Open Letter to Future Crew from a Current Parent

“If you wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come.”

Read aloud by a first grader, this was the opening line to welcome students, staff, and families to the first Centennial Community Circle this October. To me, it epitomizes what underlies the education my children are receiving at Centennial: A School for Expeditionary Learning.

rockets

Three years ago, our family followed the support and criticism in response to the massive changes going on at the school. And two years ago, we took a leap of faith and choiced our son into kindergarten at Centennial during their first year as a new Expeditionary Learning school. My son is now a first grader and I have a daughter in kindergarten.

Yes, Centennial is a school in transition which means it still has its ups and down (hey, what school doesn’t?), but if you peek behind their doors, you might be surprised at all of the changes going on inside. This year, Centennial kicked-off an Extended Learning Time plan that provides an additional 300 hours of student engagement time throughout the school year. Forty-five minutes was added to the each school day, the number of days kids are out of school has decreased, and the biggest impact has been that every Wednesday (“Enrichment Wednesdays”), the entire school partners with over 20 outside providers to participate in enrichment activities such as dance, art, soccer, cooking, technology and science, martial arts, and yoga. This has allowed the teaching staff more collaborative planning time.

enrichment building

Honestly, I was skeptical about the longer day. I was concerned that it would mean more
“butts in seats”, worksheets, etc. Plus, ending at 3:45 felt too late to me, but as I’ve seen and heard about what the kids are doing with this extra time, I couldn’t be happier. At a time when schools are cutting regular enrichments, Centennial is adding them! Centennial is creating a learning environment that supports exploring, engaging, wondering, not just sitting and listening (although that is expected too!). These enrichments come in addition to the regular PE, art, music and Spanish “specials” (hooray!).

Plus, through our 21st Century Grant, after school offers a world of free activities for the K-5 kids. Soccer, Daisy Scouts, Destination Imagination, science club, sewing club, book club, sound lab, homework help, to name a few.

Last, one of my favorite things about the school is how open the administration, teaching staff, and PTA are to parent involvement. I am in the school two days a week volunteering in my kids’ classrooms, plus I am active in the PTA. I describe the PTA as a “Yes!” PTA. Bring an idea in and the response is “Yes! Go for it!” There is no opportunity too big or too small to be involved.

Is Centennial the “perfect school”? No, but is there such a thing? To me, Centennial is progress, growth, opportunity, engagement, and constant wonder. And I believe that we will continue to grow and progress with each year.

-Jean Cimino

Upcoming tours:

January 9th, 2:30-3:30

This is a great opportunity to meet with our Principal, Laura Munro and other staff/parents. Each Open House will start with a 1/2 hour Q&A session, followed by a tour of the school.

If you are unable to attend one of these Open Houses, please call up Stacy (720) 424-8900 to schedule a tour.

You can also contact our PTA president directly, who is happy to address any questions you have.