Eagle County students head back to class | VailDaily.com

Eagle County students head back to class

NWS Back To School 1 DT 8-24-12




EAGLE COUNTY – Thousands of kids found their way to dozens of classrooms Friday as Eagle County’s elementary school students reported for the 2012-13 school year.

Middle and high school public school students have been in class since Wednesday.

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Avon elementary’s first day of school Friday began with a preschool open house, the Cordillera Motorcycle Club roaring in to donate dozens of backpacks, parents bringing in lunch along with dozens of questions, and in the middle of it all the kids learned some stuff.

“It’s just an average day,” said Melisa Rewold-Thuon, Avon elementary principal.

The Cordillera Motorcycle Club rolled up to the front of Avon elementary sounding like the bass and baritone sections of the Great American Symphony – the well-tuned internal combustion engine. Even the bikers’ full face helmets couldn’t hide their grins as they were greeted by dozens of kindergartners and first-graders.

The Cordillera Motorcycle Club has been around 15 years. Ten years ago they launched their foundation and not long after that they started donating school supplies and backpacks to local public school kids.

One day they were meeting with some principals who expressed all sorts of gratitude for the school supplies. But what the kids really needed, they said, was breakfast.

“The kids need food more than school supplies,” said Greg Allen, one of the riders with the Cordillera Motorcycle Club. “You have no idea how many kids show up without having had anything to eat.”

Instead of choosing between supplies and food, they decided they’d help provide both.

Last year they helped provide 40,000 breakfasts for kids in six local schools.

“Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry. We think this makes a difference,” said Bob Schmidt with the Cordillera Motorcycle Association.

While talking to adults, the bikers picked up kids and sat them on Harleys, BMWs and other high end bikes, as kids blew the horns. Motorcycle horns are loud, and the bikers kept at it until every kid had cycled through every cycle and blew every horn.

School starts Monday at Vail Mountain School, but kindergarten students showed up Friday to get acquainted.

“The start of any new school year is filled with anticipation of all that can be achieved,” said VMS Headmaster Peter Abuisi. “This year is especially exciting because it is the 50th in the school’s history, and so in addition to all of the learning we expect to accomplish, there will be many opportunities to celebrate as well.”

Elementary school students took their preliminary testing on Wednesday and Thursday. Dozens of high school athletes are already at fall sports practice.

And so began 171 student contact days in this year’s public school calendar. The calendar committee – one parent from each school, two teachers, someone from the school district’s a transportation department representative, two principals and a school board member – waded through 350 phone surveys and more than 700 web surveys to put together this year’s public school calendar.

Respondents said they wanted a full week off during Thanksgiving and to be done by Memorial Day, and that’s what they’ll get.

Of those responding, 80 percent said they liked the two week-long breaks in the second semester, the mid-winter break and spring break. They’re part of the calendar, said Brooke Macke, the school district’s communications director.

School lunches will keep getting healthier, Macke said. It’s part of the school district’s Fresh Approach program. They’re replacing processed and unhealthy food in school cafeterias with food that’s good for them, and tastes good.

“The Fresh Approach initiative will expand to all schools by incorporating self-serve, fresh fruit and vegetable bars in every single elementary, middle and high school,” Macke said. “Chefs are being trained on scratch-cooking techniques and much more.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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