Local school earns national honor | VailDaily.com

Local school earns national honor

Gypsum Creek Middle School was one of only seven schools in Colorado and 300 in the nation named as a Trailblazer School to Watch.

GYPSUM – Gypsum Creek Middle School’s entire student body gathered in the gym and did the howling wave five times one sunny spring morning.

They’re the Wolves and it was principal Steve Smith’s idea.

Then the students and staff gave Steve Smith a huge standing ovation, which was not his idea, and answered the question, “What’s it take to make a middle school principal blush?”

That would do it.

Students and staff at the local middle school were celebrating after learning they’re among only seven in Colorado and 300 in the nation honored as a National Trailblazer School to Watch. Smith and Diane Lauer of Colorado Trailblazer Schools to Watch Committee gave the students a banner and lots of congratulations.

“You’ve heard it said that it takes a village to raise a child. These children have raised a village,” Smith said.

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Smith has been principal since Gypsum Creek Middle School opened 10 years ago.

Lauer said research shows academic achievement tends to plummet in middle school. They wanted to know why, and to find schools where that’s not true. So they headed to Gypsum.

“We wanted to find schools that are successful, find out what makes them successful and see if that could be duplicated,” Lauer said.

The criteria is academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, school equity and organizational structure.

Schools had to submit a written application showing how they met that criteria. Schools that made the next round were paid a visit to see if what they preach and what they practice are the same.

Every year since 2003 Gypsum Creek Middle School has scored as High Performing in the state’s CSAP tests for improvement, reading, writing, math, science and the arts.

In January they learned they’d made the final round. Lauer visited in March and shortly afterward they learned they’d made the grade.

A group of GCMS teachers will travel to Washington, D.C. this summer to talk to a nationwide group.

“Gypsum Creek Middle School will be recognized on a national stage!” Principal Steve Smith told the gathering of the enthusiastic student body.

Lauer has driven thousands of miles across the length and breadth of Colorado, and says there aren’t many schools like this one.

“It’s an amazing school,” Lauer said. “This school believes that every student is brilliant and capable of achieving at the highest levels.”

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