìusî werenít even part of the district. With more than 9,000 new students joining the district since 2005, our community is bursting with neighbors, classmates, friends and thousands of growing families. Together, weíre on a journey from where weíve been toward our destiny as the Best District to Learn, Work, and Lead. The road ahead is unpredictable, but I can say with certainty that District 49 is moving in the right direction.On any journey, it helps to have leaders that can show us the way. Last month, we celebrated Marvra Winner, one of only nine school leaders in the nation inducted into the NFLís Fuel Up to Play 60 Hall of Fame. Marvraís joy and leadership are on display every day, but especially when she leads the students and staff at Ridgeview Elementary on twice-weekly walkabouts for health and wellness. As if that isnít enough, she leads the Ridgeview community in a monthly Saturday morning walk, too. With leaders like Marvra setting the pace, itís easy to see our district is moving in the right direction.When passions align, working together can propel ideas into reality. At Horizon Middle School, eighth-grade science teachers Tim Lohr and William Yerger are beginning to build an aquaponics based greenhouse and experimental learning space with the help of business and other community members. The space will host plant-based experiments in science classes for all Horizon students. As the greenhouse expands, elementary schools within the district will be able to visit the experimental learning space on field trips. This unique, hands-on experience for our students will also become an avenue for community involvement where we showcase the efforts and success of our learners and workers.In high school, students and scientists are gaining momentum and overcoming obstacles. At Falcon, the districtís original high school, we are proud to host two of the finest professional preparation programs in the nation. Falconís Health Sciences Academy is the undisputed leader in Colorado, and a top performer around the country. At the same time, Falcon and Vista Ridge students, known as the CyberPatriots, are setting new standards as the best network security student clubs in Colorado. It is inspiring to share the path with students who turn learning into leading and show us all the way ahead.Those of us who work and learn in District 49 are deeply grateful for the trust and support of our larger community. When soccer and football teams from any of our schools compete at Vista Ridge or Falcon High, they run on fields of artificial turf donated by construction businesses in our community. When science-minded Scorpions flew to Massachusetts this summer, their fare was paid through the generosity of our education foundation. The privilege of seeing our students hitting their stride is magnified by our pride in being a community that paves the way.Along the Spanish Camino, hostels and refuges welcome pilgrims to rest and recharge. In District 49, we do the same for our children. Our homes, schools and neighborhoods give students what they need to continue on the journey. As we build for the future, we are launching a new generation of learners to work and lead in our community. As they succeed, we succeed. Their progress is our promise, and together ó we are moving in the right direction.

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