It’s been a super may!~may 14, 2021

Even though it’s still an unusual year, we have tried to do as many of our normal things as possible. Next week will be the last week of school and we do have some field trips, presentations, and Field Day scheduled. So far this May we’ve been able to witness students’ demonstrations of learning through project presentations, Buddy Time, and end-of-unit activities. We are hoping that we have no more quarantined classes (and staff/students) and can finish the year strong and have fun together. We are making memories, that’s for sure!

Our Teachers Really ARE Superheroes!

As part of our Spirit Run Fundraiser, students were challenged to raise money with a few incentives besides prizes. One was if they raised $5000, the principals would dress in costume, but if they raised $10,000, the entire staff would dress as superheroes. As you can see by the slide show above, they raised the $10k and even more. We had fun during this Teacher Appreciation Week dressing as Superheroes on Monday.

Pie-in-the-Face Day!

Another part of fundraiser that we enjoyed (well, the kids did anyway) was our annual pie-in-the-face event. Students were able to throw one pie at a teacher or principal of their choice for each $100 they raised. This year we had to do it outside since we are still not able to have all-school assemblies. Boy, was it hot! And, wow, whipped cream goes sour real quick in the heat. I think the teachers told their kids to make sure to pie me since I’m retiring. I lost count at the number of pies smashed into my face!

Middle School Sports

Middle School Careers Projects

The 7th and 8th graders have been busy researching and learning about potential career choices. They then presented to one another which also taught them much about presentation skills, being a good audience, giving and receiving feedback, and much more. They did a great job!

Kindergarten Buddy Day

It’s that time of year when we get to begin welcoming our new Explorers to CES. Most of the 2021-2022 Scouts and their parents came this last week to learn all about CES, meet their teachers, and learn a bit about what it means to be in school. It was exciting to get to see this year’s kindergartner’s be big buddies to next year’s kinders! They’ve really grown up!

Summer Reading Program at the Public Library

Thanks for Reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Warmer Weather=more learning & fun~April 9, 2021

The weather is warmer and the days are longer which is leading to an increase in energy and activity here at school. We are still under COVID restrictions (although they are lightening up a bit) but are beginning to see some of the normal spring activities happening. After not even having a 4th quarter in person last year, it almost feels foreign but is still wonderful to see kids participating and feeling kind of normal. We are hopeful that by the end of the year, we will even be able to invite parents to some of these events!

Spring Middle School Football

We are so glad to see some our middle school students take advantage of participating in sports at CCMS. Yes, we are Explorers but we are Falcons too! We have four students on the team: Braden, Payton, Dustin, Jamison. They have done very well so far winning two games recently. Good job boys!

Thank you parents for going the extra mile (no pun intended) to get your kids to practices. Next year we hope to have district provided transportation and even more of our 6th-8th graders participate in middle school sports! If you have any questions about middle school sports, please contact our Athletic Director/PE teacher, Mrs. Carrie Hanenberg.

More FUNdraising running

We had more classes participating in our Spirit Run and extreme Green and Gold day. Take a look at all of these fun pictures that Mrs. Hanenberg took for us. We still have one more day of running but the fundraising ended April 1st. We are thrilled to report that our students raised over $15,000!! So, yes, in the very near future you will see principals and teachers dressed as superheroes and lots of pies will be thrown in our faces! Thank you to everyone who has supported our kids!

Reading Boost

This week we started an after school program called Reading Boost that provides some extra academic support to targeted students to provide a boost after our COVID shutdown and quarantine disruptions which has led to possible learning loss. The funds for this program come from the federal money that has been provided to school districts in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic. Teachers from our building and other buildings in Canon City Schools are leading the sessions. This program will run for the month of April after school until 4:30.

Rockin’ it in Kindergarten

Diane Rivera’s class has been working on a unit about rocks. They read Roxaboxen (a book about kis making a town out of rocks and other things found in the dessert) and created their own town. They had to make a plan, work in teams, and use only the items available in the barren field. They also had to share their creations with the class. They make houses, a grocery store and a fort. On another day, they read what a rock can be and decided rocks can be pets! so they wrote about pet rocks and created their own. They also used starburst candies to make the three types of rocks they learned about. I think Mrs. Rivera and her little Scouts rock!

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

CES is looking forward to a fun 4th quarter~March 27, 2021

Making progress on the COVID Front

Mr. Dieckman takes temperatures on the first day of school.
  • Parents probably noticed that as of last Monday March 22nd), we began to no longer have to take the temperatures of students, visitors, or staff upon arriving to school. We do ask that parents pre-screen their children before bringing them to school.
    • Please keep your child home if they have any ONE of these symptoms:
      • Loss of smell/taste
      • fever/chills 100.4 or greater
      • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
      • vomiting
      • diarrhea
    • Please keep your child home if they have more than one of these symptoms:
      • sore throat
      • runny nose
      • congestion
      • muscle aches
      • headache
      • fatigue
      • nausea

In addition to suspending the taking of temperatures, we have also been able to expand our cohort into communities which allows us to have Buddies again, run Kinder math groups (see pics below), and play together at recess.

However, in spite of the progress and hope we are seeing in our community and schools, we are wading slowly into the water rather than jumping in with both feet. Just this last week we had to quarantine one of our classes due to a positive COVID case exposure. We are still being careful, wearing masks, and following restrictions. Our biggest hope is that we will finish the year the way we started and have remained thus far: in person!

Spirit Lap FUNdraiser

Our annual Spirit Lap fundraiser has begun. This year we have had to conduct this event differently due to COVID restrictions. Students have been collecting donations and will be able to continue to do so until April 1st. They then participate in the run during their PE class for 45 minutes. On the day that they run, we are encouraging them to show their school spirit by wearing extreme green and gold. As you can see Mrs. Veatch’s class and Mrs. Saffold’s class really turned it out this last week–the class that shows the most school spirit will earn a donut party. All other classes will be running in the coming weeks, and I will make sure to share pictures here in this blog. Every child who raises at least $100 gets to throw a pie in the face of a teacher. The class that raises the most money will receive a pizza party, the top 3 money earners for for the school will get $50 in cash! If the whole school can raise at least $5000, Mrs. Hamilton and I will dress in costume, and if $10,000 is earned the entire staff will dress as superheroes! The money raised in our fundraiser goes towards our field trips, improved technology, and school improvements.

City Market Community Rewards to help CES

City Market Community Rewards

Do you shop at City Market? If so, here’s an easy way to help out CES–Kroger Community Rewards. All you have to do is use your City Market card, but first you need to link CES to it. Here’s a link with instructions but they will also help you at the customer service desk (thanks in advance!):

Cooking Up Some Science

In middle school Science, Ms. Heifner has engaged students to learn Science (and Math) concepts through cooking. They culminated with a cooking competition where they had to prepare a meal that included a mystery ingredient which was an herb they had grown. Fortunately for me, they needed judges and was not only happy to oblige but very impressed with their skill and thoughtfulness in preparing their dishes.

Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

A Message from Molly Merry (our school’s founder:

Dr. William Glasser: Choice Theory by Anna Mangum

Choice Theory & School Culture

Most of us remember school as a place of rules, rules that were imposed by adults and consequences for breaking those rules. The Exploratory School model looked to move away from rules (except for those concerning safety) to create a school culture that would promote self-knowledge, personal responsibility, decision making, problem solving, and collaboration—all essential skills in life. Choice Theory promotes students developing self-respect from the inside rather than self-esteem which comes from the praise of others. This builds a strong sense of confidence and resilience!
So…at CES, everyone practices Choice Theory, not just about good behavior choices, but in making choices to be engaged in learning, to be respectful toward others, to recognize problems and be active in finding solutions.
A Choice Theory school culture (CES) is all about preparing students not just for day to day behavior or for the next grade next teacher, it is about preparing them to be conscientious, healthy human beings who appreciate their capacity to learn.

For teachers and staff Choice Theory is about

*making instructional decisions that meet the needs of students over curriculum

* working in collaboration with students to develop problem solving skills and effective communication

* making choices of how time is best used to nurture students where they are to move them forward and to help them appreciate their uniqueness and their contributions

*ensuring that students hang on to their natural love of learning and go home feeling success every day

*seeing the big picture and focusing on the larger concepts that create meaning in learning

*knowing how children learn before they focus on what children learn

For students Choice Theory is about

*building self-knowledge, knowing strengths an weaknesses and a willingness to make improvements

*building relationships through an understanding of and appreciation for individual differences

*developing an independent work ethic—even for work that is not their favorite

*developing effective communication skills with diverse audiences

*understanding their Basic Needs and how to meet those needs in healthy ways

*contributing to a school environment that is safe, comfortable, and effective*owning choices and working to make improvements

For parents Choice Theory is about

*setting developmentally appropriate boundaries for choices
*recognizing the importance of children owning their choices

*supporting children in understanding cause and effect

*discussing choice options and possible consequences*offering more opportunities to make choices

*modeling the thinking processes involved in making choices

*not rescuing children from uncomfortable consequences

*recognizing that the younger a child is when they learn to make choices the easier it is

*helping children learn that life is not always about being happy

*making your child’s life too easy makes it much more difficult for them later on

Read Across America Week

Spring Spirit Lap Fundraiser

If you are a parent at CES you have received information about our Spring Fundraiser. We have done a Spirit Lap for quite a few years now and it is one of our most successful fundraisers. This year, of course, we have to do things a little different than we usually do and we are sorry to say that parents will not be able to join us for the event at school. We are grateful to Mrs. Hanenberg who is graciously giving up a lot of her gym class time to allow the individual classes to participate in the Spirit Lap rather than all of us doing this in the course of one day. The nice thing about this fundraiser is that 100% of the proceeds go to help our school and you don’t have to worry about selling things. This money helps us do a wide range of things that make CES a special place to learn. It will help pay for field trips (when we get to start having those again), instructional materials, technology, and school improvements. Donation envelopes went home Friday, March 5th and money is due no later than Thursday April 1st to be considered for prizes. We thank you in advance for your help and support with the fundraiser!

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

It’s been awhile!~February 20, 2021

It’s been a while since I published my last blog post. This year has been unusual in many ways and for some reason it’s been hard for me to capture moments of what our Explorers are doing to share with you all compared to normal times. I think one reason for that is that we are just so busy working really hard to make sure we are making up for the lost time we had during our fourth quarter of last year. I am hopeful that things will begin to look up and COVID numbers will continue to trend down. Now that our county is blue on the COVID dial, we are able to lighten up some our restrictions here at school too. Beginning Monday, we will be able to expand some of our cohorts out into our communities. This means that the kids in each community (Scouts, Rangers, Wanderers, Voyagers, and Adventurers) will be able to be together again–within their community–and not stay isolated to the classrooms. Each community will take a bit of a different approach but, none of us will be jumping in feet first for the full plunge. This will be more of wading into the water experience to make sure everyone feels comfortable and take time to make sure we are continuing in a positive direction. However, even though we will be able to expand our cohorts, we will still not be able to invite parents and volunteers into the building, masks will still be worn by 5th graders on up and all adults, and evening events will not take place. Hopefully, by the end of the year, CES will look more normal with field trips, buddy work, Exploration presentations, and events. I might be too optimistic here but I’m a glass half full kind of person, so…fingers crossed!

Little Scientists

Students in Mrs. Foster’s 1st/2nd grade class learned about the Scientific Process in class and then demonstrated their learning by each completing their own Science Experiment. They then presented their projects to their class and really seemed to enjoy showing off what they learned.

100th Day of School

Can you believe that we are past the 100th day of school? To celebrate, Mrs. Rivera’s kindergartners dressed at 100 year old people last week. They grow up so fast!

Our Amazing Librarian, Ms. Rogers

I just wanted to give a shout out to our amazing librarian Ms. Katie Rogers. She was so bummed that we would not be able to use the library in the regular way due to COVID but she has adapted so well. One of the things that Ms. Rogers has done is to create themed library carts full of books that get delivered to elementary classrooms for kids to check out. She cutely decorates them to increase student interest and it has worked. Ms. Rogers has also provided some interactive displays in her library that kids can see when they come to check out books. We miss the buzz of activity that used to take place in there but so appreciate what Ms. Rogers has done to create a space that welcoming and encourages kids to read!

Pretty smart SMARTS!

Mrs. Bryan made these really cool Explorer shirts for our SMARTS teachers. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderfully talented and high quality teachers at CES–and look pretty good too!

Choice Theory Corner

We have missed getting to have our parent education nights, so I thought I would take the opportunity to use the blog to provide some of the information you would get at those events. We are going to start with Choice Theory. Choice Theory is the the way we live at CES. It looks pretty much the same at school as it can at home but there are few differences. Over the next few weeks, I will share some pertinent components of Choice Theory. Let’s begin with the Basic Needs. This is taken from another blog by Family Matters called Practical Parenting:

Dr. William Glasser is an American psychiatrist who developed the Reality Theory, which later on became known as the Choice Theory. In the seventies, Glasser’s work was not highly accepted by his colleagues.

While others thought that human behavior is affected by external sources, Glasser believed in personal choice, personal responsibility, and personal transformation. While others considered certain behaviors as mental disorders and prescribed medication for these, Glasser believed in the education and empowerment of his clients to change their choices.

He applied his theories on education, management, and marriage.

The Choice Theory states that a person’s behavior is inspired by what that person wants or needs at that particular time, not an outside stimulus. Glasser thought all living creatures control their behavior to fulfill their need for satisfaction in one or more of these five areas:

  1. Need for survival
  2. Need to belong and be loved by others
  3. Need for power and importance
  4. Need for freedom and independence
  5. Need to have fun

As you can see, those are not desires. Rather, they are needs. A need is a strong desire we can’t live without. It is not a preference. It is not a want (many times it is subconscious and we are not even aware of it). It is something that is so strong that it functions as a prerequisite for our emotional functions.

Based on Glasser, every person has the power to change their lives based on the choices they make.

A Guide to a Happy Life

Based on Glasser, any person can make good choices by taking responsibility for their actions. He came up with a list of 4 questions that can be a guide to a happy life:

  1. What do you want?
  2. What are you doing to achieve what you want?
  3. Is it working?
  4. What are your plans or options?
The power to choose. At anytime you can, choose to alter the direction of your life

The 5 Needs of Choice Theory

  1. The need to survive. I make sure they know it is not a test and not a threat. They have lots of certainty as I explain that we are going to play games. They know when we will finish. If they want, mum/dad can stay around. Fear is a huge block. I make sure they are not under any threat.
  2. The need to belong and be loved by others. I touch the kids I work with. I highlight their parents’ love and care for them and that this is the reason they brought them to see me.
  3. The need to have power and importance. I share with them my search for their uniqueness. I allow them to choose activities to give them a sense of control. I ask them what they want and what they think.  There is so much to learn from answering these questions.
  4. The need for freedom and independence. When I give them an activity, I give them time and do not push them. Again, I give them choices and tell them they can do the activity any way they like.
  5. The need to have fun. Games were always the best learning tool!

Thanks for reading! Until next time (hopefully sooner than last!),

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

STARTing the Year Off Right!~January 8, 2021

Little Scouts but Big Ideas!

Mrs. Rivera’s kindergarten class read a book about a koala who needed support and encouragement from his friends. Afterwards, they did a collaboration project using their Art Smart. The heart in the middle of the tracing of their hands represents caring habits that we bring to our relationships. The hands represent Together We Make a Difference and also that there is no “I” in team. Each student was able to design their own puzzle piece to represent their uniqueness. Then they had to collaborate on the design and what they wanted on the door. They had to talk out issues and had to decide what order each piece went into. Not only did they work on elements of Choice Theory while using their Multiple Intelligences and Social Emotional Learning, they also worked on our district’s Traits and Skills of Communication, Collaboration, Civility, Contribution, and Leadership. Good work Scouts!!

Figuring out how to Buddy

We are sure missing our Buddy Time. Some of our teachers have been innovative in finding ways to maintain this important part of our culture. Among them, Mrs. Rivera and Mrs. Saffold have been having their buddies meet through Google Hangout but when it came time to practice presenting their projects, they were faced with a new challenge. It was difficult to hear each other. So Mrs. Rivera and Mrs. Saffold decided to take them outside and have them stand 6 feet apart so the the big buddies could see how the little buddies were standing and presenting so they could coach them. It worked out great!

Teachers Learn Too

Our Early Release Fridays are not just time off for teachers and staff. We get a lot of learning, preparation, and collaboration done during these times. The beginning of the school year and the beginning of a new year are times when we at CES work on our school culture. This is important not just for the kids but for our staff too. We take advantage of the expertise and wisdom of Molly Merry (our school founder) whenever we can so this last Friday, Molly provided a little Choice Theory reboot for our staff. We were able to discuss how our model is impacted by the pandemic and how we incorporate the Traits and Skills into Choice Theory and Exploratory Learning. Hopefully, it served as a good refresher for everyone as we head into this second half of the year.

Thanks for reading! Until next time…

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Gettin’ in the Spirit!~December 18,2020

Holiday Spirit Week Fun!

Even with COVID, we are trying to keep some things normal, so we had fun with our traditional Holiday Spirit Week sponsored by our Student Council. It was fun to see all of the creative and fun ways students fixed their hair, became a holiday twin, and wore their best ugly sweater and mask. And, of course, we always love wearing our PJ’s to school!

Just as a reminder, we do still have school on Monday and Tuesday. Then, we will be on break until January 6th, 2021.

Happy Holidays!!

No Dogs Allowed 😦

Photo by Charles on

We love dogs, but we are not allowed to have them on campus. This is a school district policy that stems from issues that have happened in the past with dogs becoming aggressive at school events or on school grounds. Please understand that when a staff member approaches you to tell you that you must put your dog in the car, they are just doing their job as we work to keep everyone safe and enforce the district’s expectations.

Middle School Sports

We are still hopeful that our middle school students can participate in Spring sports. This is ONLY available to our 7th and 8th grade students.  Unfortunately, there is no 6th grade sports this year. Parents will need to get their child a sports physical and register at CCMS office the week prior to each sport.  At this time we do not know the cost/fees due to the shorter season. MS students can pick up paperwork for sports physicals and yellow emergency cards in Mrs. Hanenberg’s office and she also has the schedule. The sports that are being offered are boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling, football, volleyball, and track. TENTATIVE dates are as follows:

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Boys Basketball=1/25-2/19

Girls Basketball=2/22-3/26





Thanks for reading! I hope you stay safe and healthy and have aMerry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

~Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

Staying Focused while we explore~December 5, 2020

Amplifying Instruction

Teaching all day long is difficult on teachers’ voices even when they are not having to do so through a mask. Not only can it be exhausting and challenging for the teacher, it’s also difficult for students to hear clearly. As the former Health Tech of our school, Della Rieger of Home Smart Preferred Reality has a heart for our staff and students and after hearing about this dilemma, she wanted to help out. As a result of her very generous donation, we were able to purchase one personal amplification device for each of our teachers. They love them!! Research actually supports that when teachers use a microphone to teach with reduces staff absence due to illness and increases student achievement; plus our teachers leave with so much more energy now. Thank you Della!

Focus on Traits and Skills

Our school district has adopted a series of Traits and Skills that are a framework of self-empowered learning. Our hope for all of you is that you will or do take charge of your own education–that your learning is more kid driven than adult driven. Over the next few weeks, we are going to focus on these Traits and Skills in our classrooms. We have posters displayed in each room and teachers will find ways of tying in the Traits and Skills to their daily lessons and activities.

If you’ve been to the high school in the last year, you would have seen these Traits and Skills on big banners hanging out on the front of the building. A trait is a quality of or a characteristic of your personal nature. It is something that becomes a part of you or who you are. A Skill is something you learn over time. It is the ability to something well.

We are going to start this week with the Trait of Civility and the Skill of Collaboration.

Civility means that we value our personal identity and beliefs while still honoring those others. The word civil comes from the word citizen. So often civility refers to being polite, kind, and doing good for others and for your community. Collaboration is when we work well with others, assuming our shared responsibility and valuing the contributions of those we work with. When we collaborate with others we usually do so to create or produce something.

Recently, I had the opportunity to see one of our classes using the skill of Collaboration to work in their Book Clubs. In prior blog posts, I’ve discussed our use of Depth and Complexity. Mrs. Strong is one of our teacher trainers for Depth and Complexity and uses it masterfully in her classroom instruction. The kids first used their Depth and Complexity Icons to discuss what Collaboration meant. Then they used those skills to work together to create visual mock up of a scenario they randomly drew from a deck of cards. Later they applied their learning in their Book Club discussion groups.

Thank you for reading! Until next time,

Kelly Albrecht, CES Principal

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, then the Parent tab. You can also find it by clicking this link:

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

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