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June Creek Elementary staff: Our school is so much more than just a building

A dark, hollow building with the words “June Creek Elementary” stands forlorn in our rural mountain community of Edwards, Colorado, today, but just six short weeks ago, that same building was animated with the hearts, minds, and souls of the students, families, teachers, and staff members that make a building a school.

That same building was alive with the life force of cultural diversity: where unique cultures, although distinct from one another, were harmonious and united.

That same building was alive with the breath of linguistic diversity: Bulgarian, Japanese, French, Tamil, Jamaican Creole, German, Polish, and the two languages of instruction — Spanish and English.

That same building was alive with the vision of biliteracy, where students have limitless potential to develop into dynamic bilinguals who use their full linguistic repertoires to think, speak, read, and write.

That same building was alive with the vision of equity in educational opportunities, where learners from all cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds have limitless potential to develop into critical thinkers, problem-solvers, collaborators, leaders, mathematicians, scientists, engineers, and global citizens. 

When the message that school would temporarily close in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 on that infamous Friday in March, the news was not met with a cheer of celebration, as one may expect from elementary-aged students, rather the stark opposite. Students clung to their teachers and classmates, eyes brimming with tears, and expressions filled with uncertainty and worry. For June Creek Elementary is much more than a building: It is a place of love. It is a safe haven. It is a home.

Today, the building itself is empty. The building itself is, for all intents and purposes, “closed,” but June Creek Elementary is alive and thriving as the students, families, teachers, and staff members themselves are the culture carriers.

The students, having for the first time access to Chromebooks at home, are hungry to continue their learning remotely, and are eager to stay connected with their teachers and classmates through daily virtual classes and online assignments and projects. The families have rallied behind their students, demonstrating their commitment to their students’ learning during this unprecedented context for education, where families are called upon to do much more. The teachers and staff members are working diligently to support students and families as we all navigate these uncertain and unstable times, recognizing that, more than ever, we need to meet the social-emotional needs as well as the academic needs of our students.  

In this rural mountain community, situated in close proximity to two ski resorts, there are shocking and significant inequities in wealth, and pervasive disparities in academic outcomes, resulting in opportunity and achievement gaps for marginalized groups of individuals. June Creek Elementary knows that while our cultures, languages, and socio-economic statuses are influencing factors on our own identities, they are not, nor should be, defining factors. June Creek Elementary works to overcome the damaging stereotypes that persist in our society today based on one’s race/ethnicity, culture, language, income level, gender, etc., so that students thrive within their learning environments, their homes, their larger communities, and beyond.

June Creek may be small in size, and to some, this may be enough to justify closing the doors of the building as an elementary school permanently, but we are not small where it truly counts. We are large in heart, mind, and soul. We are passionate, courageous, resilient, and empowered. We are a connected community. We are a devoted family. We believe that our voices matter and have the power to influence the decisions that affect us. We believe that everything is possible when we rally together in support of what matters to us most. We believe that the time is now to advocate for the future of our school. 

We are now faced with the devastating reality that June Creek Elementary may not exist as an elementary school next year. We ask that this decision is put on hold until our school and the larger community can recover from the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. We ask that June Creek Elementary remain open for the 2020-2021 school year so that we can explore together, with all stakeholders, the best long-term plan for the schools in the Edwards community.

Voices united in support of June Creek Elementary:

  • Kira Miller
  • Erika Donahue
  • Christine Stone
  • Petya Halacheva
  • Thomas van Cleave
  • Pearl Hess
  • Ana Hernandez
  • Johnna Williams
  • Haley Conroy
  • Elba De Loera
  • Emily Larsen
  • Adrienne Haydu
  • Saira Hernandez
  • Johanna Carrazco Gonzalez
  • Elizabeth Howe
  • Sonia Lozano Tauste
  • Patricia (Sass) Oliphant
  • Kelli Ludwig
  • Joanna (Asia) Oleszczak

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