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Gypsum Elementary honored

Daily Staff Writer

Gypsum Elementary School is the first in Eagle County to be named among Yale University’s Schools of the Twenty First Century.

Yale representative Beth Lapin traveled to Eagle County last week to bestow the honor. During her visit, Lapin also recognized The Youth Foundation for its efforts to improve the lives of children in Eagle and Lake counties.

“Being named as a School of the Twenty First Century is really a testimony to the hard work done by our teachers, our parents and our students to make sure that Gypsum Elementary really is a community center dedicated to doing the right thing for kids,” said the school’s principal, Mike Gass.

Schools of the Twenty First Century is a 20-year-old program of the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University.

So far, 1,300 schools nationwide have earned the designation.

In honoring Gypsum Elementary, Lapin commended the school for engaging the community. Gypsum Elementary offers programs as varied as a breakfast club – which aims to make sure all students have eaten a healthy meal before they begin the day – to an evening preschool that provides child care for parents enrolled in English language classes.

“Beth (Lapin) was overwhelmed by what is happening at that school,” said Kathy Brendza, director of The Youth Foundation. “She said she can just feel the passion and the desire to see things work for kids. She talked about how there was such a lack of territorialism and how different entities were willing to collaborate to get the job done. Ultimately, she said what we are centered around is doing the right thing for kids.”

During her visit, Lapin was introduced to Youth Foundation programs in schools across the district.

“Typically, Schools of the Twenty First Century honors originate from the school, and they then use the recognition to find money and foundations to support their programs,” said Brendza. “We have done it a bit differently here in Eagle County.”

Brendza said The Youth Foundation got involved with the Yale program two years ago, then got local schools involved. Gypsum Elementary is the first school to finish everything needed to be recognized as a School of the Twenty First Century.

“The Youth Foundation has been a great vehicle for providing a wide variety of programs for our kids,” said Gass. “That program is one of the biggest things we have done to support student achievement.”

Gass said students who need some extra help with their studies are referred to the program, which operates two days a week. Eagle County teachers supervise the sessions provide help with homework assignments. Currently, 65 students at Gypsum and 70 at Edwards participate.

Throughout the year, the Youth Foundation operates the Magic Book Bus – a bookmobile that makes its rounds through neighborhoods in Dotsero, Gypsum and Edwards, bringing free books to children. Book bus director Deb Dutmer said the vehicle was donated by Colorado Mountain Express. The book collection is maintained through donations.

“There is a real demand for this,” she said. “During the summer, we lend 400 to 500 books per week.”

At the middle school level, Lapin heard from participants in the academic soccer club. The program operates at Berry Creek and Gypsum Creek middle schools and provides students with a tutoring session followed by a competitive soccer program. Because many of the participants would be otherwise unable to afford fees associated with competitive sports, the program offers academic support and the chance to participate in competitive soccer.

For more information, call 926-3788.


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