~ by Rick Langenberg ~
The Woodland Park RE-2 School District didn’t display any shyness last week in showcasing its facilities, programs, activities and technology attributes.
And many parents and school kids responded with much enthusiasm, with an impressive crowd of nearly 500 partaking in the festivities, kicking off with a chili feast Tuesday and culminating Thursday evening with robotic cars and student television broadcast stars manning their own programs. Even mother nature, which hit the region with extremely frigid temperatures late last week, didn’t detract from the large crowds.
“We really opened this up to the community more,” said Stacy Shubloom, public relations and communications director for the Woodland Park RE-2 School District, in explaining the reason for the good attendance during the showcase tours. “We really wanted to show what we have to offer.”
This is the second year in a row that the district held large concentrated tours as part of showcase week for education. This is a time when many parents begin making decisions regarding what schools their kids should attend. Also, it’s a time that many students give their parents tours of the facilities they attend. During the tours, the students themselves play a big role in showcasing certain programs and often lead the tours.
The school showcases kicked off on Jan. 24 and extended through Jan. 27, with detailed tours of the high school, the middle school and three middle schools. A variety of exhibits were displayed throughout the week.
Currently, the district has a total enrollment of 2,462 students. The vast majority of this number stems from the high school, which features close to 800 students.
But when it comes to education, the competition is intense. The RE-2 District, like most school entities in the Pikes Peak area, faces much competition from a variety of educational choices, mostly located in Colorado Springs. As a result, district representatives have to convince local parents to keep their kids in the district and even lobby for kids outside the area. Plus, with more people moving into the area, questions often arise regarding what the school district has to offer.
According to district representatives, the main purpose of the event is to acquaint parents with the many activities and programs it provides, along with showing off some of their technology, communications and special perks.
For example, Woodland Park schools aren’t known as athletic power houses for such sports as football and basketball. Yet, the district is one of the few entities in a mountain area that sports a golf team and one that actually won the league championship in 2016. If kids want to partake in a rare sport or activity, it most likely is available, or can get started without too much opposition.
“We have so many programs that people are not really aware of,” said Erin Street, an instructional resource teacher at the WP middle school. “We really want to emphasize our strengths.”
The school features more variety from past years, with much more individualized learning possibilities and after school options, according to Street. Some of its club options aren’t offered anywhere else. “We encourage our kids to try something new,” she added.
During the tours at the middle school, one of the star attractions was the Panther News Network. Young middle school students displayed their talents in doing live television and on-line broadcasts with an amazing amount of poise. CNN and Fox News may have a new competitor on the horizon.
Meanwhile, a series of computer-guided robotic cars, patrolled by students, definitely commanded much attention by parents. Technology was a definite selling point during the evening, as many parents had to succumb to the reality that their 7th grade kids are way ahead of them.
And some students displayed their pottery and artistic expertise.
On a more serious note, parents also learned about how their kids can prepare for PSAT/SAT tests through a representative from The Princeton Review during a meeting at the high school. Regardless of the debate over various tests, these results often determine a student’s prospects of getting into a good college.
And information about the forthcoming aquatic center, slated to open later this year next to the high school, received top billing. The students of the district were big cheerleaders for this project, a dream of Woodland Park since the mid-1990s.
“I really believe the our school showcases were very well received,” concluded Tina Cassens, a representative of the Woodland Park Middle School. “There is a lot of pride in what we have to offer. We had kids leading their parents through the school for the tours.”
The showcase tours are now part of an annual event for the district.