Thank you for the warm welcome this morning and your optimistic comments for the start of another exciting school year. A couple of special guests from the Douglas County School District greeted us this morning to wish us a seamless and enjoyable first day of school. I was very proud to take them on a tour of our school to showcase our exceptional students and give them a snapshot of all the work we accomplished over the summer. As the DCSD employees exited our building they commented on the extraordinary behavior and eager attitudes of our children! I made sure to visit each classroom in session to share these positive comments. We are very fortunate to have students of excellence at North Star Academy. NSA is happy to introduce Compassion as the character education theme for this year. As educators and students, whenever we are faced with an issue, compassion is the most efficient and effective way to reach a positive outcome.
Thank You Parents!
Because of your commitment and dedication, NSA was able to refinance our bonds at a much lower interest rate, complete a successful building expansion, install a new gym floor, add security cameras and security door film, paint the interior of the school, install an upgraded fire alarm system, outfit a preschool classroom, and embark upon a major turf and landscaping project.
2017 Total Solar Eclipse
For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will be completely visible across the US on Monday, August 21st. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the earth and sun and the diameter of the moon is larger than the sun’s, completely blocking all direct sunlight resulting in total darkness. Being a science “Buff”, the earth fascinates me and together with the staff, I hope to instill the love for science in our children. It made us all very proud when our 8th grade students outscored most of the state schools in science, earning an A+ based on the CMAS last year.
As a welcome back gift, NSA ordered proper eclipse glasses for each child to observe this historical and scientific event!
Posted Friday, June 9, 2017
Dear NSA Families,
Thank you for supporting our staff as we work diligently each year to provide our children with an excellent education. I am honored and grateful to be surrounded by so many caring and devoted families. NSA families are connected through a philosophy of excellence in education and character development.
We are excited to announce that our character education theme for the 2017/18 school year is Compassion and our academic theme is having a Growth Mindset. We will be holding character education assemblies reinforcing our themes for the year and will be providing students with the tools they need to be excellent citizens. Summer break is a great opportunity to show children how to be compassionate. We will be posting community and service opportunities organized by NSA parents on our school Facebook page.
Upon request, I included some farewell words of inspiration that I shared with our eighth grade graduates:
Successful and happy individuals have a unique way of approaching life. Here are five qualities I have noticed about extraordinary people.
- These individuals have the ability to overcome challenges and failures.
Life is full of challenges. How do you view challenges? Do you see them as setbacks or do you view them as opportunities for growth?
Do you remember Brickelle Bro, a Douglas County graduate and US Paralympian swimmer who visited North Star a couple of years ago. She was born with many birth defects including fibular hemimelia, which resulted in the amputation of both of her legs. Brickelle began swimming when she was 12 years old in 2008. She loved swimming and found a way to power through her disability. In 2012, Brickelle was selected as a member of the US Paralympic Swim Team and attended the games in London, England. She was named as one of the youngest swimmers to compete in London. During this swim meet her swimsuit was tearing into her shoulder and her swim cap started coming off. She was having a hard time seeing and initially felt despair. Suddenly a thought entered her mind from the Disney movie Finding Nemo. Dory, Nemo’s fish friend says, “When life gets you down what do you do? You just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” Brickelle was able to change her thoughts in a moment and as a result of her perseverance, she qualified for the Olympics. Brickelle converted her challenge into a success. She did not curse her swim attire, nor did she make excuses and place blame. She just kept swimming.
- They believe that intelligence can be improved through hard work and effort. Talent and natural ability can only take you so far. We all have heard the saying “practice makes perfect”. When we learn a new task, the neurons in our brains grow and make new connections. A person’s true potential is unknown because it is impossible to foresee the effects of effort, determination, passion and training.
- Successful people can identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Take ownership of your strengths, you have worked hard to cultivate them. I also want you to think about how you handle criticism, do you learn from the feedback or do you get defensive. People need honest and constructive feedback. If we are protected from a healthy dose of reality then we will never realize our potential. We will perceive feedback as negative and will miss out on the opportunity to excel. If we don’t fail, we will never develop resiliency. Successful people are highly resilient.
- They don’t dwell on the past. They learn from it and they don’t worry about the future. They put their energy and focus on what is in right front of them. I call this living in the zone. Living in the zone requires increased focus and attention which results in higher levels of performance. It can be experienced as you are writing a paper, playing a sport or composing music. Anyone who has a challenge of mental and/or physical performance can chose to live in the zone. Pay close attention to what occupies your thoughts. Keep your thoughts clear, positive and loving.
- They make a plan to accomplish goals and create healthy habits to support them. Please do not underestimate the power of healthy habits. If you lack motivation to accomplish your goals, start with small action steps. One day you will wake up and the goal will be staring you in the face.
In closing, some words of wisdom from several Star Wars characters:
Try not. Do or do not…there is no try. —- Yoda
In my opinion, there is no such thing as luck. —- Obi-Wan Kenobi
Your focus determines your reality. —- Qui-Gon Jinn
I find your lack of faith disturbing. —- Darth Vader
All mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s the only way we grow. —- Padme Amidala
Never tell me the odds. —- Hans Solo
The fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side. —- Yoda
Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. —- Obi-Wan Kenobi
Posted Friday, April 14, 2017
NSA Students “Paws” for Vets
All K- 8th grade students had the honor of meeting Elise Hunt, an army veteran with over 24 years of experience, at one of our character education assemblies this year. Elise shared some of her personal experiences and stories regarding the importance of assistance dogs, their role in society, what to do when service dogs are around, the placement process, and some of the amazing qualities these animals inhabit. Students “oohed and aahed” when they were shown pictures of service dogs and learned about service dogs’ healing abilities. Elise shared with us that her service dog “Cowboy”, an 18-month-old black lab assistance dog was given to her by the paws4vets nonprofit organization. “It’s been great having COWBOY around. He’s not a cure-all, but I find I laugh a lot more and have more good days than bad,” said Elise Hunt.
The paws4vets organization established a Tribute PUPPY Program to honor our Nation’s heroes by naming future assistance dogs in their memory, and when doing so, all capitals are used to spell the dog’s names. Hunt’s assistance dog, COWBOY, is a tribute dog named after a former army officer and state department employee who was killed in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber in 2012.
“I lost a marine to a suicide bomber in Afghan in 2010 so it seemed almost serendipitous when COWBOY chose me. Taking care of him helps me deal with the fact that I couldn’t take care of that marine,” Hunt explained. “He is very cued in to my needs. If I start feeling anxious he senses a rise in my cortisol levels (hormones produced when one is stressed) and presses himself against me. This causes me to focus my attention on him rather than my rising anxiety, which calms me down. He can also tell when I’m having a bad day. He starts to make a nuisance of himself, which makes it impossible not to engage, and I find my moods being elevated and feeling happier with him around,” Hunt said with a smile.
Our students raised over $1,000 to support Elise and paw4vets. We held a ‘hat day’ giving students the opportunity to contribute donations to the organization and wear their favorite hat to school. “I was very astonished by the amount of students who contributed to this reputable organization,” said an NSA 7th grade student. “I was happy to hear that Ms. Hunt was able to get her dog, COWBOY.”
Enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend and Happy Easter!
Posted Thursday, March 2, 2017
“If you build it, they will come.” While we did not have a vision of a baseball field as Costner does in the movie Field of Dreams, we definitely have a vision.
We are excited to announce the beginning stages of our building expansion that will allow us to move all of our children into one physical building, increasing the overall safety of our students and staff at NSA. We will also be adding space to improve the educational programs we offer including, Gifted and Talented programming, Special Education, Math tutoring, and Reading Intervention. We are also very excited to offer our community a Core Knowledge Preschool option in the 2018-2019 school year.
As the board stated in their letter to the parents, we successfully managed to refinance our existing bonds at lower rates giving us the opportunity to pay for a large portion of the project while achieving significant annual cash savings over the life of the bonds. The remainder of the project is funded by savings accumulated over the last two years with this particular project in mind. We were given a high rating from Standard and Poors based on many factors and variables. S&P looks at academic achievement and growth, student retention rate, staff retention rate, waitlist, and cash reserves. I am proud to say we have a healthy, vibrant and successful school!
Our construction team (Golden Triangle) is committed to the safety of our students. They installed a large fence around the perimeter of the site, mobilized the area, are in the middle of an excavation, and continue to prepare for the pouring of a concrete foundation. The large hole in the ground has triggered a whole lot of conversation on the playground. One bright-eyed student approached our Building Superintendent and asked if we were finally building a swimming pool!
Posted Tuesday, February 07, 2017
Join us for the 2017 NSA Auction
We are less than a week away from our final fundraising event of the year, the NSA Auction, held at the exclusive Colorado Golf Club. Attending the NSA Auction builds community outside of the classroom, and allows families and staff members an opportunity to socialize with each other while giving back to the school we all love! In addition to great food and entertainment, there are many extraordinary items including VIP parking spots, priority pickup, golf outings, exclusive getaways, classroom projects and teacher time.
Last year we raised over $80,000! With your generous donations, we were able to install a monitor in the front office area for real-time monitoring of all campus cameras with a 16 channel NVR with recording capabilities to archive video. We also added 16 Outdoor/Indoor security and surveillance cameras for optimum coverage of the entire campus. We purchased 2 charging carts with 60 laptops and 6 smart boards to help integrate technology into our rigorous curriculum. We installed 3 exterior door key card access control readers; one in the kindergarten area, one in the elementary school patio hallway and one in the middle school patio hallway. We relocated and added sprinklers to accommodate new interior security doors. And finally, we applied Solar Vision Security Film to our main front doors to add an extra layer of security and improve property and asset protection. Thank you NSA for your donations!
This year we need your help to raise money for additional laptops and smart boards, playground Improvements including turf and more security enhancements.
I hope to see you Saturday evening!
Posted Monday, January 30, 2017
“Screen Time” Challenge Triggers Many Emotions
Do you remember the very impressionable image of an egg, sizzling in a frying pan, representing “your brain on drugs.” It was a clear message, and the ad’s final line as the egg white clouded and cooked was “Any Questions?’
Nearly thirty years later I ask myself what is screen time doing to our children’s developing brains. Multiple studies have shown too much screen time causes atrophy in parts of the brain where “processing” occurs. Areas affected include the frontal lobe, which governs executive functions, such as time management, prioritizing, reasoning, and impulse control. This is the rational part of the teen’s brain; therefore, we need to take this very seriously. The frontal lobe of the brain is not fully developed until an individual is twenty-five years old. Sadly enough, “Screen Time” has hijacked the minds of many of our children and it appears as though their brains are being physiologically altered from the amount of time they interact with a screen (phones, tablets, video games, TV, social media etc.)
We want to help our children reclaim their beautiful organ and develop the skills to be successful well beyond North Star Academy. We met with our eighth grade class last month during electives to discuss the effects devices have on their bodies. Setting screen time rules before allowing children to engage in their devices is essential. We also believe that children need to have better boundaries with their devices. As a school of character, we decided to intervene! We challenged our eighth grade students to set a goal to eliminate social screen time for a week, logging their emotions as they “detox”. We want to encourage better and more meaningful communication among students and bring a level of awareness to them regarding how much control their devices have on their minds and brains.
I experienced a multitude of emotions as I read the heartfelt and eye opening logs from eighth grade students regarding this challenge.
“I love this experiment. Being without my device made me lose track of time. I almost forgot to write this because I was enjoying an amazing book. I prefer crafts or reading and of course playing sports over using my device. It was a nice break from drama!”
“I was actually super excited to have been given this challenge. I deleted social media in hopes that I would feel better. Being social media free made me feel much happier but then I got to school and noticed my friends were treating me differently. When I got rid of social media, I feel like my friends got rid of me.”
“If I’m being completely honest, it was harder than I thought it would be not to text. I really do think that this challenge was a good idea. It can be good for us all to unplug for a bit.”
“I was sitting down doing my homework and picked up my phone over 50 times. I guess it was just out of habit. I was able to finish my homework in half the time because I controlled my impulse to check social media.”
“I had over 100 streaks on my snap chat and I decided to cut them back to 50. It was hard to manage all of the streaks, kind of like a part time job.”
In an effort to bring awareness to the effects of screen time on the brain, we will be hosting a showing of the documentary, “Screenagers.” We will send out a showing date soon.
Please sit down with your children and set healthy screen time boundaries and goals. This spreadsheet will help you track screen time.
North Star Academy Screen Time Chart
|Texting/ Email||Internet||Social Media||Video Games||T.V./Movies||Total Hours|
|Total Hours Per Week|
Posted Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
Happy New Year! NSA is ringing in yet another new year on a high note. For two consecutive years, our NSA elementary students were awarded the 16th Annual Student Video Contest, given by the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers (CCFLT). Logan Knudson and Lucas Botyarov (second grade students in Senora Crowe’s class) created, presented and recorded a video in Spanish demonstrating ACTFL’s World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages. Lucas was quite energetic when he spoke about his Spanish class. He said, “Spanish classes are fun and I can talk in Spanish.” These ambitious second grade students demonstrated their Spanish proficiency by presenting information, concepts, and ideas using media and adapting the narration to various audiences of listeners and viewers.
Senora Crowe is proud of her students and exclaimed, “Learning a second language can be fun and open doors to new opportunities. The best method to teach a second language is by providing students with comprehensible input immersed in a nurturing and conducive environment. I don’t force early output nevertheless allow students to express when they are ready.” The videos were judged based on comprehensibility, fluency, pronunciation, vocabulary and language control.
Our Middle School 7th grade students also participated in the video contest and received recognition for their efforts. The winning videos will be showcased at the 2017 CCFLT Spring Conference awards luncheon on February 25th. To view the winning video please click here.
With the flu season in full swing, NSA was in need of a thorough deep cleaning. Over winter break NSA hired GermBlast to sanitize and disinfect all high touch surfaces killing 99.999% of all detectable pathogens. They begin the process with microfiber cloths and a pretreatment chemical. They use a spray that utilizes a rapid kill surface disinfectant, which is a powerful, hospital-grade disinfectant. This GermBlast Spray is non-corrosive, non-toxic, and non-staining. GermBlast Steam was used to clean the bathrooms, which kills an assortment of pathogenic microorganisms within seconds. All hard surface areas such as: desks, chairs, tables, computer keyboards, laptops, phones, light switches, and door knobs were disinfected throughout the school.
Posted Friday, December 16, 2016
Parker Task Force Food Drive
Competition Sponsored by Cardel Homes
Once again, North Star Academy’s community has come together to support the Parker Task Force in providing food and other goods to many individuals and families who are in need of assistance. From November 28th through December 9th, North Star Academy donated over 4,300 canned goods, bringing a little “Holiday Cheer” to many while helping individuals become more self-sufficient. Thanks to the partnership with Cardel Homes and The Parker Task Force, NSA will be receiving $2,000! This money will be used to purchase more laptop computers for our students.
The Parker Task Force staff is comprised solely of volunteers. Individuals can volunteer as little as two hours a month or as many as twenty hours a month. “Volunteers serve as greeters, client interviewers, data entry personnel, shoppers, stockers and sorters. PTF is fortunate to have a dedicated staff of capable volunteers.” – Parker Task Force
The Parker Task Force is looking for dedicated volunteers throughout the year. If you are interested in volunteering please visit their website at: http://www.parkertaskforce.org/Volunteers.htm
Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy Holiday!
Posted Friday, November 18, 2016
During this Thanksgiving season I encourage you to reflect on what your family is grateful for and take a moment to appreciate our Country and service men and women. I appreciate Sandy Stoller (NSA Music Teacher) for putting together a meaningful Veteran’s Day Ceremony with the help of staff, parents and students. “Every year for Veterans Day our school has an amazing ceremony. Family members of their children who fought in the military were honored during this year’s ceremony. Several veterans were invited to come and tell us about their war history and gave thought provoking speeches. Each year we have several kindergartners dress up as if they were serving in a certain branch of the military. It was a day to be remembered.” – Leadership Council
It is our pleasure to honor all Veterans and Military men and women who so valiantly serve our Country. We appreciate the sacrifice and commitment they make each day to preserve our freedoms. I am grateful for my Army and Navy relatives who so diligently served the people of the United States. They received military medals and ribbons for their courage and purple hearts for their sacrifice. I am so proud of my Great Uncle Nash who received the Silver Star, one of the highest decorations in the military.
Our students honored our Veterans by writing essays on the meaning of the flag, singing armed forces medley’s, participating in a flag folding ceremony and greeting our guests with respect. Arthur Schneider, US Navy had this to say about our school, “Your Veteran’s Day program was terrific! I was taken back by the enthusiasm, patriotism, and politeness of your students. We were treated so well by your students, staff and parents. We want to be a positive influence and help in our community.”
Posted Friday, October 28, 2016
Dear NSA Families,
This week many students brought home Fun Run prizes including backpacks, bracelets, water bottles, necklaces, and fit bits. Several students were awarded dress of choice for the week and out of uniform shoes. And, two lucky winners left the building with an Apple TV and an Apple watch. Because of your support NSA raised over $54, 000.00 in this year’s Fun Run! This is remarkable! The money will benefit our students as they work diligently to strive for excellence.
Thank you to all of those who volunteered the day of the event, Mr. Macias and all of our staff for making it a great day, Heidi Thompson and Kristy Suda for organizing the event and all of the sponsors for their contributions.
We Love Our Grandparents!
North Star Academy honored over 500 Grandparents this month at our Annual Grandparent’s Day celebration. It was an opportunity for Grandparents to connect with their Grandchildren while enjoying a special pancake breakfast and a heartfelt welcome speech. NSA served over fifteen hundred pancakes thanks to our leadership council, parent volunteers and staff members. One of our third grade students exclaimed, “The servers (leadership council) treated me well, the food was tasty and I really liked eating with my Grandparents.” Several leadership council members expressed their compassion for waiters and waitresses as they scurried around the gym serving pancakes and sausage to hundreds of NSA families.
Our grandparents are no longer in the trenches and have taken the time to pause and reflect on their successes and failures. They are wise and as parents we can listen to their words of wisdom and learn from their experiences.
Posted Friday, September 30, 2016
NSA Students Show Off Their Socks and Shoes in Support of the American Diabetes Association (ADA)
Just a couple weeks into the school year it was brought to my attention that one of our students was training for a 100k bike ride benefitting the American Diabetes Association. NSA jumped on the opportunity to show our support and illustrate our character theme of Integrity. North Star held a “silly sock and shoe day” raising over $1,500 in support of this 76-year-old organization.
Congratulations to Conor Palmquist for his dedication, determination and drive to successfully finish the Tour de Cure bike race. “I was a little nervous about riding 62 miles, but was definitely up for the challenge because it’s for a great cause,” Palmquist said. “The ride was hard, but I pushed through and accomplished my goals of finishing the race and raising money for the American Diabetes Association.”
The NSA Leadership Council gave a presentation to all students earlier this month teaching them about the American Diabetes Association and showing them how the money they raised will help those individuals who suffer from this condition.
On Friday night, Conor was invited to the Champions Dinner. A “Champion” is anyone who raised over $1000 and Conor was honored to attend and be a part of that special evening thanks to NSA.
NSA Supports 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro
“With the recent action of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, all of the world has been cheering on their fellow countrymen and women. This year at the 2016 Paralympics, the community of Castle Pines has their own star to root for – 2015 Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) graduate and Stanford University Paralympic swimmer Brickelle Bro. Her long and inspiring journey has led her to this amazing opportunity to experience what she loves.” Riley Busch (RCHS Intern Writer)
In 2015 North Star Academy hosted a school-wide assembly with Brickelle Bro. In support of our school’s character education program, NSA reached out to the paralympian athlete as someone who exemplifies excellence and could speak to the students about challenges and triumphs. Brickelle shared personal stories of challenge in her presentation to the entire NSA student body. For a small donation, students were able to accessorize their school uniform with their choice of shoes, socks and hats. In just one day, the school community raised over $1,400 for Brickelle Bro’s My Feet Don’t Stink foundation.
Good luck Brickelle!
For more information on Brickelle click on the link:
NSA’s Character Theme Announced for 2016-2017 School Year
Click here to read the news article about NSA:
Posted Monday, August 29, 2016
NSA Curriculum Night
Thank you for coming to curriculum night and catching a glimpse into what a day for your child looks like here at North Star Academy. Each year we set goals for NSA based on our mission, vision and needs of the school. Our fundraising efforts and gracious parents afford us the resources to accomplish our goals.
Over the summer we purchased 6 Smart Boards and 60 laptops with 2 charging carts bringing us closer to reaching our goal of having one laptop cart for each grade level in our elementary school and one laptop for each student in our middle school. We installed 16 outdoor/indoor security and surveillance cameras for optimum coverage of the entire campus. We added a large screen office monitor for real-time monitoring with 16 channel recording capabilities and the ability to interface with local law enforcement. And, we installed 3 exterior card access control doors and plan on adding two interior double doors for enhanced security. Thank you NSA parents!
Several parents asked if I would share my curriculum night golf analogy.
“School shares many similarities with the game of golf. There are many rules to follow and etiquette to adhere to while navigating the golf course. Like school you have to be prepared, you need to book a tee time, bring your golf clubs, pack extra tees and golf balls, and then of course choose the appropriate golf attire. Each summer I set health and wellness goals. This summer I decided that my summer goal was to outdrive my husband on the golf course. I started by examining my golf clubs because I was not about to change my golf swing. I tried that before and it was disastrous.
I carted my clubs to the closest golf shop where a golf professional examined my swing. It was recommended that I modify my driver to gain more distance. It was at that moment when I realized that my husband who bought me my golf clubs years ago had been sabotaging my golf game. After some modifications I was off to the greens because I was on a mission. After the first few holes I decided that I was going to change my summer goal, perhaps a cycling or swimming goal would be more attainable. My “club” was not performing to my expectations. I was quickly reminded by my children that golf was a humbling sport and that I should never give up. Those words sounded awfully familiar. They were watching me. I decided to push through despite my damaged ego. Then one very hot afternoon it happened, I reached for my lucky tee, placed my ball just so, positioned my feet for distance, brought my club way back and swung. I knew the moment I hit the ball that I was going to reach my goal. I finally outdrove my husband. It didn’t matter that my ball landed in the middle of the sand trap and that I spent the next three strokes in the bunker. I met my goal!”
Posted Monday, August 15, 2016
When I arrived at school this morning and greeted parents, I noticed an enthusiasm for the start of a new school year and a desire to get back to “structure and routine.” Many of our students communicated the same excitement, however the expression on the faces of several boys and girls reminded me of a poem I had to recite in elementary school.
“I cannot go to school today” Said little Peggy Ann McKay. “I have the measles and the mumps, A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry. I’m going blind in my right eye. My tonsils are as big as rocks, I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox.
And there’s one more – that’s seventeen, And don’t you think my face looks green? My leg is cut, my eyes are blue, It might be the instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke, I’m sure that my left leg is broke. My hip hurts when I move my chin, My belly button’s caving in.
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained, My ‘pendix pains each time it rains. My toes are cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak, I hardly whisper when I speak. My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight, My temperature is one-o-eight. My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There’s a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is … What? What’s that? What’s that you say? You say today is ………….. Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!”
The NSA staff is excited to introduce Integrity as the character education theme for the year. Although the word is classified as a noun, we at NSA see it as an action word. We will teach our students how to be honest and fair by modeling this character trait, delivering meaningful lessons and providing opportunities to serve.
Our first quarter service project will show our integrity and also benefit The American Diabetes Association. This year is the 25th Anniversary of the Tour de Cure. Participants will ride 62 miles to help provide community-based education programs, and fund critical research to find a cure.
One of our very own NSA students is training for this event and will be participating in the Tour de Cure with his Boy Scout troop. “We are teaming up now to change the future and make a positive impact in the lives of those who are affected by diabetes. We are committed to ride and raise money in this inspirational event not because 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, but because we personally know some of them, and want to do something about it.”
Posted Friday, June 3, 2016
Dear NSA Families,
Thank you for a wonderful school year! Once again, it is my pleasure leading North Star Academy to excellence. When a small group of parent volunteers came together 12 years ago with a vision for a Core Knowledge charter school with an emphasis on character, service learning and Spanish the thought of celebrating a successful 10 years was merely a hope and a dream. Our team of dedicated staff, parents and students have worked diligently to bring this dream to fruition, and we are proud to serve our students and families while modeling a culture of excellence and respect.
The end of the year is always a busy time complete with traditions and meaningful experiences!
The NSA 10th Anniversary Art Show was an event to be remembered. The entrance was grand with a floor to ceiling character tree and hundreds of origami birds. The hallways were beautifully decorated with one piece of artwork from every elementary student. The middle school leadership council greeted families and community members with trays filled with delicious appetizers and desserts. The sounds of jazz filled the air as our guests viewed artistic compositions throughout the school. Brandi Rojas (NSA Art Teacher) fosters a love for the arts and encourages students to use their imagination to produce meaningful creations. “Artistic achievement is as valued as academic achievement. In the art room students are engaged in art through the exploration of art and culture guided by our CORE curriculum. Student character is key in the art classroom by illustrating authenticity, craftsmanship, and creativity with visual meaning and beauty. Through art, students gain a greater appreciation and knowledge of other cultures and communities which in term help form lifelong learners!” Brandi Rojas
Congratulations and thank you to everyone who volunteered and contributed to the enormous success of the 2016 Spring Auction. Our efforts raised over $85,000 for NSA! This is money that is essential to the school’s overall success and will help us purchase safety and security equipment and much needed technology devices. Thank you to those individuals who spent countless hours making this event special.
This year’s Field Day theme was character. Each student wore a t-shirt with a unique character trait illustration and held a corresponding flag. The field looked like an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course. Congratulations to Mr. Macias and all of the 8th Grade Students who worked around the clock to create a fun and challenging field day experience.
We hosted the Kindergarten End of Year Programs and I am continually impressed by how much our students learn in one year. They presented to the audience what they “wanted to be when they grew up” and came to school dressed the part. We were surrounded by future spies, veterinarians, teachers, scientists, astronauts, mom’s, and even some dad’s. As you know, every child is unique and has talents and abilities that make them special in their own way. Our Kindergarten teachers recognize their talents and abilities and help them develop their special traits throughout the year. I will miss the kindergarten hugs, smiles, and kind words this summer!
I would like to say good luck to the Eighth Grade Graduating class of 2016. I appreciate and admire your talents and abilities and am excited for your journey. I thank you for your unconditional kindness, love and respect. You have helped shape North Star Academy!
Click here to read the NSA Tenth Anniversary article: http://yourhub.denverpost.com/blog/2016/06/north-star-academy-celebrates-10th-anniversary/149659/
Posted Friday, April 29, 2016
Service is an Action Word at NSA!
Earth Day is a school-wide community service day and a component of the North Star Academy’s character education and service learning program. Our goal is teaching students to be good citizens; showing respect and responsibility in our school and community. This year’s Earth Day projects involve partnerships and service with several local organizations including the Stonegate Senior Life Center, Montessori Preschool, Champion Bank, Stonegate neighborhood, Chaparral High School, and Challenger Park. The local businesses and NSA students and leadership council worked together to identify a project for the day including cleaning, planting, participating in recycling projects, and building bird houses, as well as performing for the patients at the Senior Center. The NSA choir and orchestra students performed character and integrity songs for the senior life center patients. Our students look forward to this event each year and enjoy the gratitude they receive from the Stonegate Senior Life Center.
NSA was approached by a former student to participate in Chaparral High school’s “Wish Week” an entire week completely dedicated to fulfilling the wish of a “wish kid” and showing that as a community we will be there for each other. This year’s “wish kid” has cancer and wanted to go to Hawaii. By the end of the week, Chaparral raised $57,031.54, enough to get the “wish family” to Hawaii. Chaparral also helped make many other kids wishes come true. I am proud to say that NSA’s Middle School donated the proceeds from their dance to this good cause.
“Wish Week is about loving one another and being there for each other. I am so thankful that North Star was able to participate in this week and I want the school to know that they were a part of something bigger than themselves and that is truly amazing.”
-Grace Devries, former NSA student
Another former NSA student asked me earlier this year if I would be willing to have them conduct their Eagle Scout project at North Star. I was honored that he would think of us and asked if he would be willing to repair the benches and flower pots in the Kindergarten area. He agreed and said he would also construct three picnic benches for the students. The Eagle Scout spent hours acquiring materials in planning the project, having the project approved by the Beneficiary as well as the Troop Committee and also the District Representative for Pioneer Trails.
“After the approvals were obtained, I researched which picnic table kits had the best reviews for longevity and also materials needed for the tables and estimated how long it would take to complete each table. In addition to building the tables, I wanted to restore the existing four benches and two large planters that are in the same area of where the new tables would be placed. I evaluated the planters and benches and determined that two pieces of Pine wood were needed to replace a missing board as well as a warped board. In addition to the boards, there were several bolts that were missing on the benches and they were not stable. I consulted with employees at Lowes on which stain would be the best to keep the redwood looking attractive for as long as possible and also researched online reviews of different stain products. Based upon my previous wood shop class in high school, I determined that the benches needed to be sanded first with an 80 grit sandpaper and then finished with a 240 grit sandpaper so the seating areas would be smooth.
After I made a list of what I needed for this project, I wrote letters or called three local businesses, Lowes, Home Depot and Alpine Lumber to see if I could obtain donations. I had an in person meeting with the manager of Alpine Lumber, and several days after our meeting he called to say he could donate all the redwood lumber. Lowes also donated my cart full of supplies.”
-Justin Stenman, former NSA student
Thank you NSA Community!
Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2016
The Good Samaritan Committee was established in November of 2009 when a North Star Academy family in need presented itself and we felt compelled to give service and support to help this family through a difficult challenge. The response from the NSA community was awe-inspiring; however, not surprising based on our five core values. These core values serve as the foundation for our school’s educational program and are reinforced within the culture of the school:
- Excellence – motivating students to achieve at their highest potential through an award-winning, research-based academic program.
- Integrity – encouraging honesty, high standards and strong moral principles among all members of the school community through a nationally-recognized character education program.
- Respect – teaching students an appreciation of and respect for other cultures, nationalities, traditions and languages through a District-model Spanish language program.
- Citizenship – providing students with opportunities to serve others through authentic and relevant community service projects.
- Responsibility – inspiring students to act independently, take responsibility for their actions and serve as role models for other students through meaningful leadership opportunities within the school.
NSA has helped over 30 families in the past few years by sending flowers, arranging meals, holding canned goods food drives, collecting gift cards, and fundraising. “NSA has been fortunate enough to help a number of families of both students and faculty, in ways both big and small, when they experience family needs such as a serious medical situation or the death of a family member. Each situation is unique, and treated with discretion and care. We rely on the assistance of the staff, room parents and the entire NSA community to support our families. Over the years we have found that, without question, NSA has an enormously generous group of citizens with huge hearts.” – Good Samaritan Committee.
Recently, a family at NSA was in a tragic car accident over Spring Break. We were heartbroken to share that the mother lost her life in this accident. The father was also severely injured. The family has three children at NSA and a preschool child as well. A couple of teachers and students designed and hand-created journals filled with encouraging words from staff and peers to present to the children who lost their Mother. We have also been collecting items of distraction to be placed into a “Sunshine Basket” and delivered to the children. We are excited to announce that in just a few short days we have collected over $9,000 for this family. Thank you NSA! I am proud to be part of this compassionate community.
The Good Samaritan Committee Members share their time and talents and uphold the vision and mission of North Star Academy. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, professionalism, and outstanding character Good Samaritan Committee!
“We, the Citizenship of North Star Academy, pledge to have respect for others, responsibility for ourselves, integrity in our actions and words, and excellence in our work.”
Posted Friday, March 4, 2016
The NSA Spanish department worked collaboratively to make this year’s Spanish Cultural Day a success. They proudly stated, “Cultural day gave all NSA students a look into a myriad of cultural themes. Seventh grade students proudly presented posters on South and Central American animals, fantastic monuments, beaches, museums and other tourist destinations, history of Spanish speaking countries and more! The seventh grade students desire to see and experience these destinations themselves was infectious to their peers. They came away from it with a new perspective on various parts of our world and a longing to see great things and speak with interesting people in their native language. Both upper and lower grades were treated to a Tango demonstration by a professional Tango dancer.”
North Star presented awards to several elementary and middle school students who won the 2016 Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers (CCFLT) video contest. This was an opportunity for students to create a two-minute video showing how two students can interact with each other using the Spanish language. The videos reflected the theme of the 2016 CCFLT Spring Conference “Let’s get real!”
We would like to congratulate this year’s winners.
Middle school: Isabella and Eli Vickers (6th grade)
Elementary: Braeden Phillips and Olivia Dunham (2nd grade)
We asked third grade students what they learned from this experience and here is what they had to say:
“I want to travel to Copan, Honduras because there is a zip line you can go on where you can see parrots.”
“I want to travel to Las Islas Canarias. The volcanos made black beaches. The last volcano erupted in 1909…. They eat conejo (rabbit) and salmorejo. There is a forest that leads up to a volcano called “El bosque de las Mercedes.”
“I want to travel to “El Castillo de Chapultepec” (Chapultepec Castle) because I like its history and I want to go to the museum there.”
“I want to go to Viequez (in Puerto Rico) because I can do buggie boarding and go to its well know restaurant “Barbanegra de Viequez. Viequez has many places to see.”
“I want to travel to Bolivia because there is the most dangerous road in the world.”
‘I want to travel to Las Islas Galapagos because there are a lot of interesting animals, there is a beach, you can take boat rides, and you can snorkel. I love wildlife.”
“I want to go to Bogota, Colombia because I would like to see the museum that is made of gold inside the museum. The outside of the museum has huge pillars and they are so big when you stand next to them you are the size of an ant. 95% of it is made of gold.”
“I want to travel to South America because the animals look so interesting. The one sadness that happened for me is that these animals are in danger and I want to help them.”
“I would like to travel to Galicia because I like fish like cod and salmon and there is a lot of fish in Galicia.”
Posted Friday, January 22, 2016
Our third quarter service project is all about the birds. NSA welcomed The Wild Wings Environmental Education organization to our school this week. “The organization’s primary goal is to foster a greater public awareness of the important roles that Colorado’s native birds and bats play in the environment.” wildwingseducation.org
Our Kindergarten through fourth grade students enjoyed an “eye opening” experience exploring different species of owls that are Native to Colorado. Students learned how physical adaptations allow these species of birds to survive in their habitat. The extraordinary adaptations of these animals include night vision, directional hearing and silent flight.
Did you know that owls can turn their head 270 degrees because they have 14 vertebrae, as opposed to the seven found in other birds and that a group of owls is called a parliament? When I asked one of our third grade students what she enjoyed about the “Secret Lives of Owls” program, her eyes grew as big as the Barn Owl we saw and she exclaimed, “The thing that was so cool about the birds was how fascinating they are. Their eye sight is so much better than ours and I liked how their wings were silent compared to other birds. I guess I just liked everything.”
Our upper grade students enjoyed a presentation on “Raptors of the Rockies.” We learned about the birds of prey that are found in the Rocky Mountain region including hawks, falcons and owls. Students were taught about the different roles of raptors and how they interact with their environment. We were astounded by the hawk’s keen eyesight. They can see eight times better than humans. Eyesight is primarily used for hunting and hawks can locate its prey from a distance of over a hundred feet.
Two seventh grade girls were impressed by the wild wings organization because they find birds that have been injured and nurse them to recovery. “We liked the example that the organization used to illustrate the extraordinary eyesight of raptors.”
Both groups enjoyed a flight presentation in our gym and are excited to “adopt a bird” with their classroom teacher.
We would like to congratulate all students who participated in our “Chores for Children” service project, giving time and service to their family, friends, and community for “free”. Our fifth grade students raised the most amount of money for this cause and will be getting a pizza party for their efforts. Nice work fifth grade! NSA is working with Edukit to buy, package and deliver all of the school supplies needed to help these under privileged students succeed.
Remember, birds of a feather flock together!
Posted Friday, December 18, 2015
This semester our fourth grade students spent six weeks studying a Core Knowledge unit on the Middle Ages. Each student was given a topic significant to the Middle Ages to research and present to the class. Topics included village life, Black Death, Robin Hood, women in the Middle Ages, crusades, Knights, churches, castles, etc… Students wrote a three paragraph report and brought a visual aid reinforcing their topic to present to their class. Students concluded their unit with Medieval Day. We invited the Society of Creative Anachronism http://www.sca.org/, an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe, to NSA. Our visitors dressed in clothing of the Middle-Ages and Renaissance and acted out a mock knight tournament. Students learned about heraldry, clothing, calligraphy and much more. The fourth grade students ended the day creating a shield, making calligraphy letters using feathers and grape juice and feasting on food of the ages. The last two months have been educational and fun stated Mrs. Crawford.
In Character Education this quarter we focused on Kindness and Compassion. Students participated in a “Chores for Children” service project, giving time and service to their family, friends, and community for “free”. I had one very sweet first grade boy bring me a bag of change that he earned over Thanksgiving break doing chores around the house. He wanted to give his earnings to other boys and girls “so they could have pencils to write with.” Thank you NSA families for reinforcing our Character Education philosophy!
We also raised additional money for the Wounded Warriors Project this quarter. I received this thoughtful letter from the CEO of the Wounded Warriors Project, Steven Nardizzi.
Dear Kendra and North Star Academy,
Without the generous donations from people like you, we wouldn’t be able to carry out our vision to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.
We give thanks that we are able to serve the mental-health needs of warriors through our Combat Stress Recovery Program. We give thanks that we can help improve warriors’ physical health and encourage positive lifestyles through our Physical Health and Wellness programs.
Each and every WWP program is made available to our wounded heroes and their caregivers completely free of charge—and that’s all thanks to you.
With sincere gratitude,
Steven Nardizzi Chief Executive Officer Wounded Warrior Project
I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!
Posted Thursday, November 12, 2015
HONORING ALL WHO SERVED
Veterans, Military Members, parents, State Elected Officials, community members, staff and students joined us yesterday as we honored all of the heroes who fought for our freedom and the heroes who continue to protect and serve our Country. Our students performed a warm and heartfelt ceremony for our military. Several of our Boy Scouts presented the American Flag, our second through fifth grade students sang songs and recited speeches from the Civil War including the “Battle Cry for Freedom”, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Battle Hymn for Gettysburg”, “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground”, and “Yankee Doodle”. Several student essay contest winners read their personal stories of family members who served or are currently serving our Country. It was an emotional day full of tears, admiration and respect for our heroes.
It is our responsibility to keep children safe at school, however it is our Military men and women who protect us all day and night. We can show our gratitude by making good choices with the freedoms we have and by taking advantage of opportunities to serve. As a National School of Character, North Star Academy has many opportunities to share our talents and serve our Community. Character is not taught through a canned program. Character is modeled and best taught through meaningful experiences. Last year we decided to partner with the Wounded Warriors Project, an organization that provides programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members. We were honored with a certificate of “Strength and Courage” from the HHC1093 Military Police Battalion and are proud to be recognized as ambassadors of the Wounded Warriors Project.
The following is a story of a soldier who continues to benefit from the WWP (Wounded Warriors Project) organization. His name is Patrick Corcoran and this is what he had to say:
“Growing up in Aurora, Colorado, I had lots of opportunities to enjoy fishing, hunting, camping, skiing, and football,” he explains. “And I still participate in them all today – even as a paraplegic.”Patrick’s injury happened on Aug. 13, 2009 in Wardak, Afghanistan. He was en route to a remote combat outpost to conduct a memorial ceremony honoring the most recent killed in action. Enemy forces ambushed Patrick’s convoy, and an improvised explosive device breached the hull of his armored vehicle. In the blast, Patrick suffered two broken legs, a compound ankle fracture, pelvic fracture, torn knee ligaments, vertebrae burst fracture with 90 percent spinal cord compromise, two additional spinal fractures, broken scapula, torn rotator cuff, head injury, and traumatic brain injury.“I joined because I wanted to serve,” says Patrick, whose stellar 23-year Army career began in 1986 when he was just 17 years old. “I had a great desire to be an infantryman and an airborne ranger. I look up to those who fight for our country.”Patrick’s desire produced an impressive advancement through his long military career — from rifleman to operations sergeant major.All of these through multiple deployments – including Somalia in 1993, where he led the Joint Task Force Somalia Security Team and served with the Quick Reaction Force during Operation Restore/Continue Hope.“Through the years I’ve tramped through the jungles of Panama and climbed the mountains of Honduras,” he says. “I’d do it all over again if given the chance.”That chance will never come because the explosion left Patrick paralyzed from the waist down. After five days in a coma, he regained consciousness in Germany at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. He was then transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center – where he endured more than 20 surgeries.“It’s an absolute miracle that I survived, considering I had a 7-inch-wide and 12-inch-long hole in my back.”“WWP is mind, body, and soul therapy that go a long way in assuring you’re still capable of meeting challenges. They’ve helped me in developing my confidence to function in a wheelchair. They’ve helped me get back out and do the things that I used to enjoy doing – hunting trips, fishing trips, sporting events, and things like that. The WWP helps me get better mentally and helps me stay active to get better physically, too.”WWP gives warriors a central location where they can access events, activities, fellowship, and helpful information.“You can do anything you put your mind to – you just have to come up with new techniques. With WWP, I can get involved with like-minded warriors who are in similar situations. You learn that if there is something that can be done, there are people out there who have done it.”
I would like to thank all of those participants who made this day special and recognize Mrs. Stoller for developing and conducting the program.
Posted Thursday, October 29, 2015
Thank you for joining us at our annual Trunk and Treat event. Our Volunteer Coordinator, Dawn D’Amato along with many generous volunteers, make this a safe and memorable evening.
Here are some safety tips to think about if you are going to “trick or treat” this weekend:
- Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
- Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
- Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
- Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. WALK and don’t run from house to house.
- Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
- Look both ways before crossing the street. Use crosswalks wherever possible.
- Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
- Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
- Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
- Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
- Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
Posted Friday, October 10, 2015
North Star Academy gave a warm welcome to over 300 Grandparents yesterday at our Annual Grandparent’s Day celebration. It was an opportunity for Grandparents to spend time with their Grandchildren and create a lasting memory. Throughout the week I asked many of our students what they appreciate about their Grandparents and it was quite clear that they cherish the quality time they get to spend with their Grandparents. The common denominator in speaking with the children about Grandparent memories was their expression. Their eyes lit up and their faces beamed with excitement. I respect and admire Grandparents and the important role they serve. They have a unique perspective, wisdom that comes with experience and a presence that is heartfelt.
NSA served over fifteen hundred pancakes thanks to our pancake vendor, parent volunteers, leadership council and NSA staff! Our teachers welcomed Grandparents into their classrooms to give them a glimpse into the life of an NSA student.
Have a wonderful and safe Fall Break!
Posted Friday, October 2, 2015
NSA Fun Run raises money and heart rates all at the same time!
A blanket of orange covered the North Star Academy field today getting ready for the Annual NSA Fun Run. After collectively running over a thousand laps around the building, students faces matched their bright orange shirts. “A popsicle never tasted so good,” commented one very excited NSA student. Mr. Macias was instrumental in preparing, and motivating students to work hard and show their parents and teachers that running can be fun.
This tradition is a success because of your involvement and support! Many thanks to Heidi Thompson, Kristi Suda and all of the parent volunteers for organizing this event.
Posted Monday, September 28, 2015
North Star Academy raised over $1600.00 for the Alopecia Areata Foundation! On Wednesday, September 23rd, NSA showed their generosity by paying $3.00 to wear a hat of their choice to school. Our kindergarten class wrote thank you cards to Actors, Anthony Carrigan and Kevin Bull for putting together inspiring videos for a school wide character education assembly.
You can show your support for North Star Academy by participating in the “Fun Run” fundraiser this week and by helping us reach our goal of 100% attendance on October 1st!
Posted Monday, September 21, 2015
Our students were excited to say cheese to a camera that was hovering over 25 feet in the air last week.
Thanks to Mrs. Wick and her lack of acrophobia we captured 670 smiling faces,
Celebrating NSA’s 10th Anniversary!
Posted Monday, September 14, 2015
Character Education Assembly Raises Alopecia Awareness
Today NSA students gathered in the gym to listen to Mrs. Reyhle, an NSA Mother of a child with Alopecia, deliver a special message about a condition that affects over six million people in the United States. Alopecia is a type of hair loss that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles resulting in a loss of hair.
Mrs. Reyhle asked competitor Kevin Bull from American Ninja Warrior and Anthony Carrigan from the hit TV series Gotham if they would be willing to make a video for North Star students. I was pleasantly surprised when the two gentlemen took time out of their very busy days to share an inspiring message of what it means to have unique traits.
Mrs. Reyhle was grateful that NSA was going to help the Alopecia foundation and stated, “Alopecia was unfamiliar to our family before our son Jackson was diagnosed with it, and while it wasn’t an easy adjustment at first, we have embraced his alopecia as an opportunity versus a challenge. We hope our son Jackson – who has had alopecia since age 3 – can help others better understand that being different is truly okay… And as Kevin Bull and Anthony Carrigan shared in their video messages with North Star, being different can actually be a good thing. Additionally, we are so grateful that North Star decided to support alopecia in raising awareness as well as money in an effort to help find a cure for alopecia. We feel truly grateful for that, and are excited to help support North Star in their service learning project goals.”
One of our fifth grade students shared with me that they did not know anything about Alopecia before the character education assembly. Another student exclaimed, “it was educational and cool to see the actors and hear about how it is not a bad thing to stand out as long as it is for something honorable.”
On September 23rd, students will be allowed to wear a hat of their choice with a $3.00 donation going to the Alopecia Foundation.
Posted: Friday, August 21, 2015
School Wide Assembly
To kick off the school year, NSA hosted a school wide assembly to welcome students to a new school year and unveil the character education theme for the year of “kindness.” In celebration of NSA’s 10th anniversary we wanted to do something special for our students. We “raffled” off seven k-8th grade tickets with the eighth one going to the entire student body. Each child will be coming home with a t-shirt today! They will have an opportunity to wear them soon.
We also announced that the first quarter service project will be in support of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF). One of our very own NSA students has this condition and we would like to help this organization with their research to find a cure. Stay tuned to learn more about the ways in which you can help NSA with our first service project. Last year we supported the ALS association and raised over $4,000. The ALS association recently made an announcement that there was a breakthrough in the field and the treatment will slow down or even stop the effects of this terrible disease.
Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2015
The secret to success is in the planning! After a long week of planning, preparing, and professional development we were ready to embrace all 675 faces. Some smiling, eager to start the year and some with eyes half open wishing they were still on summer break… and I’m not talking about our students.
This is a milestone year for NSA! We will be celebrating our 10th anniversary throughout the school year with many new service projects and character education lessons.
Where were we in 2006?
- Italy hosted the winter Olympics
- Fourth largest snow storms in Colorado history
- One of the top best selling books was The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
- Super Bowl Championship: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Number One Song: Bad Day by Daniel Powter
- Nintendo Wii was the most common Christmas gift
- NORAD moves Cheyenne Mountain Complex operations to Peterson Air Force Base
- Blockbuster Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean
- The T-REX Project in southeast metropolitan Denver was completed
- NSA opened our doors to 350 K-5th grade students