One day down, 170 to go: Classes start Monday for most Vail Valley schools |

One day down, 170 to go: Classes start Monday for most Vail Valley schools

EAGLE — Monday began the annual sojourn of preparing young emissaries to enter a wonderful and exciting land that many of us will never see — the future.

In other words, school started.

Eagle County Schools opened classes for around 6,800 public school students. The district’s 548 teachers reported for work last Monday. The teachers and students will remain in one another’s company until June 3, the last day of classes for the 2019-20 school year. That’s 171 school days.

Classes also started at Vail Christian High School and Vail Christian Academy. Vail Mountain School starts next week.

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Public school enrollment is close to where it has hovered for the past four years.

High school freshmen reported Monday for orientation as student council members showed the freshmen around.

“It’s hard to beat the first day of school in Eagle County. Parents, children and young adults pour into schools from Gypsum to Vail with smiles and optimism,” Superintendent Philip Qualman said. “The morning air was crisp, a bluebird day. I hope everyone felt the tangible excitement that I did. We wish all parents, students and staff a great school year!” 

Full-day kindergarten for all

One of the biggest changes is full-day kindergarten, said Daniel Dougherty, the school district’s communications chief. State lawmakers agreed to pick up the tab for full-day kindergarten for any family that wants it.

“You can get your learn on full-time,” Dougherty said.

It’s not a huge shift for Eagle County families. Of the 398 kindergartners last year, all but 11 attended school all day, Dougherty said.

The school district has always worked with the community to find the money for full-day kindergarten, Dougherty said.

“Our community has always valued full-day kindergarten,” Dougherty said.

With full-day kindergarten now covered from the state coffers, parents won’t have to pay tuition, and the local school district won’t have to pick up the tab or find a scholarship, Dougherty said.

Vail Christian and Vail Christian Academy too

Vail Christian High School started classes Monday. The freshman class is full, and students were pretty darned excited Monday to be back in school, Headmaster Steve O’Neill said.

“You wouldn’t think they just came off summer vacation. They were energetic and engaged,” O’Neill said.

Service is the Vail Christian theme this year.

“We want to move beyond just clocking hours of community service and resume building for college applications,” O’Neill said.

Day 1 at VCHS was a familiarization tour for incoming freshmen, set up by seniors from the school’s student council and National Honor Society.

“It’s awesome to see the leadership from our senior class,” O’Neill said.

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