July EHS Principal's Update

Parents & Students:

I hope you are taking some time to enjoy a few barbecues during the long and warm summer nights. Although the start of school is still off in the distance, we are getting excited about some of the changes coming to Erie High School in the fall. Here are a few of the steps we are taking to move Erie High to the next levels of excellence:

1. Next fall, EHS will be one of only two high schools in Colorado to start a College Board, Advanced Placement Capstone Diploma Program. AP Capstone will give students an edge in their junior and senior years as they prepare for college and university success. Last month, Kevin Maclennan, CU's Director of Admissions, was kind enough to share his excitement about AP Capstone with me. Students who are sophomores in 2015-16 will have an opportunity to apply for admission to AP Capstone during the school year. Please take a look at this link if you would like to read more about this exciting new program: https://lp.collegeboard.org/ap-capstone

2. In addition to AP Capstone, EHS will launch the Erie Academy of Engineering & Aerospace this fall. The Engineering Academy will provide students with the opportunity to explore concepts of engineering design, automation, computer science, and software design. Students who complete three years of study prior to their senior year will enroll in a research and seminar capstone project. Our hope is that some of our students enrolled in both the Engineering Academy and the AP Capstone Program will integrate their research and capstone projects. Next fall, we intend to begin building partnerships with some of the many engineering and aerospace companies along the Front Range. Our intent will be to familiarize companies with the Engineering Academy and glean from them their expertise as to how we can best prepare students. We are also hoping to bring students to visit engineering companies and to bring engineers to EHS to speak to students about their particular field and areas of expertise.

3. The growth of Erie High School is mirroring the growth of our community. Next year, EHS will have about 850 students in grades 9-12; our freshmen class will be a record number - 292 students. Growth brings challenges but mostly opportunities. We are fortunate to live in a community where education is held in high regard and parent support of schools is at a high level. The new families moving into our community bring these same values with them. We are very thankful for this, and I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all of our families - especially those who are new to Erie or are sending a son or daughter to EHS for the first time.

4. Last spring, we hired several new excellent people to add to our outstanding staff at EHS. In our front office, Melissa Lisenbe will be our new attendance clerk. Melissa comes to us from Longmont High School. She is replacing Leticia Tapia, who will serve as our new registrar. Leticia is replacing Toni Salz, who retired in May. Toni was an outstanding staff member at EHS for many years. Both Melissa and Leticia bring talent and diligence to their new positions, and I am grateful for them and our very friendly and hard working office team.

Last spring, Scott Leiding - long time coach and librarian - retired after many years of success in St. Vrain. Scott will be replaced by Julie Singh, one of our math teachers. Julie's Master's Degree in education technology, combined with her enthusiasm and teaching acumen, will allow EHS to transition our library into more of a student-centered, digital work space. Julie will be accompanied in the library by our new media clerk, Amber Cowles. Amber recently moved to Colorado from Texas, where she worked in a high school counseling department. We are looking forward to some exciting changes in the design and function of the library in the near future, and the leadership of both of these fine educators.

Beth Lee, formerly an EHS English teacher, made a transition last spring into a new role. Beth will serve as a specialist teacher next fall, leading a newly designed Gifted & Talented program. Beth is going to do a great job of guiding the growing number of EHS students needing specialized education programming. Beth will also serve as EHS's literacy specialist, helping students who need assistance in reading.

St. Vrain schools are fortunate in that the pool of excellent teaching candidates is deep. Due to our growth, EHS hired five outstanding teachers in May who will join us in the fall. In mathematics, Kelsey Brax and Lindsay Fox will join our team. Kelsey and Lindsay are exceptional young talents who stood out in a field of excellent candidates. They will be tremendous additons to our Math Department. In our English Department, Liz Hoelzer joins us from Timberline K8 in Longmont. Liz has a great deal of teaching and coaching experience. She has many qualities, but what stood out the most was her intelligence, enthusiasm and competitiveness. Kelsey Johnson comes to EHS from Philadelphia, where she taught STEM design and principles of engineering in an innovative high school. Kelsey has impeccable credentials and has spent most of her summer studying the new engineering curriculum we will implement in the Engineering Academy. In our World Languages Department, we will welcome Hanna Huang to EHS. Hanna is an experienced teacher coming to us from mainland China. Hanna has a great passion for teaching and for American culture.

In our study halls, we are looking forward to enhancements in the fall. Most importantly, we will have two new staff members leading every one of our study halls. Marilyn Addington and Patricia Peterson-Johnson will assume these duties. Both have many years of experience in education and coaching, and we are looking forward to providing a more comprehensive tutoring emphasis. Patricia and Marilyn will be great assets for our students.

In our Special Education classes, we are bringing Katherine Robbins on board as a para-educator. Katherine has worked in St. Vrain as a para-educator in a variety of school settings as well as serving as a coach. Katherine is another great addition to EHS, and she will bring great energy to our students and our school community. Last but certainly not least, I am pleased to welcome Lauren Whitely to our Choir Department as a full time accompanist. Ms. Bird has needed a full-time accompanist for a few years now, and Lauren is going to be a strong addition to a rapidly growing program.

5. EHS will kick off the school year with a new, slightly modified school schedule:

  • Block 1/5: 7:25 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.
  • Block 2/6: 9:00 a.m. - 10:25 a.m.
  • Reading/Homework: 10:25 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
  • Lunch:  10:45 a.m. - 11:25 a.m.
  • Block 3/7: 11:25 a.m. - 12:50 p.m.
  • Block 4/8: 1:00 p.m. - 2:25 p.m. 

As for upcoming dates, please mark down Tuesday, August 11th (8 a.m. - noon) on your calendar as picture/registration day at EHS.

On behalf of EHS, I hope you have a great rest of the summer. Thank you for your support of EHS and GO TIGERS!


--Matt Buchler