School Views: Reflecting on a great school year
As the rivers rise and trails dry out, we take these warm weather signs as a reminder that the school year is nearly over. It’s that time of year when students stare out the window thinking about the weeks ahead when school will be the furthest thing from their minds. Summer break is but a mere week away for most of our students and many of our staff, and I think it is always a good time to reflect back on what we’ve seen over the past year.
Every May I put together a column and attempt to capture the highlights from the year. Inevitably, I miss many of them as the list only continues to grow. Our students never cease to amaze me and their accomplishments are many.
This year we had 34 students from the Eagle County School District qualify to compete in the state Science Olympiad competition from Berry Creek Middle, Eagle Valley Middle and Battle Mountain High School, held at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs campus.
Our high school debate teams continue to excel. In January, teams from both Eagle Valley High and Battle Mountain High took home a number of champion titles and awards at the statewide speech and debate tournament. Across numerous categories, students from both high schools brought home five state championships as well as 19 awards between second place and sixth place. And to top things off, Eagle Valley High School took home the first overall sweepstakes, taking first place in the debate sweepstakes and third in the speech sweepstakes. Battle Mountain also placed well in the overall team awards, taking home fourth in the overall team award and third in the debate team sweepstakes. In total, 16 students qualified for the nationals.
It was another exciting year on the pitch for our boys soccer teams. Both Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain qualified for the state tournament, with the Huskies’ magical run ending in the championship game as they finished second in 4A.
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At the recent state track and field championships, Eagle Valley sent three individuals and two relay squads and Battle Mountain qualified eight individuals and six relays. At the meet, Battle Mountain’s Will Brunner won the 3200-meter race, making him the first boys 4A individual state champion in school history. Presley Smith, also representing the Huskies, took third in the 400-meter race and became the first in school history to run one lap under 58 seconds. The Devils were led at the state meet by Zakia Shreeve, a sophomore who placed ninth and seventh in 100 and 300-meter hurdles respectively.
David Murato, a sixth grader at Eagle Valley Middle School, traveled to Independence, Missouri, earlier this year and was crowned the National Silver Gloves Champion for his age and weight division. At the elementary school level, one of the most exciting things to witness this year was Avon Elementary School surprising 99 first and second-graders with a bicycle (and helmet!) of their own. The equipment was donated by Can’d Aid and assembled by employees of the Boulder-based frozen snack brand Yasso.
Our auditoriums were again full of spectators and applause as Battle Mountain High School delighted audience members with a performance of the popular musical ”Mamma Mia!” and Eagle Valley entertained their crowds with an enchanting performance of “Cinderella.”
We also celebrated some of our staff. Our very own Sarah Brubeck was named the Colorado Physical Education Teacher of the Year, while Torrey Kadatz was awarded the Colorado Middle School Principal of the Year. The Education Foundation of Eagle County awarded many of our local educators with Apple Awards, which are $500 endowments given to staff that exemplify EFEC’s mission of supporting the intellectual and emotional growth of our students.
Looking ahead to next year, our state legislature is making positive strides toward better funding in our schools. Colorado passed “Free Lunch for All” to ensure that every student in our district receives a nutritious lunch every day, no matter their circumstances.
We also continue to make progress at Miller Flats, our Edwards housing project that will provide 37 units to district employees and their families upon completion. And while this project is a step in the right direction, we also continue to look for opportunities to increase the number of available units across the valley.
Looking back over the 2022-23 school year, I couldn’t be more proud. Looking forward, I’m optimistic for what the future holds.
Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County School District. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.