School News

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This document is has important infomation to help keep all our student safe. 

    Littlest Rangers Program Launches for Pre-Schoolers

    posted Dec 16, 2016, 7:38 AM by   [ updated Dec 16, 2016, 7:41 AM ]



    MPEC launches outdoors program for preschoolers



    In this age, the extent of a youngster’s world may be determined by the size of the video screen he or she is looking at — or the cellphone being used.

    Staffers at the Mountain Park Environmental Center in Beulah are seeking to change that culture.

    They want kids to pull out the earbuds. Hang up the cellphone. Turn off the TV.

    And reconnect with the great outdoors.

    While it may be difficult to break today’s teens of their plugged-in habits, younger children may be more receptive to the idea.

    With that in mind, MPEC — in conjunction with Pueblo City Schools (D60), Health Solutions and Catholic Charities — has begun a program to encourage preschoolers to engage in more outdoor activities.

    The program, launched in October, is called the Forest School for Little Rangers. This year there are 27 classes, each with a maximum of 16 children participating. Each of those classes will meet at MPEC five times during the school for a morning of activities. The whole goal is to get the youngsters outside and teach them a little bit about nature.

    The program was created by MPEC founder Dave Van Manen, who patterned it loosely after programs that were first started in Europe decades ago and then spread to the eastern part of the United States.

    Van Manen for years has preached the benefits of spending time outside.

    “We’ve been serving Pueblo fifth-graders for two decades,” Van Manen said. “I’ve been doing this little nature toddlers program for 10 years.”

    Van Manen would meet with youngsters and their parents or grandparents once a month, and enjoyed the experience.

    “I’ve wanted to do something more comprehensive,” Van Manen said. “I’ve wanted to develop a program that reached more kids.”

    It wasn’t until he received a call from local teacher Tammy Montoya, who was looking for more ways to get her students outside time, that he began to focus on the Little Rangers program.

    Fresh air

    The benefits of being outside may be anecdotal, but, Van Manen said, “there is a lot of information creating data that says it is good.”

    “The things (outside play) does to brain development and sensory stimulation is really, really good for them,” Van Manen said. “They say you learn 90 percent of what you learn by the time you are 5 years old. So this is important.”

    Kids don’t need to go on elaborate hikes or other programs, Van Manen said. “They benefit just by being outside.”

    Wired lifestyles

    Van Manen said it has never been more important than it is today to get our children outside.

    “Research says it is not good physiologically for young brains who spend time in front of monitors and screens,” Van Manen said. “Every hour or two they spend in front of a screen is an hour or two they aren’t outside doing something like taking a walk.”

    The Little Rangers program also includes sessions for parents, supervised by individuals from Catholic Charities and Health Solutions.

    “We encourage them to unplug the kids some and get them away from electronics,” Van Manen said. “We’ve had a couple of generations now that are being brought up with so much electronic access.”

    Others on board

    The Little Foresters program is being partially underwritten by the local chapter of the United Way.

    Pueblo City Schools (D60) has been a willing participant, Van Manen said.

    The outdoor sessions have shown a benefit in helping youngsters and parents deal with adverse childhood experiences, Van Manen said.

    The more adverse experiences a person has as a child, the greater chance they will grow up and have liver disease, smoking, diabetes, etc., according to studies by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control.

    Youngsters with high ACE scores often end up costing the community as a whole. One way to combat that is by spending time in nature, Van Manen said.

    “Getting them outside and challenging them away from their normal social structure has proven to be a good therapy,” Van Manen said.

    Program strategy

    The sessions begin around 10 a.m. when the children and their parents arrive at MPEC.

    “We do an opening circle, song or two for about an hour,” Van Manen said. “Parents do an activity with the kids. These kids are 2, 3, 4 or 5 years old so we give them a sheet of photographs of things to find, like pine cones, acorns.

    “We come back, look at them, talk about what they are.”

    Van Manen said this part is important because it promotes language development.

    The children are read a book and treated to a snack. At this time, the parents go in for a class.

    Other activities include arts and crafts programs and yoga.

    The kids and the parents get back together and finish up whatever craft the children are working on. The group takes a short day hike, eats lunch and goes home for the day.

    “It’s about a three-hour session,” Van Manen said. Most of it is held outside although there is space available inside for cold days. Classes are held Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    Chilly, but fun

    About a half dozen youngsters from the Sunset Elemetary preschool program, each accompanied by a parent, as well as Sunset staffers Rachel Cory and Kelsie Housman, showed up for a recent session.

    Their presence was a brave thing. It was snowy and 13 degrees at MPEC. But the group was undaunted.

    About the only concessions instructors Sheila Cover-Rydell and Deb Wellen made to the weather was a hot chocolate break and a fire in the fire pit.

    The kids learned about mammals during the daily lesson, then took a hike during which they spotted several animal tracks and just had fun walking and exploring in the show.

    After a brief break for hot chocolate, it was back outside for the kids while the parents broke away for a session with Patrick Hatchett from Catholic Charities, who did a giveand- take presentation about different parenting skills.

    Once reunited, the group did a craft project, turning pine cones, pine branches and string into a garland, before eating lunch and heading home.

    The kids were active and interested. The parents were engaged in their session.

    The Sunset staffers who attended were enthusiastic about the program.

    “This is going to help these kids a lot,” Cory said. “Hopefully, it will introduce the kids to being outside.”

    Cory said she hopes the kids take that enthusiasm home and it encourages their parents to do more with them outdoors.

    “It gets them outside, which will help them in a lot of ways, from learning skills to motor skills,” Cory said.

    Sunset Park Hour of Code- In the News

    posted Dec 7, 2016, 1:01 PM by   [ updated Dec 7, 2016, 1:03 PM ]

    Sunset Park's participation in the hour of code made the news yesterday! Please see the enclosed article! Thanks to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers for encouraging our students to learn to code and opening up your classrooms for this amazing opportunity! 


    Cracking the 'Code’ 



    Some call it the largest learning event in history.

    A sea of students holding laptop computers at Sunset Park Elementary School filled a fifth-grade classroom Tuesday prepping for the Hour of Code, a global movement reaching tens of millions of students in more than 180 countries.

    The program started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code,” to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science.

    The Hour of Code took place Tuesday during Computer Science Education Week, Mondaythrough Sunday.

    Paula Herraez, Pueblo City Schools (D60) 21st Century Skills coach, said it helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. “We are really excited to move ahead in technology and really provide these opportunities for our kids because really, this is the future. We just want to plant the seeds for future careers in technology,” Herraez said.

    She said by starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path.

    Students were programming in order to learn logical sequencing, problem solving and critical thinking.

    Sunset Park Principal John Hull said the program would not work at the school had it not been for the school’s Parent Teacher Community Association booster club.

    “We had two (computer) labs from the district and now we have five more because of our booster club. That makes this possible. They’ve been working hard so these kids have these opportunities.”

    Third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students also were participating in a number of coding activities that allowed them to work on several different and popular video games. Herraez said other schools in the district also have worked in the program.

    “It has a pretty good following. This is our third year of doing it. We want to build momentum,” Herraez said.

    The district has contracted with Summit Education Group to help run the program and show students the field of coding.

    Anne Maldonado, vice president of Summit’s business services, said 524,000 jobs in the United States a year are computer science driven.

    “Only 14,000 students who graduate in the U.S. go on to those 524,000 jobs, so it is a huge need,” Maldonado said.

    “We are pushing ensuring that students across the U.S. are getting involved in computer science because by the year 2020, that will double.”

    Maldonado said the state of Colorado is one of only 14 states that allows computer science credit in high School.

    “Those students typically go on to college and earn a job in computer science. With technology right now the trend is computer science jobs across the country,” she said.

    “Right now the student in elementary school is more advanced in technology than any of us were 20 years ago. In order to keep up in education, you’ve got to be focused on technology.”

    Holiday Spirit Days

    posted Dec 7, 2016, 6:56 AM by   [ updated Dec 7, 2016, 1:01 PM ]

    Join us next week December 12th-16th in spreading holiday cheer! 

    Merry Monday: Santa or elf hat day
    Tis the Season Tuesday: Ugly Sweater day
    Winter Wonderland Wednesday: Christmas Sock day
    Through the Chimney Thursday: Red and Green day
    Festive Friday: Red, white and green--spread holiday cheer and random acts of kindness

    December Calendar and Newsletter

    posted Dec 2, 2016, 8:34 AM by

    Please find enclosed the newlsetter and calendar for December. Happy Holidays! 

    Sunset Park's Leader in Me: A Positive Light for Community

    posted Nov 28, 2016, 6:53 AM by


    Giving thanks 

    WE HAVE a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day and throughout the year.

    Just recently, The Pueblo Chieftain has reported several gratifying stories that exemplify what makes this community special.

    Pueblo’s benevolence was conveyed in the headline “CHARITY: Two groups help many,” about Tom and Louie’s Cupboard teaming with area motorcyclists’ annual Pueblo Turkey Run to deliver food items so that some 1,000 families can have a full dinner table on Thanksgiving again this year.

    Likewise, Pueblo Chemical Depot contractor Bechtel has teamed with Pueblo Cooperative Care Center to distribute hundreds of turkeys to families.

    Another headline, “Generosity makes holiday meal a reality,” featured preparations for the city’s Community Thanksgiving Dinner with food and offers to help from all kinds of wonderful Pueblo businesses and residents. This year’s dinner at the Pueblo Union Depot is in memory of two young Puebloans who died in 2016: Devin Clark, the victim of a senseless drive-by shooting in February, and Jordan Munoz, who died following a motorcycle accident on the freeway in June.

    Puebloans can give thanks to first responders who are there to help whenever needed. We appreciate, for example, city firefighters, with mutual aid from West Park Fire Department, for quickly dousing a grass fire near Lake Minnequa lastSunday before it could damage nearby homes on Pueblo’s South Side. Good work.

    We are gratified that Chris Markuson, the county’s director of economic development and geographic information systems, has been elected chairman of the Colorado Utility Consumers’ Board. The board strives to represent residential, agricultural and small business utility consumers before the Public Utilities Commission.

    We are grateful, too, for Sunset Park Elementary School’s “Leader in Me” program, which teaches leadership and life skills to students. Last week, the kids heard state Sen. Leroy Garcia and Pueblo businessman-philanthropist Dave Feamster talk about some of the “7 Habit Principles” that aid in creating a positive, productive culture for the young to embrace.

    Sports also can draw kids in a constructive way. Last Saturday, local police officers and firefighters squared off in a charity hockey match that drew a capacity crowd of all ages to Pueblo Plaza Ice Arena. The patron-donated money, toys and books will be distributed to needy families before Christmas. And Pueblo’s Original Wrestling Association continues to let interested children experience the sport of wrestling up close and personal.

    These are just recent examples of the kindness and generosity for which the Pueblo community can give thanks, both today and year-round.

    To see the original article view the document below

    Sunset Park's Leader in Me Program In the News

    posted Nov 28, 2016, 6:50 AM by   [ updated Nov 28, 2016, 6:54 AM ]


    Sunset Elementary sees the guiding light 

    Garcia, Feamster champion Leader in Me program



    We have two ears so we can listen twice as much as we speak.

    Sounds simple enough.

    Students at Sunset Park Elementary School used that statement to explain one of the “7 Habit Principles.”

    The school’s administrators and teachers hosted a fun-filled and lively assembly Friday todemonstrate the leadership and life skills that their students have been learning through The Leader in Me program.

    Sunset Principal John Hull explained that the program teaches leadership and life skills to students, while also creating a culture of empowerment. It is composed of seven different habits designed to teach students leadership.

    During the assembly, staff and students at the elementary school were able to showcase just how the seven habits have made an impact on the students.

    State Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, and local businessman and philanthropist Dave Feamster spoke at the event.

    Feamster, a former hockey player, talked about the “fifth habit,” which is: “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” He told the calm 450 students to never give up, and he shared a story about how he was cut from the first hockey team he played for.

    “I didn’t make the team because I wasn’t good enough. I was probably the worst guy on the ice. But you know what? The coach said something to me. He said, ‘Dave, it’s all right that you didn’t make the team, you are just learning how to play. The key is not giving up,’ ” Feamster said.

    “All of the sudden something in my brain and my heart went off, saying I understand that I am not there yet, but if I work hard, things will open up for me. Opportunities will come my way if you just keep working hard.”

    Garcia spoke about the “third habit,” which is to put first things first.

    The lawmaker and former U.S. Marine asked students what was most important to them. He told students to put others first and also to put homework first.

    “Ask yourself throughout the day if you are leading by example in your school life and at home,” Garcia said.

    Hull, who has been principal at Sunset for 13 years, said the two speakers fit well in demonstrating leadership skills.

    Sunset received a grant from the Leader in Me program through Panda Express restaurant, to initiate goals and to introduce the 7 Habits into the classroom. With that, the school has become a Leader in Me school.

    There are close to 3,000 Leader in Me schools worldwide. Sunset is the only school in Pueblo that is in the program.

    “We started working on the grant last fall and received the grant in the spring,” Hull said.

    Staff at Sunset participated in four days of professional development seminars over the summer to learn how to teach the habits and to create a culture of leadership in the building.

    “The staff did this entirely on their own time.

    It’s ongoing, as we still have more to complete,” Hull said. “We have taught the habits in the classroom and now we are in the second phase, which is starting to apply them and release leadership roles to our students.

    “It’s been, so far, exactly what we have hoped for.”

    Friday was set aside to celebrate the program and to give students a chance to showcase what they have learned. Each grade level — through song or skit — demonstrated each of the habits. They danced, laughed and even saw Garcia and Feamster bust out some dance moves.

    “Today was a celebration that we received the grant, and we wanted a chance to showcase that this is not just a subject in school that you learn,” Hull said. “This is what leaders do. This is what productive citizens do every day.

    “We would appreciate any community support and we invite any of our community to come in and share their greatness with us. We are calling all leaders.”

    To view the original newspaper article click on the links below

    November Calendar and Newsletter 2016

    posted Nov 9, 2016, 9:53 AM by

    Please find enclosed the November Calendar and Newsletter. 

    Sunset Park Student in the News-Fire Chief for a Day

    posted Nov 9, 2016, 7:53 AM by


    4 little chiefs elate depts. 

    Essay winners take victory lap in fire trucks



    The cute quotient of local fire departments increased significantly Monday with the appointment of four adorable third-grade girls as chiefs.

    And even if it was just for a day, it was groundbreaking.

    “To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve had four girls win the contest,” said Erik Duran, a spokesman for the Pueblo Fire Department.

    The Fire Chief for a Day essay contest is a long-running partnership between city and rural fire departments, Pueblo-area McDonald’s restaurants and local schools.

    Held in conjunction with National Fire Prevention Month, the endeavor invites third-graders in both local school districts to explain what being fire chief for a day would mean to them.

    This year, the best of these essays were judged to have come from the pencils of Unique Ayala-Cordova (Sunset Park Elementary), Cheyanne Ortiz (host school Morton Elementary), Jordan Duhon (Sierra Vista Elementary) and Skyla Kopasz (Vineland Elementary).

    Inside a jubilant Morton gymnasium, an upbeat Ronald McDonald served as host for an all-school assembly that saw the four pint-sized leaders recognized by (real) fire chiefs from Pueblo, Pueblo West and the Mesa.

    And while each of the winners had their own reasons for wanting to be boss, service to others, including animals, was the common motive.

    “I want to help put out a fire with them,” wrote Jordan. “It is important to get out of a fire. Clearly, that is why I want to be chief.”

    “If people get their pets stuck in a tree,” Cheyanne noted, “I can help get them out of the tree. Then I can make my neighborhood a better place by putting out fires.

    “If we had a big fire, I could put it out with the hose from the front yard.”

    Skyla is particularly impressed with the versatility of firefighters.

    “If there is a problem, they save the day. They help people who are injured and help people in car wrecks. They put out fires and get people to safety.

    “I think firefighters are awesome.”

    The most touching essay, from Unique, centered on a disaster that could have been much worse if not for the quick action of first responders.

    “Two months ago, a terrible, tragic event happened. My dad woke up to my house burning down. It was the most horrible thing in the whole world. We lost everything.

    “I want to be a fire chief because I would like to save people’s lives and their homes. Nobody should ever have to go through losing their home or things. It would be awesome to say you saved someone’s life or house.”

    Unique made it a point to thank Conrad Orndoff, representing the Pueblo Rural Fire Department, for responding to that blaze in her Salt Creek home.

    “It makes us feel real good, you bet,” Orndoff said after accepting Unique’s thanks.

    With Ronald McDonald as a riding partner, the helmet-wearing little chiefs concluded the day by boarding a shiny new firefighting rig for a cross-town ride to the South Side McDonald’s for lunch.

    Community Events

    posted Oct 26, 2016, 6:45 AM by   [ updated Oct 26, 2016, 6:46 AM ]

    See the attached flyer for a safe trick or treat event happening this week! Also homework help is offered through the Calvary Church. See the attached flyer and contact them for more details. 

    Halloween Observed 2016

    posted Oct 13, 2016, 1:23 PM by John Hull

    Hello Sunset Park Community,

    The staff and leadership of Sunset Park hopes you understand our reasoning in regards to Halloween this year. Just in case you did not get the school messenger phone call, we will not be having a parade for Halloween this year. There have been many factors that led up to the decision to not hold a parade and we believe that it is in the best interest in regards to the safety of our students to handle it this way. The bright side is that students will still have a really fun day and they will also still get to Trick or Treat, if that is something your family does, on Monday, October 31st.

    For school on Friday, October 28th students will be able to dress in Halloween colors, wear Halloween shirts, hats and/or color their hair. We will still have the Monster Mash where they can dance like crazy and classrooms will still be holding Halloween themed parties.(Please check with your child's teacher for times). Lunch will be like a normal school day as students won't be heading home for changing. Remember there is no school for students on Monday, October 31st.

    We take the safety of our students very seriously and we feel this is the best plan to keep our students safe and secure.

    Thanks again for your support,

    John Hull
    Principal Sunset Parky Elementary

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