Fabulous February Fun!–February 23, 2020

I just wish I could capture all of the great things that happen every single day at CES to include in this blog. The reality is that I would need to clone myself 50 times over to do that. Our district conducts annual Instructional Reviews.


The Instructional Review is part of our district’s evaluation process for each building. A team of 12 people from our district and community toured the building all day, Afterwards, our superintendent, Mr. George Welsh shared in his weekly blog, Echos and to our staff a communication about what they saw. I thought I would share part of it with you and perhaps this will illustrate more clearly what I mean. Here was the team’s main take-away:

  •  At every turn, we saw deep engagement by students, thanks to teachers performing at an expert level.
  • In every classroom, we met kids who can explain what they were learning, and why.
  • We witnessed teachers and kids approaching learning processes by utilizing high-level academic vocabulary. 
  • At every turn, the rigor of instruction was right on target.
  • The quality of instruction offered by paraprofessional support staff was incredible!
  • It is clearly evident CES’s focus on a culture of kindness is clearly taking hold.
  • Support for leadership at CES is at a level we have rarely seen in this district. 
  • From the time we entered to the time we left, we felt a positive energy. As Larry Oddo, one of our Compass Committee members said, “CES is a beacon for the community. We can easily invite everyone in because we would never be embarrassed by anything that is going on here.”
  • I was personally pleased by my observations of how many teachers are clearly taking ownership of the skills and traits we have pledged to develop in our students.
  • We witnessed technology being implemented at an expert level, enhancing CES’s multi-grade instruction and to support blended learning. 
  • We saw a commitment to expanding the depth and complexity of student learning.
  • CES even received high praise from Molly Merry, who said, “I am simply impressed by how this staff does not stand still. They continually strive to improve their implementation of the four pillars of the exploratory model; Multiple Intelligences, Choice Theory, Multi-Grade instruction, and Project-Based Learning.”

I am so proud of the work our staff, students, and families do each and every day to make CES the special place it is for living and learning!

100th Day of School Fun

I missed getting my blog out last week, so this is a bit late, but–the 100th day of school was celebrated here at CES Monday, the 10th. As you can see, our Scouts had lots of fun things to learn about that involved the number 100! IMG_1333Poor Mrs. Rivera–I think this job must be getting to her!



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PE Buddies!


We use our Big Buddies all over the building–even in PE!

Collaborative Conceptual Unit Work

Students in Mrs Veatch’s and Mr. Dieckman’s classes working collaboratively to compare and create food webs for each of Colorado’s eight Ecosystems. Next week students will be recreating the plants and animals for display on an interactive bulletin board where they will be learning about their adaptations.  Third and 4th graders will also have a presentation next week by Janelle Valladares from the US Forest Service about animal adaptations.

A Message from our Founder, Molly Merry:


When kids are making, crafting, building, or creating, they are using some vitally important thinking skills.  Those skills all connect to Multiple Intelligences, and the district’s focus on Traits and Skills.  CES students will be making visual representations of some of those Traits and Skills.  Making these representations is about so much more than drawing!  For most students, their introduction to Traits and Skills concepts is through vocabulary and definitions of terms which is very abstract and difficult to grasp.  By using a Multiple Intelligences approach and creating visual representations, students move into something much more concrete.  For example, lets consider the trait ‘tenacity’.  Most students would not know what tenacity means or tenaciousness.  But by helping students visualize sticking with the hard work it takes to complete something, not giving up, and building a sense of accomplishment, they can begin to visualize and share examples.  They can make illustrations that help not only their understanding, but strengthen everyone’s understandings as their share ideas.Maybe it is an explorer reaching the summit of a mountain, a person with a disability competing in the Special Olympics, an actor who goes to many auditions before getting a part, or a research scientist who continues to work to find a cure for a disease.  There are examples of people in history who have made a difference through their tenacity—Florence Nightingale, Harriet Tubman, John Glenn, Ernest Shackleton, and Jonas Salk, for example.  CES is committed to making sure students experience understandings through approaching complex ideas with concrete and connecting experiences.

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Gettin’ Crafty at CES–February 8, 2020

Family Craft Night

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We had a great time at our second Family Craft night this year. About 70 people of all ages came together to enjoy a Valentine themed night of painting canvases, crafting Valentine door hangers, and enjoying some punch and cookies. Thank you PTO for sponsoring these fun nights and a big shout out of appreciation for Katie France for organizing the event!

Crafting the Traits & Skills

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Throughout the building on Friday students were working on learning about our school district’s targeted Traits (knowledge, innovation, tenacity, agency, agility civility integrity) and Skills (collaboration, communication, solution-seeking, contribution, reflection, empowerment, leadership). Kids were learning what these mean, developing visual representations, and identifying actions of each. The Adventurers community is taking the approach of filtering the Traits and Skills through the lens of our Multiple Intelligences. They will eventually develop an art piece that will represent each.

Highlights from the 1st Semester Animoto:

Please enjoy a short Animoto featuring pictures of some of the highlights of the year so far.

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Kindness and Crafts–February 1, 2020

Last week I was unable to get my blog published due to technical difficulties. So, I’m a bit behind but…better late than never!

Kindness Continues…

The week before last, Mrs. Burrell had to be gone and her guest teacher was Mrs. Corinne O’Hara who happens to also be a parent in our building. She was aware of our Choose to Be Nice campaign and took the initiative to support this effort while she was subbing. I thought it was so cool that she took the opportunity to do this that I wanted to share it with you all.
At the start of their day, the students and Mrs. O’Hara brainstormed what kindness looks like and put those examples on the board. Then, they made sure to notice when they or their classmates were demonstrating these positive choices. Mrs. O’Hara took pictures and kept track and shared them with Mrs. Burrell in a collage.
Here are just a few of the things they accomplished that day that coorelate to the pictures above:
1. Eddie spontaneously did a dab when he saw his Quick Check Math score. Rowan helped him with some of the Math problems. Eddie wanted to give Rowan a chest bump for the picture.
2. Annakin asked if Arabella would like her seat when she came to the group.
3. Bryce took responsibility for a torn page of his book.
4. From our whiteboard discussion, Eddie presented his idea in front of the class for his anti bullying club. He was inspired by a YouTube video he saw prior to our discussion. He received much support from the class. We brainstormed many ideas about how the club would work…at recess, club members, how they would help, etc. At last recess, Eddie had identified the members of his club and Juan is planning on making the badges. I wrote a note to Mrs. Burrell.
Thanks Corinne for supporting Choice Theory, kindness, and being another positive role model to our students!

Another Fun Family Craft Night!

If you would like to join us this Thursday, please RSVP through the link below.

Go to this link to RSVP: SignUp Genius RSVP

“Gritty” kids

Now, more than ever, what Angela Lee Duckworth has to say is very important. Please take 6 minutes to watch the video below (you will have to click the link below the image).

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Grit: the power of passion and perseverance by Angela Lee Duckworth


Thanks for reading (and watching!)! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Great Work Happening at CES: January 18, 2020

A Message from Molly Merry

I have been so fortunate to have the opportunity this year to work with everyone at CES in supporting a healthy social and emotional school culture through Choice Theory.  Our goal has been to be intentional in deepening student understanding and practice in making choices that enhance their learning, their relationships, and their success.  Learning, of course, is not just about academic success. It is about the attitudes and habits of mind that build life-long, confident learners.  Making healthy choices is a critical part of that process.  I want to thank the students and the staff for including me in this process.  The Exploratory model has never been a static ‘program’.  It has always had solid roots in educational research while being a model for growth, flexibility, and responsiveness to the needs of learners and preparing them for the responsibilities and possibilities for their futures.  And finally, I am just so appreciative of how eager and positive the students at CES have been during my visits.  It is just so energizing and rewarding to work with your children!

STEM Presentation to the BOE

At last Monday’s School Board meeting, CES was well represented by students from Mrs. Bryan’s Food Truck STEM Scope class with projects that they completed last semester. They were required to plan a business venture by creating and planning a food truck operation complete with a to-scale food truck. They learned many “real world” math skills that included creating the scale truck and budgeting. They are also developed their skills and traits that included collaboration, communication, creation, innovation, contribution, and tenacity. The students all did a wonderful job presenting in front of the board showing off their public speaking skills too! Thank you Mrs. Bryan for this great class and encouraging your students to present!


Supporting Young People Online @ Harrison School

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Harrison Counseling Department is hosting a presentation on the topic of supporting young people online. This will be a two-part series of information by experts from our community. Presenters will be interactive and informative. Bring your questions!

Next year 4th through 12th-grade students will have Chromebooks. This presentation will be centered around internet safety and appropriate technology use. 

When: January 21st, 6:00 pm-7:30 pm

Free Popcorn! Concessions open! Pizza for a $1

Presenters will be from Family Crisis Services and local law enforcement. Harrison School is excited to host these experts in cyber safety! 

Youth Connections Grant

While most staff were off on Friday, we had a team of teachers and staff who were attending a convening with the Colorado Education Initiative with whom we are working with on a grant that will provide more resources for us to strengthen our school culture as is supports the Social Emotional well being of our students and staff. We are working with the other secondary schools in our district in what is a called the LEAP year. LEAP is an acronym for Learn, Experiment, Aspire and Plan. In a nutshell, we are planning this year to hopefully get the full grant that will be implemented over the following 3 years. Each member of our team plays a different role and I will share more with you more about this project in a later blog post but wanted to thank Jessi Hamilton, Shirlee Brule’, Carrie Hanenberg, Kaitlin Strong, and Erika Daly for joining me on Thursday and Friday and giving of their time.

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

A NICE Start of the Year~1/10/20

“Choose to Be Nice”: Spreading Kindness

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We have officially begun “Choose to Be Nice” (CTBN) focus for the second semester and beyond. As I was looking for a resource we could use that fit nicely with Choice Theory and would help us reinforce kindness, I came across a foundation called “Choose to Be Nice”. I looked into it and found that there was cost for the resources which I wasn’t in a place to purchase at the time. However, the founder of CTBN, Dina Crieger,  reached out to me. She was impressed with our school culture and was really interested in having CES be the first Colorado CTBN school so she “gifted” us the resource along with some materials that we could give to kids. Here is some information from their website to help you understand what our students will be doing:

We Believe:

We believe a better and nicer world is possible. Choose To Be Nice is committed to improving the way we interact with one another in our schools, on the playground, in the hallways and in the classrooms. Our Social/Emotional Learning school programs focus on nine values that are reinforced throughout the school year: respect, kindness, acceptance, teamwork, honesty, responsibility, friendship, patience and courage.  The positive effect of the CTBN school program extends from school to home and to the greater community as an impactful social movement.

We imagine a world where everyone slows down, pays more attention to their interactions with others and works to improve those interactions.

The Choose To Be Nice Promise:

“I promise to help spread kindness wherever and whenever possible. And to the very best of my ability, I’ll be nice to those with whom I come into contact on a daily basis.”

It’s as simple as that! Please join us in spreading kindness wherever you go! Also, check out the CTBN website: Choose To Be Nice

Parenting Corner: The Power of Unstructured Play


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Unstructured play has become an important part of a child’s future development, but some American kids aren’t getting enough according to experts. Unstructured play is defined as play without predetermined rules of the game, and is often made-up on the spot and changeable. Unstructured play has been shown to strengthen the connections of the neurons in the prefrontal cortex, teacher children to have positive interactions with others, helps them to be better students and can get kids moving. Unstructured play also allows children to learn collaboration, communication, and compromise skills when they are left to work out their conflicts with others, solution seek problems, and share. This type of play allows children’s creativity and imagination to develop as well.

Here are a few ways to encourage unstructured play, according to ahealthysliceoflife.com:

  • Go outside: Removing the walls gives kids a chance to stimulate their senses and evoke a sense of wonder and respect for the world around them.
  • Let them create: Keep a box of toilet paper rolls,yarn, glue, pine cones, tissue paper, etc., for you kids to create something new and exciting.
  • Get messy: Allow your kids to “cook” in the kitchen or dig through the dirt to find bugs and plants.
  • Don’t solve their problems: Have your kids brainstorm ideas to figuring out their real-life problems, like opening a tricky box or being able to reach something, or work out conflicts with friends

Some additional ideas from me :-):

  • Unplug: Set aside time where there is no access to TV, phones, or other devices.
  • Play board games or do jig saw puzzles: I know that’s kind of structured but playing board games and doing jig saws teaches so many great things!

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal


Celebrations of Learning at CES ~December 21, 2019

Last week I didn’t get my blog published due to my very busy schedule and my daughter graduating from college. We are such an active school and so much has happened these last couple of weeks that this is turning into a really long blog and I didn’t even capture pictures of all of the things that happened! However, I think it’s important to show you all as much as I can. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of Mrs. Veatch’s class’ Market Night, the Peppermint Palooza and the other Multiple Intelligence Holiday Celebrations, the Middle School Reindeer Games, and the many end-of-quarter presentations. I’m sure I’m still forgetting some other things that took place.  We are so fortunate to have such dedicated, passionate, and hard working teachers that make so many wonderful learning experiences happen for our students. We are also so fortunate to work in a school district that supports our unique Exploratory model. Thank you to our community too for supporting our work. Happy Holidays All!

An Exploration in Action: FAR Bike Park Project

Mason Lenard, a student in Mrs. Montoya’s class, is working on a project/Exploration to create a proposal for a Bike Park in Schepp Open Space. Here is an excerpt from the Daily Record that was published after he spoke in front of the FAR board:

Mason Lenard, a fifth-grade student at CES, also is working on the Cañon City Bike Park proposal as a school project.

“Some of the benefits of a bike park is that it gives you views and healthy outdoor habits, it gets kids into nature, and energy is put into positive activities instead of negative activities,” he said. “It also builds skill, confidence and strength and it serves as a gateway to lifelong healthy activities at low-cost participation.”

We just love when student Explorations extend beyond the four walls of the school building.

Elks Hoop Shoot

On Sat. Dec.14th, the top 3 placers from CES competed at the next round at the Canon City High School.  Students from area schools also competed for a chance at the Colorado State contest.  1st place finishers all advanced to that next State round. All Top 3 placed with Elks t-shirts and medals.

From CES, we had many top 3 placers: Madalyne Starika-Jolivet*, Khloe Weise( 2nd), Eric Chavez(2nd), Joe Slabaugh (3rd), Tristan Forsythe (2nd), Madyson Fowler (2nd), Alyssa Trout (3rd), Broxton Elliott (2nd) and Jace Cornwell (3rd). Maddie was our ONLY 1st place qualifier to continue to the state competition.

Congratulations to all our hoop shoot participants!  Good luck to Maddie at the State contest!!
And, thank you Mrs. Hanenberg for making this all happen for our students!

Performing Arts Concert

Students in 5th-8th grade who participate in our Performing Arts program presented a Winter Concert that included the 5th/6th band under the direction of Mr. Nolan, the 7th/8th band, Middle School Choir, and Piano/Guitar class students all under the direction of Ms. Janitell. We even had member of our band who participated in the Christmas Parade give us a taste of what they learned about marching band under the direction of Drum Major, Chelsey Smith. Thank you Ms. Janitell for creating a fun and meaningful performing arts experience for our kids!

Christmas Around the World (Voyagers)

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As a culminating product of their quarter long MI Unit, the Voyagers presented an evening of Christmas Around the World. Students shared information they learned about the country they studied that included Holiday traditions, music, and trivia. They ended the evening having a meal together that consisted of food traditionally served in the different countries.

Shop with a Tiger

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Thursday Night some our students got to go to the High School and head off on a trip to Walmart to shop with a Tiger. Each of the kids were paired up with a high school student who assisted them in making their purchases but more importantly made meaningful connections the each of them. When possible they are paired with an alum from their school. We were fortunate to have Stella Hartman, Zach Strickler, and Taylor Hopson who all attended CES through Middle School join our students. The Tiger Pride organization under the leadership of Kevin Marushack and Shane Thorton make this wonderful event possible. The Pride is doing a lot of good work. I encourage you to support their cause.

DaVinci Exploratorium (Adventurers)

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This quarter the Adventurers’ MI Mash was devoted to DaVinci. Bigs and Littles worked together to learn about the life, art, and innovation of Leonardo DaVinci. They went on to create a blueprint, develop a prototype, and build or create a piece that was inspired by DaVinci. All of this was presented in an excellent showcase night called the DaVinci Exploratorium which was highly attended with over 125 people coming to take in all of the hard work of these students guided by their teachers.

Holiday Spirit Week Fun!

We had a lot of fun this week with our Student Council sponsored Holiday Spirit Week. Monday was Holiday sock day, Tuesday was Who Day, Wednesday was Twin Day, Thursday was Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, and Friday was our favorite–PJ and stuffed animal day. One of my favorite things about the week before break is walking the halls and seeing the kids so excited about what they wore or brought on these days and to hear them randomly singing Christmas carols as they go about their business. Such Joy!

Kindness Campaign

As you may know, the high school Link Crew/Pride have taken begun a Kindness Campaign with the goal of spreading kindness throughout the high school, the district, and our community. They have developed some products and other visuals to promote and remind us to be kind to one another. One of those things is wristbands that can be worn to show support. This last week, I purchased a green wristband for each of our students as a little Christmas gift with the hope they will each wear them and be reminded to act kindly. On one side of the band it says, “Be the ‘I’ in Kind” and on the other it says “CES Cares”. Stella Hartman, a CES alum, joined me in handing these out explaining to each class what she is doing at the high school and what they have to look forward to there. This well spoken, kind-hearted, and smart young woman is amazing and we are so proud of her!


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In yet another effort that involves our high school, several of our students participated in the SELF Expo this last Monday. The SELF (Student Empowered Learning Framework) Expo is an event that features the culminating products of high school student’s projects they do as part of PBL and Capstone. We were invited to feature some of our kids since our model feeds into the work they are now doing at CCHS. We were represented by Lorelei VanIwarden who shared her historical figure timeline project, Peyton Veatch, Koda Matthews, and Braddyn Meuller who presented their Market Night project, and Conor Foster who presented his Medival Knight armor project. Not only was this a great experience for them and a chance for CES to feature what we do outside of our school, it was exciting to the see the work of our former CES students who are now in high school. I talked to several of them who told me how much their years at CES prepared them for what they are now doing.

Defined STEM Food Truck Project

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Middle School students have spent the entire semester researching food trucks, creating a 60 mile map of where they would take their truck, designing a logo, creating a menu and completing a spreadsheet of expenses while taking into account what it would cost to hire an employee. Students learned how to use functions within Google Sheets to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Students researched business strategies, discussed food options and prices all while working in teams. The course culminated with students building scale models of a food truck. ~Mrs. Bryan, CES Technology Teacher

CCHS Christmas Choir Tour

One of the highlights of the year for all of us is when my husband’s choirs visit the schools presenting their Christmas tour show. It is jam-packed with music from the entire first semester and always a favorite of kids and adults alike. It’s also fun that so many of his former students make an effort to visit one of the schools on tour to see the show that they also loved being a part of. If you get a chance next year, you should come too!

Wishing you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

Thank you for supporting CES!

Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Creating and Crafting at CES~December 6, 2019

Once December hits we are in a whirlwind of holiday activities and end-of-the-quarter events. If you are a parent in our CES family, to stay informed make sure you are checking on folders coming home with your kids, reading newsletters, and if you haven’t already, sign up for the All School Remind and/or your classroom teacher’s Remind. To sign up for the All-School Remind all you have to do is text @979fc6 to 81010. You don’t have to download the app to receive the texts. To sign up for your classroom teacher’s Remind, just contact them and they can give you instructions.

DaVinci Inspired Creations


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The Adventurers are in the middle of a big Community Multiple Intelligences Exploration that is inspired by DaVinci. Students have conducted research, drawn up blueprint, created prototypes, and are putting together their culminating products that may or may not include the use of power tools! Their exhibit will be open to the public on December 19th. Almost all of our communities will have some sort of showcase or exhibit that week beginning Dec. 16th.  Look for more information coming soon. Also, consider coming to visit us on Thursdays or Fridays to see our students doing all of this project based blended learning. We love to show off!

Students as Teachers

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During three consecutive Early Release Fridays, PE & Health classes learned about the human bones we all have in our bodies.  Mr. Bones of course was a big part of the lesson, however an added feature this year came from our Middle School students; Caitlyn & Chelsea shared their Exploration on the bones from the first quarter. Students in PE & Health loved hearing their version of the bones of the body.  The girls came back to present to almost all of the classes.  The meaning “Together we Make a Difference” really was true for this experience. Having our Middle school friends to model their explorations and educate our elementary students  was invaluable! THANK YOU GIRLS!

~Mrs. Hanenberg, PE teacher

Christmas Craft Night


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We had a very successful and fun family craft night sponsored by our PTO. About 75 moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, and kids came and enjoyed making some Christmas Crafts, as well as cookies and hot cocoa. It was so fun to watch everyone’s creativity in action and to hear all of the laughter and conversation. This was such a great way for our CES family to come together!  A big thank you our PTO and  especially to Ann Olson, Katie Francis, and Corinne O’Hara for putting this event together and leading the evening. We all had such a good time that there are already plans in the works for another craft night in the near future. If you didn’t make this one, please try to come next time!

All School Christmas Carol Sing-a-long


We are really getting into the holiday season with not just Christmas Crafts but Christmas carols too. The whole school got involved singing medleys of songs they learned in music class with Miss Janitell. Some of the classes added instruments and movement. We are looking forward to much more Christmas music and events in the next two weeks!

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

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