we are thankful~November 21, 2020

COVID Clarifications

We have received lots of questions and faced confusion when we have had classes, individual students, and staff members who have had to go into quarantine. First and foremost I would like for you to know that these decisions are made by district administration and Public Health based on guidelines set by the state. We are mandated to abide by these guidelines. Yes, they have changed from time to time, but this is true with all things COVID related as we learn more and as the situation evolves.

  1. Classroom Quarantines: If a student or staff member in a classroom tests positive for COVID , the classroom cohort must quarantine. Because we keep our classes in cohorts and they do not interact with students in other classes, we can quarantine just that classroom and no others. If we have staff beside the classroom teacher who has been in close contact with that student within the timeline of contagion, they will also be quarantined. The length of the quarantine is determined by the time frame of when the class was exposed, when the person who is positive was tested and/or began to exhibit symptoms. It is possible that a student or staff member is positive but the class does not need to quarantine because they were not at school during the time they are considered contagious.
  2. Individual Quarantines: If a student or staff member is a close contact to a friend or family member who is COVID positive, they will have to quarantine. For students, the absence will be marked as excused if the reason is clearly communicated to our health office and we will follow our regular procedures for school work. Students will not participate remotely but will be provided their work in small increments throughout their absence so they don’t fall too far behind. They will receive time after their return to make up missed assignments.
  3. Close Contact Definition: Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period* starting from 2 days before illness onset until the time the patient is isolated. For asymptomatic patients, the cumulative time would start 2 days prior to COVID testing . * Individual exposures added together over a 24-hour period (e.g., three 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes). 
  4. Remote Learning due to class quarantine: In the event a class quarantines, students and staff are expected to participate in learning remotely and follow the regular school schedule as much as possible. Materials will be distributed so that learning can take place at home. Teachers send out a link via email for students to remotely join their class. SMARTS teachers may be at school but will still provide instruction to the quarantined class.
  5. Why were Chromebooks sent home yesterday? Although cases are rising in Canon City, at the time I write this our district has not plans or intention of going remote (in spite of the many rumors out there). However, out of an abundance of caution and due to those rising cases, we decided that we would send things home that students might need if we do happen to have to go to remote learning. This would make the transition much easier than having to ask families to come to school to pick up materials. Hopefully, on November 30th, kids will just be able to bring them all back to school with them.

Thank you!!

You have to look hard to see the dividers now. This is Mrs. Rivera’s class sorting leaves. Bet you noticed the kids and the leaves before you noticed the dividers!

When the school year started, we all had to make many adjustments due to COVID 19 restrictions. We wanted to have kids in front of us and not just see them through a computer so we did what we could. One of our biggest challenges was how we were going to be able to maintain physical distancing between students  in our classrooms. This proved to be especially concerning at Canon Exploratory School where, due to our Project Based Learning model, most of our primary classrooms had tables students shared rather than desks, and students in this age group are not required to wear masks. Our district did a wonderful job with the resources that were available at the time. Our Head of Maintenance, Jeff Peterson, quickly turned out dividers for each of those classrooms. Because of the high demand at that time for plexiglass, the only type of screen available then was a corrugated plastic. While this did a great job keeping kids separated, it was not exactly seethrough which created a whole new set of problems. During parent/teacher conferences, one of our amazing parents saw these dividers in her son’s classroom and went to work to remediate the problem. She reached out to McCasland Glass and some of our always generous community supporters. As a result, they were able to make clear dividers out of plexiglass that almost disappear in the classroom but still provide the separation needed to keep our kids safe and healthy. We want to send out a HUGE thank you to the following people for making this happen:

-Edie Ashley, amazing parent and organizer

-Chuck and Heather McCasland of McCasland Glass for their donation of product and service

-Debbie Betts of The Mortgage company and Carla Braddy of Coming Home Realty for their generous monetary donations

“Together We Make a Difference” is our school motto. Thank you all for demonstrating to our school and community that this is really true and for making such a positive difference in the lives of our students and teachers

From Project Proposal to Reality

Over a year ago, Mason Lenard began a project in Mrs. Montoya’s class on mountain biking and identified a need in the community for a new type of bike park. He ended up making his proposal to the Fremont Adventure Recreation (FAR) board. They thought it was a great idea and Mason’s dream began its journey to reality. From the Daily Record:

The Cañon City Area Recreation and Park District, through a partnership with Fremont Adventure Recreation, recently opened “Smooth Criminal,” a 0.8-mile one-way mountain bike flow trail in the Schepp Open Space.

This 160-acre property was donated by Walter Schepp in 2015 to create additional outdoor recreational opportunities for the community.  Smooth Criminal will take mountain bikers on a terrain-induced roller coaster experience, with little pedaling. Braking will be necessary for many areas based on skill level. Participants should note that flow trails are designed for intermediate and expert level riders. This is something beginners work up to. Flow trails typically contain features such as banked turns, rolling terrain, various types of jumps and consistent and predictable surfaces.

The Recreation District was approached by Cañon Exploratory Student Mason Lenard about creating additional mountain biking opportunities on the Schepp Open Space to encourage new riders.  After meeting with the Recreation District Board of Directors and speaking with FAR, a master plan was developed to create several flow trails and a bike park. In December 2019, both Mason Lenard and Brian LeDoux of FAR met with the District Board to present the plan and get approval. It was approved unanimously. The trail would be constructed using the 1% For Trails funding through FAR and their numerous sponsors. This plan will be phased in to match existing funding levels. The creation of Smooth Criminal is phase one. This project is made possible by the Recreation District, Fremont Adventure Recreation, the City of Cañon City and Fremont County all working together.

Smooth Criminal is the second addition to the South Cañon Trail System since it opened in 2016. The start of the trail is at the Ecology Park parking lot and winds through the Schepp Open Space. The trail ends when it hooks up with Gloria’s Groove, near Sand Hill.  Extreme caution should be used when riding the flow trail. Riders should practice the ‘pre-ride, re-ride, free-ride’ approach to trail riding – allowing two cautious rides of the trail before riding at speed. The trail is designed to aid in skill progression, with the right-hand side of the trail supporting intermediate riders, and the left side offering larger features and jumps.

The Smooth Criminal flow trail is designed for mountain bikes only and for safety reasons no hiking, running or horseback riding is allowed. The flow trail is designed specifically for intermediate and expert level mountain biking, beginners should ease into this. All riders should do at least two pre-rides on the trail at a very slow pace to learn the trail to make sure they are more comfortable with the trail, and finally do a free ride where they are comfortable with their speed.

South Cañon Trails, which includes Schepp Open Space, Fremont County and BLM land, has many trails designed for all user groups. The Recreation District, in conjunction with groups such as FAR, will continue to look at expanding outdoor recreational opportunities close to town for all user groups in the future.

Food over Thanksgiving Break:

Thank you for reading! Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

~Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

October is Ending with lots of learning and fun!–October 31, 2020

Highlights from Quarter One:

A Message from our founder, Molly Merry:

Ivywild: The Treasured History of a Neighborhood by Molly Merry and Linda  Johnson — Kickstarter

Learning Through Historic Times

One of the founding principles of Exploratory learning is the ability to learn through life experiences. Students right now are living history, and, importantly, they are watching to see how the adults in their life handle this challenge. The staff at CES and throughout the district have faced this challenge seriously and with integrity for the continued importance of students’ education. While your kids continue their learning through the curriculum, they are also learning invaluable lessons about community, communication, problem solving, personal responsibility, and adjustment. They are also seeing the critically important role of science and the medical professionals who must study and explore how we can keep ourselves and others healthy. Because of their dedication, your teachers will continually provide for a solid curricular foundation, but they will also make sure your kids understand that there is learning beyond the curriculum through what they are living. I am grateful for these ‘heroes’ who are working with children every day!

Character Day!

We had our annual Character Day on Thursday. Students and staff all dress as a character from a book. It’s always fun to see the creative costumes and to find out what kids are into reading.

CCSD COVID Corner: Helpful Info for Parents

covid19 resources logo

The Canon City School District website now has a link to help parents navigate COVID information as it pertains to our students and our schools. Here you will find the latest news about COVID, testing information, and assistance in when you should keep your child at home. You can find this “COVID Corner” resource by going to canoncityschools.org, then the Parent tab. You can also find it by clicking this link: https://www.canoncityschools.org/apps/pages/covid19resources

As you probably know, CES has recently been impacted by COVID as we have had two of our classroom cohorts quarantined. One of the classes will return Monday and the other Tuesday. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff and families for their cooperation, flexibility, and care. Angie Cecil, our Health Tech, has been amazing–working diligently and patiently to navigate this unknown territory. Trish Sallie, our district nurse, has spent many extra hours contacting parents and helping staff. Our teachers have gone above and beyond continuing to provide high quality instruction from home, and Jessi Hamilton gave up a chunk of her weekend contacting parents and helping distribute materials to families. I would also like to thank our families for being so gracious and patient as they have had to pick up their kids on short notice, get COVID tests done, make sure their children are logging into online instruction, and for being cooperative and understanding that these circumstances are out of our control. Our school motto of “Together We Make a Difference” has really come into play as we have worked to keep our kids and staff safe and healthy. Thank you!

Learning with Pumpkins

October is pumpkin time! Kindergartners in Mrs. Rivera’s class learned about their 5 senses in Science by exploring pumpkins and pumpkin seeds. Thank you Pueblo Bank and Trust for donating pumpkins to our school so that kids could use them for some hands on learning and be able to take them home to enjoy!

Recently Featured:

Bringing Music to Life is a non profit organization that works to provide musical instruments to students around the state of Colorado. In their October newsletter they featured Ms. Janitell and how her students are coping during these unusual times.

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

End of the 1st Quarter 2020–October 16, 2020

We have made it to the end of the first quarter of the year! Whoo Hoo! We are thrilled that we have been able to stay in-person this entire time in spite of the doubts that we wouldn’t be able to stay open for long. It has not been a normal quarter, but it’s been wonderful to have our students in the building still learning in our “Exploratory” way as much as we can possibly provide. We’ve had projects presented virtually to parents, COVID safe field trips, Buddy Time through our Chromebooks, and physically distanced collaboration and more–creatively making this all work and keep our kids and staff safe and healthy.

Learning to Solve Crimes in Tech Ed

CSI is an elective course offered to our middle school students. They have been learning about Crime Scene Investigation units in depth. To give them a little experience in solving a crime, Mrs. Bryan adapted a Breakout.edu game to fit the class. Students had to determine if Nar Rator (NarRator 🙂 was not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty of premeditated murder. Students had to read Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart, decipher breakout locks based on figurative language using a black light to see hidden directional clues, telegrams linking to questions about the story, find a hidden key in the crime scene, and several other clues based on the story. Once students were able to break into the box, they were greeted with Nar Rator’s sentencing at his trial (not guilty by reason of insanity) and some yummy gummy body parts.

Rangers’ Trip to the Mollie Kathleen

The Rangers Community went on their first field trip of the year to the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine in Cripple Creek this Wednesday. After lots of planning and communication to all parties involved, we had a very successful mine tour of what hard rock gold mining used to look like in the 18 and 1900’s. It was great to get the kids out of school for the day to get some real world learning experience that goes along with our Rocks and Minerals unit. Everybody had fun and learned a lot.

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

We’ve made it all the way to week 7!~October 2, 2020

We weren’t sure we would stay in session for two weeks, but here we are at the end of week 7 and all is going well. I haven’t been able to get my blog out every single week, because with our cohorts and less movement around and outside of the building, it’s been hard for me to capture the typical learning that happens at CES on a daily basis, but rest assured there is still wonderful and rich experiences happening every all day every day. Hopefully, we will be able to continue to be in-person for the rest of our school year! Over the next few weeks, you may hear about how some of our restrictions are lightening up a bit. If your children attend CES, rest assured that we are still taking lots of safety precautions but we will be able to expand our cohorts from just the individual classrooms to their communities. From there we are slowly going to be able to add back some of the things we do in normal times and I’ll do my best to report our progress here.

Field Trips During COVID times

Mrs. Saffold’s class was able to take our first field during these COVID times last week to Florrisant Fossil Bed as part of their Rock/Geology Conceptual Unit. Students had to wear masks while on the bus and all of the their activity took place outdoors. They were able to explore geology concepts and hunt for fossils. It was a beautiful day and a successful first field trip.

Virtual Buddies

Something we have not been able to do in our Exploratory way has been our Buddy time since our cohorts can’t mix (that will be changing soon–yay!), but several of our teachers are getting creative and using their Chromebooks to continue their buddy work. Mrs. Saffold’s class is partnering with Mrs. Rivera’s Kindergarten class and Mrs. Strong’s class is working with Mrs. Hartman’s. The kids have adapted amazingly and are enjoying getting to work together.

A Calendar Change Heads Up

There will not be school for students on Friday, October 30. We have needed to make a change to our school calendar district wide to accommodate the extra time needed to complete Parent/Teacher conferences due to COVID restrictions and guidelines which were not anticipated at the time the calendar was created last February. Since CES is the only elementary school in the district on quarters and because we like to get our parents in as soon as possible, our conferences have been completed this last week and a few will still happen next week. Our teachers have had to work very late into the evenings, and take their plan and lunch times to accommodate the modified scheduling necessary to comply with safety guidelines. Staff will report to work on the 30th but students will not attend–again, this is district-wide.

Trailblazers are Busy!

Our middle school students have been busy! Ms. Heifner has been looking for ways to make Math a bit more Exploratory and found the answer if having her students create board games that showcased math concepts. The kids got to use their multiple intelligences to create the games and it was a fun way to demonstrate their learning. On Fridays the folks from The Green Thumb Initiative having been coming to work with our students teaching them about gardening, eating healthy, and tackling Social Emotional Learning topics. They often bring the kids some good food made from the fresh produce they’ve grown–just the way to get to a middle schooler’s heart is through their stomachs!

Ordering Pictures

Back to School: Mantle-perfect school portraits – The Mercury News

Adapting to COVID restrictions, Interstate has moved from providing envelopes for ordering pictures to a purely online format. If you are still in need of ordering, click this link to be take to their site:
Order online at inter-state.com/FlyerEntry/49719SF

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

CES RECEIVES some special Treatment!

Catalyst Church is a relatively new church, about 5 years old, that meets at MVCKS on Sunday mornings. Pastors, Ryan McBride and Justin Banks decided to cancel services on September 6 and instead hold “Labor of Love Sunday.” In honor of Labor Day, Catalyst small groups were challenged to love their community by performing acts of service around town. One small group, that included CES families, chose to paint the sidewalks and south blacktop at CES with new activities for the students to play on during recess. About 25 people donated supplies and spent several hours completing the work. You can now find things to do such as a life-sized Chutes and Ladders game, a new 4-square grid, a math fact caterpillar, a bean bag target, and sensory paths on both the east and west sidewalks of the building! The basketball hoop on the blacktop has been painted and even has a new net. New nets were also donated for the other basketball hoops by Explorer Park. 

Living and Learning in COVID times

Some important information for our CES families:

Now that we are 4 weeks into school, I thought it would be a good time to share some information with you that will help us continue to see kids in person and stay safe and healthy. We have learned a few things that we have needed to tweak, and we have made some necessary changes.  Please keep in mind that many of the things we need to do now are mandated by the CDC, the health department, and the Colorado Department of Education. Many schools across the state are not seeing kids in person and are completely online, many others are seeing kids only two days a week (like our high school is doing) to keep the numbers low, but in Canon City, we are able to see all of our K-6 and, here at CES the 7th/8th graders, every-single-day all-day because of the precautions we have in place. We all hope that one day soon, these will lightened or even lifted, but for now, this is our reality. Although inconvenient, I for one, am happy to do it to be able to see our little Explorers in classrooms each day. Anyway, here are the things we need you to understand and/or be reminded of:

  • Because we are not able to mix up our co-horts, we cannot allow children to come into the building before school regardless of the weather conditions. Teachers are not officially “on duty” until 7:50. Therefore, we are unable to provide any supervision until that time. We would like to respectfully request that you drop off your children as close to 8:00 as possible. Many of our teachers are beginning to do temp/symptom checks a few minutes before 8:00 but it would be quite helpful if the majority of our students arrive at school between 7:55 and 8:00.
  • If you choose to walk your children up to the building or are waiting for them after school, please adhere to the physical distancing guidelines of others who are not in your family or wear a mask. Also, please keep your younger children with you and do not let them play in areas where our students may be. This is to limit the exposure of our students to those who are not in their class cohort. We love seeing our parents and this makes us sad to have to request this, but again, we want to make sure we are doing all we can to stay open.
  • You may have heard that we have been able to bring the kids into the Compass Cafe’ for lunch. We just wanted you to know that we are doing this in a manner that will keep the kids cohorted and safe by keeping our each class in certain sections of the room and not allowing students to cross zones. It worked quite well for us on Thursday and we were excited to get to use our “new” cafeteria furniture that we inherited from CCMS. Please be advised that we are still unable to allow parents or other family members to join their children at lunch. 
  • Although masks do not need to be worn by our students who are younger than 5th grade, masks are required for students to sing in music class or in their classroom. This is a district/school board decision that was made so we can still offer singing as an option. We feel this is a much better alternative than cutting this opportunity. There are districts in our state that have chosen to not even have a music program, PE, and other specialty classes at all. So we are very thankful that our district recognizes the importance of these types of activities and classes and seeks to find a solution that allows us to continue to offer them to our students. 

Although we may not agree with the types of guidelines we are having to follow, I beg of you to keep an open mind. When I walk around our building on a daily basis, it is far from the normal I used to see in our school and it makes me sad. But, then I’m reminded that from March to May we were seeing our students only through a computer screen, and I am thankful for the energy and activity that is taking place within the walls of CES. What we are experiencing right now is temporary and hopefully, very soon, we will be able to get back to normal but in the meantime, we will all do our very best to keep our kids safe, healthy, and in front of us.

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Playing and Learning Together ~Sept. 6, 2020

New Band Instruments

Ms. Janitell receiving the new instruments.

Last spring, Nicole Janitell applied on CES’s behalf to the non-profit Bringing Music To Life, a company based in Colorado with the goal to bring music into every school possible. She expressed the need for more expensive instruments, like French Horns, Baritones, and Saxophones, to be accessible through the school so that all students have access to the instrument they want to play in band. Despite COVID, Canon Exploratory School was the fortunate recipient of four donated and refurbished instruments: A small bass drum, a Yamaha Alto Saxophone, a Holton Double French Horn, and a half-size Cecilio Baritone.The CES Music department is beyond grateful for the donations of Bringing Music to Life, and cannot wait to put these instruments into students’ hands!

Playground Fun

We are still enjoying our new playground even though with our COVID restrictions we have to take turns going to the different zones for our recesses. The kids have been doing a really good job respecting the fact that they must stay in one area of the playground with their class cohort, and they get to switch to a new zone every day. CES is so fortunate to have such wonderful adults who supervise the kids to keep them safe and reinforce our Choice Theory culture. Playing together provides many opportunities to learn collaboration, compromise, and creativity.

Camp Jackson 2020

Every year our middle school students take a trip up to Camp Jackson which is a YMCA campground near Lake San Isabel. They usually spend the night but this year could only do a day trip which was disappointing but we were glad they were able to do that at least. Camp Jackson is an invaluable and memorable experience for our kids. While there they have the opportunity to rock climb, hike, do low ropes, and play team building and leadership games. This experience brings them together as a family, allows them to get to know one another and their teachers better, and brings out their strengths and leadership qualities. It was a great day!

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Explorers are Off to a Good Start! ~August 21, 2020

Here we are at the beginning of another year–the most different year ever! Some things don’t change: anxious and excited students and parents, lots of smiles and giggles, lugging in a load of school supplies, meeting new teachers and students, and making new friends. However, many things are different: all staff wearing masks in the building, eating lunch outside (or in the classroom when the weather doesn’t cooperate), not getting to play with kids in other classes, keeping our distance from our friends, and not getting the morning hug or high five from your teachers. In spite of all this, we are thrilled to have kids back in the building! And, we would like to thank all of our parents for being so accommodating, flexible, and cooperative!

Our First Days in Pictures…

A Different Type of Classroom Night

Since we couldn’t conduct our Back-to-School classroom night like we normally would, our teachers have gotten creative. For example, some of them held a live-stream meeting or have made recordings with a follow-up Q and A. Some of our teachers are waiting until next week so that they have a better idea of the concerns and questions you may have in our new COVID reality. If you haven’t already had your Classroom Night, you will be hearing from your child’s teacher soon.

“Should I send my child to school today?” Here are some things to know…

Before you bring your child to school, please check for the following symptoms:

  • fever of 100.4 or higher
  • feeling feverish, having chills
  • new or unexplained persistent cough
  • shortness of breath
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of taste or smell
  • fatigue
  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • runny nose or congestion

If your child has any of the above symptoms or has someone in the home who has been diagnosed with COVID- 19 in the prior 10 days, or has been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, please keep them home.

Please be aware that once your child is at school if they present symptoms, we are required take them to the isolation room where they will be supervised by our school nurse and will remain until a parent comes to pick them up. During their time in the isolation room they will have to wear a mask.

CES isolation room for our sick students

PTO Meeting

Our first PTO meeting of the year will be virtual. We have a lot of important business to do including electing new officers. We hope you can join us on August 27th at 6:00. You can use this link to join our meeting: https://meet.google.com/zas-gmqi-bcy

Stay Informed with “All-School Remind”

If you haven’t already, please join my All-School Remind group. This way you can get notifications of school closure and other important information and stay informed. Just text @979fc6 to 81010 or follow this link: https://www.remind.com/join/979fc6

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Let’s do this! ~August 22, 2020

Reopening Reminder Letter to CES Parents

Dear CES Families,

After nearly 5 months away from school, we all are excited to come back together in person. There have had to be many changes made in order for us to do to reopen and we hope you all will be understanding and patient as we wade through these new waters and learn together how to make this new reality work. Although I know we have sent out information already and many of your teachers have contacted you, I just wanted to send out a few helpful reminders for you since things are so different this year.

1. Our front doors will remain locked until 8:00. Students are not able to come into the building until the bell rings.

2. Middle School students will enter in the north entrance by the music room. All other students are to report to the classroom outside door. Sadly, there will not be any morning recess

3. Breakfast will be served in the classroom (if your child has ordered it).

4. Unfortunately, we are not able to have you bring school supplies prior to the first day of school. Please bring them with you on Monday.

5. If you need to pay your tech fee, you may do that through Parent Portal or you can see Shirlee after 8:00 on Monday.

6. We do not have an early release Friday until Sept. 4th.

7. Monday is a full day of school.Dismissal times are 3:10 for middle school and 3:15 for everyone else. However, some of your classroom teachers will be in touch with a bit of an adjustment for some communities in an effort to make it easier for us to limit the amount of exposure between students in communities. If you don’t hear from your teacher of a different pick up time, you can assume your time is 3:15 for K-6 students.

8. Students in K-4 grades are not required to wear masks but may if they so choose. Masks are required for 5th grade on up–our teachers will make sure to provide mask break times by taking their classes outdoors at times throughout the day.

9. If your child is choosing to be online for school, you will receive your Chromebook here at CES. They will be available on Monday for you to pick up if you have paid your tech fee. We recommend you wait until after 8:30 to come and get them so you can avoid the craziness of the start of the day.

Please understand that all of the restrictions and guidelines we have in place are so that we can keep our doors open to our students. We are so excited to see their faces next week and will do our very best to keep them safe and keep us open. We are functioning under the guidelines set forth by Public Health and by our school district.


Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal and Jessi Hamilton, CES Principal Pro-tem/Case Manager

Our Staff Have Been Busy!

Although we had to do things a bit differently than we have in the past, we still started our year together in professional development training that included our Choice Theory culture, Instructional practice, Social Emotional Learning, and more. Much of our training took place outside but we were able to utilize our large gym and the Compass Cafe’ (notice our new furniture compliments of CCMS). Additionally, staff spent the week getting rooms ready for students with accommodations made for physical distancing and blended learning. It’s a whole new world for us and we are doing our best to make it as safe and welcoming as possible.

We can’t wait to see our Explorers!

Thank you for reading!

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

We’re Back! ~August 7,2020

After a bit of a hiatus, the Compass Communication Blog is back and hopefully, I will be able to publish weekly once again with lovely pictures of your children learning with our wonderful teachers. In the interim, I will to take this opportunity to share information about how we will return to school this year with our COVID-19 restrictions and health department guidelines in place.

Letter to Parents about Reopening Plan:

stay safe be kind inscription on stone

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Dear CES Parents,

We are anxious to get our students back into our buildings and I am sure most of you are anxious about that as well, but you probably have a lot of questions. Below you will find some information to guide you as we plan to reopen on August 17th. Please understand that we are functioning under the mandates and guidelines set forth by the Colorado Department of Education and our local Public Health Department with due diligence to keep our school open and with in-person instruction. As we have all experienced, things are constantly changing, and although these are our plans for now, stay tuned for any new developments.

  1. CES students in all grades will return to school for regular school hours and on our planned school calendar. School hours are K-6=8:00-3:15 and 7th/8th=7:45-3:10.
  2. All students who attend 5th-8th grade MUST wear a mask. By choosing the in-person option, you are agreeing to the guidelines that have been put into place and that includes masks. Students who refuse to wear a mask during the school day will be sent to the office for a behavioral referral. Students in grades younger than 5th are not required to wear a mask but may choose to do so. Staff will all be required to wear masks.
  3. Each classroom will be a “cohort”. This means that students in each class will only interact with the students within that room and not with students in other classrooms. While we are happy that we will be able to be in-person, this does make us a bit sad since it will mean that our communities will not be able to be together in the same way as usual. We hope this restriction will lift in the near future.
  4. Breakfast will be served in the classroom after the morning bell, however, breakfast is not free. If your child would like to eat breakfast at school, their account will be charged.
  5. Lunch will either be served in the classroom or outside depending on the weather. Students will remain in their cohorts to eat and for all recesses.
  6. We will not have “community supplies” and instead each child will use their own school tools. However, there may be times when students will need to borrow something and we will do our best to sanitize in between uses.
  7. All of our bathrooms, classrooms, and high-touch services will be sanitized throughout the day.
  8. We respectfully request that you bring your child/ren to school as close to the morning bell (8:00 for K-6 and 7:40 for MS) as possible to limit the exposure of students outside of their cohorts.
  9. We also respectfully request that you use our designated community pick up zones at the end of the day. If you don’t remember or are new, don’t worry, your classroom teacher will share those zones with you soon.
  10. The front door of our building will remain locked until 8:00. Students will not be able to enter through the front door. They must report to their outside classroom door unless they are tardy.
  11. Please pre-screen your child/ren for symptoms prior to dropping them off for school. If they have any symptoms, please keep them home and call the health tech office at 276-6052. Please do not medicate your child for fever prior to sending them school. In an effort to limit the number of ill students being sent to school, our attendance policy for the 20-21 school year has been changed from 6 parent excused absences to 10.
  12. Unfortunately, we will not be able to have Before School Sports, Hiking Club, Student Council, etc for the time being.
  13. At this time, we are not able to have parent night events. Therefore, our Ice Cream Social, Classroom Night, and Culture Night have all been canceled. We hope to offer a virtual version of Classroom Night and Culture Night very soon.

Quick Glance of Keypoints:


  • Elementary- 8:00-3:15
  • Middle School- 7:40-3:10
  • Please do your best to drop off children as close to start time as possible
  • Front doors will remain locked until 8:00. Students will not enter through the front door. They must report to their outside classroom door.
  • 6th-8th and staff will wear masks (required)
  • K-4th- masks are optional
  • Students with 100.4 temps or higher will be sent home (please pre-screen your child(ren). 
  • Please keep your child/ren home if they exhibit any symptoms.

Thank you so much for your understanding and patience during this difficult time. We are doing our best to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for our students and staff. We all are so anxious to get started and see your beautiful children’s faces again!

Please follow our school blog at cescompass@wordpress.com for the most up to date information. You can also find us on Facebook (look for Canon Exploratory School). A recent live feed we posted can be found here: Lunch-n-Learn 8/7/2020


Kelly Albrecht, Principal and Jessi Hamilton, Principal Pro-tem

Pay For It (making lunch account deposits)

shopping business money pay

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you would like to make deposits into your child’s lunch account, here are the directions:

  1. open your parent portal
  2. go to “announcements’
  3. find the hyperlinks for registration
  4. there you will find “checklist items”
  5. follow that link to anything you need to upload or complete as part of registration and that includes “Pay for It” for school lunches and breakfasts.

New Staff:

I posted these last spring, but that’s been a while so I thought it would be worth posting again. I would like for you to “meet” our two new middle school teachers and our new Principal Pro-tem who will take over full-time as principal next school year (21-22) after I retire. I am excited for all of these new hires!

Principal Pro-tem=Our Future Principal!


Hi! I’m Jessi Hamilton. I’m a third-generation Canon City local.  My husband Joel and I have three children; Declyn (7th), Abrielle (5th at CES), and Kason (2nd at CES). Our family enjoys hiking, biking, and walking the local trail systems.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work in our wonderful school, in this new capacity! This year marks the end of my 16th year in education. The first eight years were as a special education teacher and the last eight have been as a special education case manager at Canon Exploratory and McKinley. Having worked at CES since opening its doors, I’m already an Explorer who knows, supports, and loves our culture of Choice Theory, Multiple Intelligences,  and Explorations. I look forward to partnering with each of you as we continue to take our motto of, “Together we make a difference,” outside our school walls and into the community!


Our New Middle School Teachers

Hello to the CES family!
My name is Brianna Heifner, and I am the new 7th & 8th grade Math & Science teacher for the 2020-21 school year! I am so excited to meet
 all of you, and to get this next year started! I was born and raised in Canon City, graduated from Canon City High School, and went to Colorado State University-Pueblo, and earned a degree in Biology Education with minors in Leadership Studies and Communication & Rhetoric. I did my student teaching at CCHS, but have done countless field experiences all over Pueblo. I have worked for the district for 3 years as the speech and debate coach at the high school as well.
Some of my favorite science topics include wildlife management and indoor gardening. 🙂
A few other fun facts about me:
  • I love to be outdoors, specifically camping and whitewater rafting.
  • Traveling to new places is one of my favorite hobbies.
  • I have a Calico kitty named Puddy.


Dear Parent(s) and Students:

My name is Sam Wyss, and I am the new 7th-8th Grade Multi-age Social Studies and English Language Arts Teacher.  I am originally from Westminster, Colorado, and have been living in Spokane, Washington for the last two years, teaching 5th Grade at Saint George’s School. My Bachelor’s Degree is from Gonzaga University, where I studied Philosophy and Elementary Education with an emphasis in Elementary Literacy. My Master’s Degree is from the University of Colorado: Denver, where I studied Critical Pedagogy, with an emphasis in Elementary Mathematics. I started my teaching career in 5th grade at Colfax Elementary, in the Denver Public Schools. After three years of being in Denver, my wife and I moved to Spokane, Washington, where we have been for the last two years.

A little more about me:

  • I am passionate about being outdoors (hiking, hunting, and running)
  • I am currently training for an Ironman (a triathlon with swimming, biking, and running)  this June
  • My wife was my kindergarten best friend
  • Our dog’s name is Chief, which is also Eric Church’s (country artist) nickname. He’s a chocolate lab.

We look forward to seeing our students soon!

Thank you for reading!

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Wrapping Up an Unusual Year~May, 9, 2020

Message from CES: Keep on Exploring!

befunky_pledge (1)

Our staff share the school pledge

Thank you Mrs. Rivera for putting this together!

Battle of the Books

Screenshot 2020-05-07 at 3.36.23 PM (1)

This last week our Battle of the Books team, led by their sponsor Mrs. Rivera, competed virtually with teams from around the district. I am happy to report that our Explorer team placed second!! Whoo Hoo! That is quite an accomplishment and they have worked hard all year longs reading books and preparing to compete. They showed great tenacity to stick with it throughout this time of distance learning. Good job team!

Message to CES families: Wrapping up the Year

Dear CES Families,

As we are approaching the end of the most unusual school of all time, there a few things you need to know. Distance learning will end next Thursday, May 14th. This will allow students some time to turn in any late assignments and teachers some time to grade. The last official day of school is May 22nd.

During the last week, specifically May 19-21, our staff will be at the school handing out students’ personal belongings and collecting Chromebooks and library books. Your child’s or children’s teachers will make sure you have the schedule and the information you need but there is a schedule posted below too just keep in mind that may change and your teacher is the more reliable source.

Please note the following important information:

  • ALL Chromebooks must be turned in during this week. Please understand that you will be billed the full cost of your Chromebook if you do not return it to school during that week.
  • You may keep the HP Streams that were handed out earlier this year–we do not intend to collect those, they are yours.
  • Please bring back the school’s library books on this date and give to your classroom teacher.
  • Personal belongings that were left at school prior to Spring Break have been bagged up by your child’s teacher and will be distributed to you on the day your community is scheduled to return Chromebooks. Our Lost and Found Items will be available during that time too.
  • We hope to have class pictures to give you on that day as well, but they are still en route at this time.
  • We were not able to get yearbooks orders as the pandemic was ramping up just as we were supposed to do that and the company was shutting down and unable to print.
  • Please remember we must maintain physical distancing protocols including 6 feet apart from one another and the wearing of masks.
  • Please try to limit the number of family members who join you, but we would really love to see all of our students to say goodbye and give them a little treat!
  • At this time, we really don’t know what to expect for the start of next school year. I will continue to update our families and community through this blog. As soon as I know, I will share that information. If you haven’t already, you may want to subscribe to my blog using the button below in the lower right hand corner.

We miss you all sooooo much!! In my 31 years in education, I have never seen anything even close to what we are experiencing right now. We appreciate all you have done to continue your child’s education while at home and perservering through this difficult time. Hopefully, we will all be together again in August–fingers crossed!!

A Message from Molly Merry (Exploratory School Founder):   

Molly Merry - Colorado Springs, Colorado | Professional Profile ...

During this challenging time for all of us, I am so thankful for the many ‘heroes’ who help keep us safe and healthy. Some of those heroes are our teachers who have had to learn a whole new way of teaching to keep your children learning and growing. As usual, CES teachers faced this with dedication, creativity and the same caring they put into their classrooms. The Exploratory way of learning has always been about the world as every student’s classroom. This has never been more true and CES teachers have fulfilled that promise with limited time to prepare but maximum determination to make it successful. I hope every parent has a renewed appreciation for our teachers and the role they play in your child’s life. And I thank all parents who stepped up their role as partners in education. It hasn’t been easy, but your dedication is a significant message to your child about how you value their education and your belief in the importance of continuous learning.
When school resumes back in the building, please remember this experience that the walls do not make the school, it is the people who make the school. I know all CES staff will be so excited to be back in person with kids because the kids are the source of the passion that drives excellent teaching.

Schedule for last week pick up/drop off:

Your child’s teacher will have more details, please look for their communication to you in the coming days.

Tuesday, May 19–11:00-1:00: Wanderers—–>drive through in loop in front of building                                                              Rangers——->drive through in parking lot in front of the                                                             building

Tuesday, May 19–4:00-6:00: Trailblazers—–>drive through bus loop on North End

Wednesday, May 20–11:00-1:00: Voyagers-—–>drive through parking lot in front

Thursday, May 21–11:00-1:00: Scouts—–>drive through bus loop on North End

Thursday, May 21–4:00-6:00: Adventurers——>back area outside of classroom doors.


Thank you for reading! Until next time, 

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

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