Mike Gass: Great year for student involvement | VailDaily.com

Mike Gass: Great year for student involvement

Mike Gass

Summer is coming to an end and as the beginning of another school year is upon us, we are gearing up for what is sure to be another great year in Eagle County Schools.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Eagle County community members who were in full support of the $128 million bond that was passed in the fall for improvements to our existing schools and construction of new buildings, which will ensure “Great Schools, East to West.” Amongst the various projects that are currently underway, we would like to provide you with a few highlights: June Creek Elementary School will open their doors in September for the 2008-09 school year, Red Canyon High School opened their Edwards campus this past spring break and is looking forward to a brand new school year in a brand new building, Eagle Valley High School will be fluctuating their school year calendar this year and next in order to accommodate the remodel at their facility, and the new state-of-the-art Battle Mountain High School in Edwards is expected to be complete by the fall/winter of 2009.

The upgrades and construction to both existing and new facilities will provide excellent venues for extra-curricular activities as well. Eagle Valley High and Battle Mountain High will both see improvements to their performing arts and auditorium facilities, catering to students involved in clubs, music and theater alike. Expanded and upgraded athletic facilities also will benefit those involved in soccer, football, basketball and much, much more. Changes, upgrades and additions to the indoor and outdoor facilities will prove to be a great community asset for both east- and west-ends of our county, as these events tend to bring our community together in a variety of capacities.

This time of the year, I also begin to approach students and ask them what their plans are for extracurricular activities for the upcoming school year. I often inquire if they have been working hard to stay in shape, training and/or going to camps to become more competitive, and would they like to join one of our many school clubs, student government, drama, music or athletic teams? Many of us take pride in the opportunity to cheer on our students as they test their abilities and go beyond their comfort levels when participating in extracurricular activities. It is exciting to have two dynamic high schools that are in the same conference. While each school struggles with being smaller schools in the 4A conference, both have their moments of success in any given season and any given activity. The team-building mentality and values of sportsmanship instilled in our participants have helped our students build strong character and life skills that will be instrumental in post-secondary adventures.

Our hats go off to the teachers, coaches and sponsors who, year-in and year-out, put their hearts and souls into helping Eagle County Schools’ students compete and succeed in an ever-changing world. These individuals help to create an experience that showcases the talents of our students beyond the walls of the classroom. They do an excellent job of keeping competition in perspective and continually work to develop programs that are all about students. As community members, it is our role to get out and support these young contributing members of society, as they represent Eagle County across the state and across the nation.

There is, and should be, great pride in Western Slope rivalries. As we approach the 2008-09 school year and season, I encourage students, staff, parents, administration and media to continue to remember the pride our student participants take in their activities. Our community has some great traditions and continues to add more opportunities for our students. Please be a part of it and thank you in advance for all of your support of all of the programs in Eagle County Schools.

Mike Gass is the Eagle County Schools’ executive director of secondary education. Look for columns from Eagle County Schools on the first Wednesday of every month this school year.

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