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New America School has good turnout at fundraiser

Lauren Glendenning
LGLENDENNING@VAILDAILY.COM

Rogelio Velasco isn’t finished learning yet.

He’s a student at the New America School in Gypsum, a charter school for English language learners that faces a budget shortfall that could prevent it from opening next fall.

More than half of the 107 students who attend the New America School showed up for some friendly games of bingo Friday night at Berry Creek Middle School in Edwards. It was the first of many fundraisers the school would host as part of an effort to raise enough money to stay open next fall.



The school is about $100,000 ” about $820 per student ” short of what it needs. The bingo game was a reminder to everyone at the school that it’s still in danger of closing its doors.

“We think it’s huge to have a school that offers education to Spanish-speaking kids,” said Colin Doyle, whose wife, Jessica, is a teacher at New America School. “So much of the backbone of this community is Hispanic. To let (New America School) go by the wayside would just be awful.”



The fundraiser proved there are many people who are trying not to let that happen. Local businesses such The Fix in Gypsum and nonprofits such SOS Outreach donated prizes for the bingo winners. The Eagle County Charter Academy helped host the event and gave all of the proceeds to New America School.

The Charter Academy donated its bingo equipment, and many faces in the crowd of about 50 people were Charter Academy parents and students playing bingo to support the county’s only other charter school.

It meant a lot to people like Salvador and Moses Virgen, both New America School students who don’t want to say goodbye to their school.



Velasco, an 18-year-old who is still working on learning English, would likely end up going to Battle Mountain High School if the New America School closed. But the New America School has really helped him succeed since he started going there about a year ago. The school’s schedule also allows him to work during the day ” something he can’t afford to stop doing.

“It’s a really good school with really good teachers,” he said. “The principal ” she’s so sweet.”

Principal Kathy Brendza is who many students say make the school so special. She’s personally committed to teaching the students there, and she’s also a friend to many of them.

At bingo night, Brendza walked around hugging her students, and it seemed like none of them wanted to let go.

“We have 60 percent of our kids here tonight,” she said. “This is exactly what we wanted.”

Victor Manjarrez, a 17-year-old New America School student, said he wouldn’t miss the chance to help the school raise money. He said the school has changed his life, and he has high hopes for his future there.

“The school is a good opportunity for me in my life,” he said.


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