Back to school |

Back to school

Matt Terrell
Vail CO, Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyFreshman Desiree Scheetz wears an orientation sign as she tries to locate her next class Tuesday on the first day of school at Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum. Public high schools and middle schools began classes today with most elementary schools starting on Thursday.

EAGLE COUNTY ” The first day of school is different for everyone.

Kid A mysteriously pops out of bed already showered, dressed and filled with oatmeal. The backpack is already packed, the class schedule is laminated and a week’s worth of homework is somehow finished.

Kid B hits the snooze five times, forgets to put on deodorant, chokes down some Frosted Flakes, and, on the way to school, is already dreaming of playing Guitar Hero and eating Cheetos in the basement.

At the elementary schools, the jungle gyms and slides are pretty quiet. The first day of school for the younger kids actually consists of an hour alone with the teacher for a reading test. They spend that time getting to know each other a bit, looking at the classroom and reading together. After this reading assessment, a teacher can decide exactly how to connect with the student on the first day of class.

The middle-schoolers head straight to their adolescent jungles. Many of their friends, who they haven’t seen for a few months, are a good foot taller. One dude has a mustache. They meet their new teachers ” they seem nice enough, but you never know until the homework starts.

The freshmen in high schools see their first glimpse of the next four years, possibly the most important time in their life. The seniors, on the verge of finishing it all, have a special glow.

The teachers and administrators have a few new things to try out this year.

For the first time ever, the school district has a comprehensive reading program for its elementary students. The program, called Literacy By Design, will bring some much needed consistency to reading lessons and help teachers with the difficult, but important task of customizing lessons for every student, officials say.

The school district also is piloting a new state program to help close achievement gaps, those disparities in performance between the poor and the well-off and between Hispanic students and Caucasian students.

And the school district is launching a revamped gifted and education program, a program teachers and parents hope will do a better job of challenging kids in classrooms.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or

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