Students benefit when community gets involved


By Terri Lynn Oldham House

You never know what is going to fill up an editor’s email box in any given week.

This week, we were pleased to find an email from Keith Bruno with an article written by his wife, Kelle, about Pagosa Peak Open School’s Bird Festival.

With the help of school music teacher Perry Harper; the presence of a live peregrine falcon named Dooley, along with its handler, Pat Jackson, from the St. Francis Sanctuary and Wildlife Rehabilitation Center; assistance from Audubon Rockies bird enthusiast Keith Bruno; funding from Foundation for Archuleta County Education (FACE); and a fantastic turnout of parents and family members, the festival and study of birds was deemed a huge educational success.

Another notable email this week was from Principal Chris Hinger about Pagosa Springs Middle School’s Science of Snow Day.

Last Friday, fifth-graders ventured to Mary Fisher Park and Reservoir Hill for a unique lesson in science.

Eric Deitemeyer, director of the Wolf Creek Ski Patrol, taught students about the signs and symptoms of avalanche activity, beacon location and tested the stability of the layers of snow.

Jordan McMahon and Mercedes Siegle-Gaither created an activity about predator/prey dynamics and winter adaptation that allow creatures to survive in our mountains.

Keith Bruno taught students how to measure the snow water equivalent, identify layers and interpret the “history” of the snowpack, and more.

Herb Grover led a hands-on learning station about tree aging, identification, forest structure and forest health.

Volunteers from the Weminuche Audubon Society took students on the Great Backyard Bird Count, where students identified bird data for a global-wide bird census.

What valuable lessons for youth growing up in our mountain community. We wish we had had leaders such as science teacher Chris Couch and Audubon volunteer and event coordinator Keith Bruno back when we were in fifth grade.

Last month, Ursala Hudson emailed an article about munchkins making meatballs at Seeds of Learning.

Culinary chef, native Pagosan and mother Nikki Macomber gave Seeds children a cooking lesson on how to make authentic meatballs using a recipe straight from Italy.

On a regular basis, parents and community members share their expertise in unique lessons from art and music projects to science and naturalism. Seeds children are exposed to experiences that spark inquiry and broaden perspectives.

One of our favorite articles recently was submitted by Pat Hasenbuhler regarding the donation of $1,000 by the San Juan Stargazers Astronomy Club for the StarLab fund.

Teachers Debbie Moore and Anita Hinger have been working for over a year to raise $49,000 toward the purchase of a mobile planetarium with a 360-degree spherical projection to point out objects in the night sky.

The StarLab planetarium will offer an interactive experience, bringing astronomy and STEM curriculum to the students in our community.

These dedicated teachers, along with other volunteers, have worked for over a year to raise 50 percent of the $49,000 to purchase the StarLab through grants and private donations.

You can help by bringing your donation to either Pagosa Springs Middle School or Pagosa Springs Elementary School, or mail a donation to the Archuleta School District designating the donation for the StarLab fund at P.O. Box 1498, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

Also supporting the StarLab is the Scholastic Book Fair coming to Pagosa Springs Elementary School March 2-13. The theme is Wish Upon a StarLab Book Fair! The proceeds from the book fair will contribute to the fundraising efforts.

Parent volunteer Lisa Scott submitted an article this week about the book fair and the The Stars of Fine Arts Family Night, which will be held March 11 from 5 to 7 p.m. The Partners In Education Committee will organize the activities for the evening and will also provide a delicious, nutritious and fun homemade dinner. Additionally, artwork created by students of all grades will be on display and many items will be available for bidding in a silent auction.

We have plenty of reasons to celebrate the students, staff and volunteers at our local educational institutions.