I moved to Parker in August 2011. I drove a 16-wheeler rental truck from Portland to Denver.
I lead the Parker Non-Fiction Book Club on the second Tuesday of every month, and I like to do light hikes, light bike rides, occasional rafting, camping and I love dancing. I am an avid book reader, and I'm fascinated by geology.
I've been doing projects on houses I've owned since I was 29 years old. I designed and built a four-part deck with lattice structure in my early 30s, which I finished when I was five months pregnant with my second child.
An engineering mind
My aptitude tests in high school said I should be a civil or mechanical engineer, but both were male professions at the time, so I chose a different path. However, I did insist that my high school allow me to take drafting, and I was the first girl in my school to take what had been an all-boy class. The boys in the class nicknamed me "Ernie."
I retired 10 years ago at age 53 after being a software engineer and database administrator. I love programming and databases as much as I love hot fudge sundaes.
I was always attracted to how things where built, especially with wood, and I am fascinated with mechanical objects. When I was younger I helped many boyfriends work on their cars and I learned to tune up my own. When one of my boyfriends wanted me to tune up his car I would charge him a home-cooked four-course dinner.
I am almost finished building a deck on my home in Parker. There was nothing difficult about designing it by myself, and I encourage more women to build their own decks. Sixty isn't too old to learn how to use tools and do-it-yourself.
I used Duct Tape for a third hand, and two car jacks to level wood before attaching it. I used string with levels to ensure my deck was square and level. Now I know why real builders wear work pants with lots of loops and pockets. I was forever walking around looking for something that I had in my hand just 10 minutes ago.
Fixing up the place
I replaced chewed-up window sills when I moved in and a lot of trim, and I'm trying to get up the courage to retile my fireplace. I'm currently learning how to fix sprinkler systems and next year I hope to add a drip irrigation system for my garden beds. I also have fencing to fix.
It keeps me out of trouble.]]>
"I was just looking up at the stars and thinking how cool it would be to go there," the 12-year-old said.
This summer, she took one small step toward that goal.
Sams, a seventh-grader at Cimarron Middle School in Parker, spent June 12-17 attending Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, a weeklong program for children literally reaching for the stars. Throughout the week, Sams and her fellow trainees slept in quarters designed to resemble the International Space Station and trained in simulators like those NASA uses.
The week culminated in a simulated mission to the ISS, where the crew conducted experiments and performed a spacewalk. The simulated zero-gravity conditions made it difficult, Sams said, but they also added to the excitement.
"You never really realize what the astronauts are actually doing. You see them on TV and you think `Oh, that would be so cool to do someday,' but you never actually think how frustrating it could be," she said. "You never really think of gravity, it's just always there. So it does get frustrating because you're just floating upward."
Another highlight of the experience for Sams was meeting Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, a Fort Collins native and astronaut who shared her firsthand experiences of working in space.
"I'm never going to forget it," Sams said. "Having known that she went to Space Academy and then she became an astronaut later, it just made me want to do it even more."
Sams and her teammates were referred to as "Team Deimos," named for one of Mars' moons. The name signifies that the students are part of what their trainers dubbed the "Mars Generation."
"In 2030 or 2040 we'll be sending people to Mars," Sams said. "It sounds really fun, even though I know it might be dangerous... There might be signs of life or other species of life on Mars. It might even have the answer to how life was created on Earth."
Though the average distance from Earth to Mars is close to 140 million miles, Sams' sights are set even deeper into space. She said she wants to explore exoplanets, which orbit stars outside our own solar system, to search for other lifeforms. She added that she wants to go herself, rather than trusting the mission to probes.
"You can't get the same amount or the same kind of information from machines," she said.
Considering Sams' determination just to get to Space Academy, it's easy to believe other solar systems are within her reach. Sams' mother, Wendy, said Cassie began saving the almost $1,600 it cost for airfare, ground transportation and tuition when she was 4, and paid for everything herself.
"If there's anyone to do it," Wendy said, "it's her."]]>
On Aug. 25, 26 and 27, the school will host four showings of "Proof," a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by American playwright David Auburn. The cast and crew are taking a unique approach to every aspect of the production, from an intimate, theater-in-the-round seating design to the subject matter the play explores.
"It's definitely got more dimensions than most plays," said female lead Annika Radovcich, a Legend senior who plays Catherine, a young woman with a deep intellect. Aside from learning 80 pages worth of lines, Radovcich said playing a complex character pushed her skills beyond what she used in other school plays.
"She's probably the most in-depth, real character I've had to play," Radovcich said. "She was a lot to take on."
Technical Theater Director Bennie Palko said the show includes more drama, introspection and humor than most high school plays, but that was the objective.
"The goal with the summer stock is to get as close to what you're going to experience in a small professional theater production as we can in a high school setting," Palko said.
The plot revolves around the relationship between Catherine and her father, Robert, a mathematics professor. They are both geniuses struggling with mental illness. After Robert's death, Catherine is left to reconcile their relationship as one of his former students emerges with evidence that may discredit Robert's life's work.
"It absolutely is a drama," Palko said, adding that audiences can expect to laugh as well. "It really is actually funny, it has its lighter moments."
Senior Hadley Schmidt, an understudy for the role of Catherine's sister Claire, said one of her favorite parts of the experience was the teamwork between cast and crew.
"We've grown so much," Schmidt said. "To see everyone come together for this is really cool."
Schmidt said she also appreciated the play's focus on interpersonal relationships, but she thinks audience members will all find their own meaning.
"I hope everyone can take something away from it that's personal to them," Schmidt said.
One of the things Palko took away from the production is not to judge the talent she works with by their age.
"They came up with stuff I hadn't even though of, and that steered the show in a different direction," Palko said. "It was actually a more collaborative process than some of the professional shows I've done."]]>
Now I am not the first one to share this next bit of advice when it comes to pointing fingers and placing blame, and I am sure I will not be the last one to share it with you either. But we have to remember that when we point the finger of blame at someone else, there are usually three fingers on our hand pointing directly back at us.
Obviously it's the media's fault for corrupting the election for Donald Trump. There is no question it is the previous secretaries of state who should be blamed for recommending the use of personal email accounts for Hillary Clinton. It must be the other driver's fault for beeping their horn when we swerved into their lane while reading a text. And it is clearly the umpire's failure to call balls and strikes accurately that leaves a batter walking back to the dugout in contempt of a called third strike. And it is never the salesperson's fault for losing an opportunity, it must have been the prospect or customer who screwed up the deal.
Even some of the elite athletes from around the globe, the world's finest physical specimens, were found pointing the fingers of blame on weather conditions, the city of Rio, officials, and other reasons they may have missed out on earning a medal. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying it's everyone, it just seems to me that it is happening more and more and being accepted and even tolerated more and more as well.
There is nothing like a great victory speech. I love an inspiring business leader, athlete, coach or politician who can talk about the dedication and commitment that it took to win, and do it with grace, confidence, and conviction. But I think I enjoy seeing and hearing from people who lost and who handle the loss with even more grace and courage. The business leader who finds herself sharing why the stock of the company went down, recognizes where the mistakes were made, and doesn't place blame anywhere else but squarely upon her shoulders. The coach who says we were just outplayed and lost to a great team. The athlete who congratulates the winner and commits to working harder and preparing better for the rematch. The salesperson who says they were simply outsold. The driver who recognizes that texting and driving is a really really really bad idea.
We love to accept the accolades for success, but for many of us it is just too hard to accept the ownership of our mistakes. Maybe we do it to save face, so that we look better in front of family, friends and co-workers. Maybe we just can't believe that we are actually capable of fault, living with the mentality of "It's not me, it's you."
If there were a way to keep count, track records, and give awards for making mistakes, that may be a contest that I could actually win. I sure have made my share along the way. How about you? Do you own up to your own errors and losses or are you someone who prefers to point the finger of blame at someone else? If you are, just look down and you will see three fingers pointing right back at you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on finger pointing and placing blame at firstname.lastname@example.org. And when we take ownership and accountability for our own mistakes and losses, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a resident of Castle Rock, the former president of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, a strategic consultant and a business and personal coach.
The same goes for humor.
There isn't a single musician or humorist that we all can agree on.
The Beatles probably come close.
Steve Martin probably comes close.
But I am sure some of you are shaking your heads.
There is music that I refuse to listen to, and there is music that I can't get enough of.
There is humor that I avoid, and there is humor that makes my day.
I have a great dentist. She has a staff of 20. I spend a lot of time with them, and with their music.
I don't need an anesthetic most of the time.
But I notice others tapping their feet.
That's exactly what I mean.
Someone somewhere is buying Taylor Swift tickets.
Someone somewhere is buying Kanye West tickets.
"It ain't me babe."
I told Jennifer about our first television. Television in America was new then, and it made stars out of some pretty odd ducks.
Milton Berle, for one.
I was a kid, but I didn't get it, and I still don't.
It was the same thing with Lucy. Not funny.
I watched singers like Johnny Ray and Teresa Brewer.
Then one day on "Bandstand" I saw Buddy Holly. Game on. Rave on.
My mother took my sister and me to a movie house to see "Fantasia."
Bingo: Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky.
I sat cross-legged on the living room floor and watched Ernie Kovacs.
I didn't know the word "ingenious" yet.
On date nights in high school, I dated my radio.
All we had was Top 40, and it was better than nothing, but it wasn't very inspiring.
You had to dig deeper. I found out about doo-wop for one thing.
I listened to the B-side of "Blue Moon," the Marcels' biggest hit, and thought "Most of All" was better.
Doris Day movies and Jerry Lewis movies were intended, I think, to amuse me. "M*A*S*H" and "Friends" and "Seinfeld" were intended to amuse me. No, no, no, no and no.
If it has a laugh track, I refuse to watch it. It's telling me when to laugh. It's telling me that something that isn't funny is funny.
P.G. Wodehouse was a wit. Garry Marshall, rest in peace, was not.
"Happy Days" was not.
Gary Larson was. "Where have you gone, Gary Larson, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you?"
Our first television didn't come with a remote.
And I wasn't allowed to change the channels.
So I sat there and put up with Ralph screaming down Alice's throat.
"Why is that funny?" I asked my father.
A few years later, Archie treated Edith like she was a dope.
"Why is that funny?"
One day I heard Louie Armstrong's "Stardust." Supernatural.
Years later, Woody Allen used the same recording in "Stardust Memories."
Like him or not, his soundtracks are brilliant.
Allen is brilliant too. Others think he is a self-absorbed creep, and probably would rather watch Kathy Griffith at midnight.
I know someone who turns on her car radio, finds her favorite station, and leaves it there, no matter what.
She puts up with Hall and Oates.
I couldn't do it.
She puts up with Adele, Jimmy Buffett, and Garth somebody.
I couldn't do it.
Here's your homework: watch the YouTube of Steve Martin's tribute to Paul Simon at the Kennedy Center in 2002.
It's good humor and good music.
Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that operate with increased autonomy through a system of waivers from certain requirements. They are an integral part of public education in America. Yet these public schools increasingly find themselves under attack in Colorado and across the United States.
The Colorado Education Association and its allies backed efforts to complicate the waiver process for charter schools during Colorado's 2016 legislative session. This alliance also aggressively opposed efforts to fund charter school students equitably under voter-approved property tax increases, thereby perpetuating a system under which Colorado charter schools annually receive roughly $2,000 less per pupil than their traditional public counterparts. This shortfall partially explains why charter school teachers make nearly 30 percent less on average than their traditional public colleagues.
These assaults defied any credible policy logic, but they provided an opportunity to rally anti-charter forces against the expansion of parental choice in public education. This begs the question: What exactly are they rallying against?
Charter schools in Colorado now educate a higher percentage of minority students than non-charter schools. They also outpace the state in the percentage of English-language learners served. Although public charter schools serve a lower percentage of low-income students than their traditional public counterparts, the gap is narrowing. The percentage of low-income charter students has roughly doubled since 2001.
Colorado charter schools continue to serve a lower percentage of students who require special education. However, a 2014 study on the subject in Colorado indicates that these differences are primarily explained by differences in application patterns and student classification, not the systematic "counseling out" of special education students often alleged by charter opponents. In fact, the study found that significantly fewer students with individualized education plans exited charter schools than exited traditional schools at the elementary level. There was no significant difference in exit rates at the middle school level.
When it comes to academics, charter schools tend to surpass traditional public schools. With only a handful of exceptions, the 2016 State of Charter Schools report found that charters outperformed non-charters in both proficiency rates and student growth on statewide assessments. Though more analysis is needed, these positive results appear to hold true for both the older TCAP assessment and the newer, more difficult PARCC assessments.
Most importantly, the explosive expansion of Colorado's charter sector indicates that these schools are serving a significant - and growing - demand for educational options on the part of Colorado parents. The state's first two charter schools opened in 1993-94. By 2015-16, that number had grown to 226 - an 11,200 percent increase.
Charter enrollment growth has dramatically outpaced non-charter enrollment growth, and the gap continues to grow. In 2015-16, charter schools served more than 108,000 students statewide. That represents a 30 percent increase in enrollment since 2011-12.
Though individual reasons for choosing a charter school vary, it is clear that Colorado parents are seizing opportunities for educational choice in droves.
None of this is to say that all is perfect in Colorado's charter sector. Charter school four-year graduation and post-secondary enrollment rates lag significantly behind those of traditional public schools in Colorado. These gaps are largely explained by the charter sector's higher proportion of online and alternative schools, which often serve extremely difficult populations of students. Yet demography must never become an excuse. As always, there is work to do.
Even so, it is clear that charter schools in Colorado are meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse population of students. Meanwhile, the sector is expanding rapidly to meet the demand of parents hungry for educational options and opportunities.
Charter opponents will no doubt continue to fight the tide. But standing between parents and the educational options they know their children deserve is unwise, and I have little doubt about which side will prevail in the end.
Ross Izard is the senior education policy analyst at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
Jackson Crist of Highlands Ranch kept the ball in the fairways.
Douglas County's David Roney saw the extra work on his driving pay off.
Those three players had the top scores in the Aug. 18 Continental League golf tournament at South Suburban Golf Course in Centennial.
Blackwood was the medalist with a 2-under-par 70
"I putted pretty well, got off to a good start and made a few birdies," Blackwood said. "I made five birdies. Everything was in sync. There were no bad shots. I hit the ball well."
Crist, a senior, bogeyed the 18th hole but finished with an even-par 72 following an impressive approach shot than wound up a foot from the cup.
"On the front nine, I started off birdie, birdie," Crist said. "I had four bogeys in the round and I made three birdies on the back nine but bogeyed my last hole. I didn't miss a lot of fairways. I didn't make any big numbers."
Roney, also a senior, finished with a 1-over-par 73.
"I've been working on my drives and I kept it in the fairway," Roney said.
Regis Jesuit was first in the team standings with a four-player total of 302 strokes.
Heritage was second at 304, led by Blackwood. Also for Heritage, Ryan Way had a round of 75, Jordan Phong 77 and Cam Jajaj an 82.
Mountain Vista placed third with a consistent showing led by Nick Kim's 3-over-par 75. Chris Rapp shot 77, Evan Wilkinson 78 and Elisandro Aragon 79.]]>
This year's tour includes two new breweries, both in Castle Rock --; 105 West Brewing Company and Castle Rock Beer Company. The tour's featured events happen each Wednesday in September, including beer-themed author events, live music, brew-inspired crafts, and, of course, tappings. DCL has also added a bonus Tuesday evening event this year, as well.
"September is a great time of year to be a craft-brew lover in Colorado," said Kerri Morgan, program and events supervisor at DCL. "The number of stops on our Brew Tour has grown by more than 40 percent since the tour's inception in 2014. We're so fortunate to have such great places in Douglas County to enjoy these specialty brews."
Joining the Brew Tour is free, requires visiting five of the 10 participating breweries during September to complete the Brew Tour passport, and entitles the holder of a completed passport to a commemorative pint glass courtesy of DCL.
Several of the participating breweries will craft special, limited-edition brews to be tapped in September specifically for the library Brew Tour, including a Belgian Dubbel from Elk Mountain Brewing. Library patrons can tap their creativity to help name these brews and win prizes, VIP treatment at the tapping parties, and library fame.
The naming contest is under way on the DCL Facebook page at Facebook.com/DouglasCountyLibrariesColorado through Aug. 28.
The Great Douglas County Brew Tour is Douglas County Libraries' contribution to Outside the Lines, an annual Colorado library-led initiative to reintroduce libraries to their communities in creative and innovative ways.
More than 170 libraries across the globe will participate in Outside the Lines during September.
Participating breweries include:
105 West Brewing Company - 1043 Park St., Castle Rock
Castle Rock Beer Company - 514 Perry St., Castle Rock
Rockyard Brewing Company - 880 Castleton Road, Castle Rock
3 Freaks Brewery - 7140 E. County Line Road, Highlands Ranch
Grist Brewing Company - 9150 Commerce Center Circle, #300, Highlands Ranch
Living the Dream Brewing Company - 12305 N. Dumont Way
Lone Tree Brewing Company - 8200 Park Meadows Drive, #8222, Lone Tree
Barnett & Son Brewing Company - 18425 Pony Express Drive, Parker
Elk Mountain Brewing - 18921 Plaza Drive, Parker
Hall Brewing Company - 10970 S. Parker Road, Parker
Scheduled events include:
Toasted Coconut Brown Ale tapping and Brew Tour kickoff, featuring live music, 6 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 31, at Lone Tree Brewing Company.
Belgian Dubbel tapping and The Chocolate Therapist (beer and chocolate pairing), 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 7, at Elk Mountain Brewing, 18921 Plaza Drive, Parker
Saison tapping and author Ed Sealover ("Colorado Excursions With History, Hikes and Hops"), 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 105 West Brewing Company, 1043 Park St., Castle Rock
Craft(y) brews: Pinterest- and brew-inspired crafts, 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 3 Freaks Brewery, 7140 E. County Line Road., Highlands Ranch
Coffee Stout tapping and author Ed Sealover ("Colorado Excursions With History, Hikes and Hops"), 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 21, at Barnett & Son Brewing Company, 18425 Pony Express Drive, Parker
A tapping to be determined and The Chocolate Therapist (beer and chocolate pairing), 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 28, Living the Dream Brewing Company, 12305 N. Dumont Way, near Highlands Ranch]]>