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Altona Middle First Semester Reflection and Accomplishments

Dear Altona Families and Students,

Our students, teachers, and staff have worked extremely hard over the course of this semester. I am exceptionally proud of their character, service, leadership, and scholarship and I want to thank our whole community for your support.  

Every day, I am impressed by the instruction and learning happening in each classroom.  Our students and staff have truly demonstrated the Altona Pillars of Pride, Innovation, Grit, Leadership, Excellence, and Teamwork. 

We have a great deal to recognize over the past five months.  Here are some of the amazing accomplishments from this semester:

iReady Results– The median growth for our students on their Math iReady test was 77%. This means that our students have grown over ¾’s of a year in only half of a year’s time. The median growth for our students on their Reading iReady test was 100%. This means that our students have grown a whole year in only half a year’s time. Outstanding!  This is a true testament to the solid instruction occurring across all of our Science, Social Studies, Math, Language Arts and Elective classes.  

Mr. Cleveland Smith – One of our amazing 6th grade language arts teachers was recognized in October with the Stapp Educator Inspires Award.  Basically, this means Mr. Smith won the teacher of the month award for all of St. Vrain.

Mrs. Trisha King – Another rock star teacher in 8th grade language arts, received the Innovative Curriculum Award from the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Assessment, for the rigorous and choice-based learning that happens in her classroom.

W.E.B. – This year our WEB program, Where Everybody Belongs, made the transition from a club to an 8th grade elective class. As such, our WEB leaders have had quite a few accomplishments in helping our school be the best we can be. In quarter one, WEB ran our annual 6th grade Orientation Day to kick off the year and Spirit Week for the Rattler Run! It was incredibly enjoyable, and a good experience for learning about leadership!

In quarter two, they started a campaign to help keep our campus clean by picking up trash around the campus. These student leaders even made a PSA video for our teachers to show to their LEAD classes to inform students about the effects of having too much trash on our campus as well as sharing strategies to help keep our campus pristine. 

Green Star School and WEB – Please check out the Green Star Schools newsletter and see the awesome work our WEB leaders do weekly to support our Green Star program.

W.E.B. has been a great class for any 8th graders who want to get more involved with our school and learn about leadership!

NJHS – Altona NJHS members have volunteered over 230 hours in the community so far this year. In addition, students sold Candy Grams to support EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa) Awareness and provided breakfast for teacher appreciation after conferences. The 74 members are dedicated to their academics and developing their leadership while serving the community. 

Student Council- Student Council planned the first ever outdoor social and it was a hit for our students Students had a great time and it was nice to have planned a special event for our students. In addition, StuCo just wrapped up our Canned Food Drive by collecting and donating the equivalent of 4566 cans through physical items and monetary donations. All items and money were donated to the local Community Food Share serving Boulder and Broomfield counties.

Fall Concerts Return – One of the many reasons Altona is an exceptional school is due to our tremendous music program. We had standing room only concerts for choir, band and orchestra and our students did not disappoint. We had families from across the country log in to view our live stream concerts and they were fantastic!  

Band – Band classes have been working hard learning new music. We enjoyed our first full in-person concert in November, which was super exciting. Results of two honor bands were recently released. We are proud of Elsa Wirkkanen, Alex Smirnov, Maya Seiss, Kameron Sam, Anthony Ivan, Ellen Wilson, Payton Martin, and Ian Heckman for being selected for St. Vrain District Honor band. Additionally, Elsa Wirkkanen, Ember Waterman, and Trevor Titus were selected for CU Honor band, which is a state-wide ensemble (much more difficult process).  We are also looking forward to Altona’s Jazz Band performance at Dicken’s Opera House on Dec. 13 (the first such event in over two years). 

Choir – Students in AMS Choir have been growing musically even while wearing masks. Altona had 7 students selected for SVV Honor Choir (Nevaeh Aguilar, Cameron Churchich, Lex Lomanov, Gavin McIntire, Dia O’Brien, Miles Shaw, and Sophie Smock) and 4 students selected for All-State Choir (Hailey Donahue, Gavin McIntire, Harley Reedy, and Miles Shaw). Additionally, choir students are singing music from different time periods, in different languages, and from different cultures. We are proud of the student progress so far this year. 

Orchestra – We have an awesome group of beginning orchestra students and Mrs. Fischaber believes they are some of the best that we have ever seen. Also, 31 of our students made it into this years’ District Honor Orchestra. It feels so good to have students in front of us making music together!

Intramurals – 88/94/57/40 – These are the numbers of students who participated in Volleyball, Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball and Cross Country.  279 students (35% of our student body) engaged in intramural sports this semester.  These opportunities were not available to students last year. The first two intramural teams had great seasons. The volleyball and boys basketball travel teams had a pretty tough schedule but did well against the competition. We also hosted our own in-house games with a new format and all the participants had a great time playing. Everyone learned a lot and had a great deap of fun. We are off to a great start with the girls basketball program here at Altona and we are excited about the upcoming wrestling and track seasons.

MATHCOUNTS club is regularly attended each Friday morning from 7:30-8:15 AM by more than thirty students who are eager to engage in solving challenging math and logic problems.  We discuss and present solutions to these problems, munching donuts all the while.  We will be conducting a school contest in January as we prepare for the Boulder Chapter Contest in February.  Altona has a history of competing strongly at the Chapter level and often sending students to compete at the State Contest and even the National Contest.

IDEALab – Students have been engaged in all sorts of design thinking and project based learning this semester in our IDEALab.  Please check out a few of the highlights here

Fantastic First Annual Rattler Run – We kicked off the school year with a very successful Rattler Run and Raise Up. Students had a blast at the Run and additionally sliming the principals at the party. We raised over $45,000 and we have already purchased furniture, curriculum, skateboard racks, picnic tables, whiteboards, robotics equipment and more. We are in the process of purchasing a new projector for the Rattlers Den and a sound system for the gym.  

Computer Science – We have had many notable achievements in our classes, and Dr. Vu wanted to highlight one in particular. It is core to her teaching philosophy that students can be driven problem-solvers when given an opportunity. Recently, one such event occurred in our CyberArt class when students, using the Design Thinking process and TinkerCAD software, were able to fashion iPad stylus holders for convenient storage, solving a long-time problem for our Math Department. Going forward, we are going to share our design on Thingiverse so that any teacher who might have similar issues can print them out for their students.

Robotics Competition – We have been able to bring back competitive robotics for our students.  In their first-ever competition, the Mechanical Mountains team were named tournament champions at the Westview Vex competition.  We are working to develop a sustainable plan for enhancing robotics at our school.

Staff Updates

We are saying goodbye to some of our beloved staff members and we want to wish them well in their next chapter in life.  We are also very fortunate to find some very talented people to join our team.

School Resource Officer Scott Pierce is retiring from the Longmont Police Department. Scott has served for 37 years with the police department, with 15 of those years working as an SRO.  Our new School Resource Officer is Officer Jon Laundy.  

Carly Martin, who has been an amazing art teacher for us over the past 7 years, is moving on.  Emma Graham, who has been teaching halftime art for us, will be taking over as our full time visual arts teacher for the second semester. We have also hired Olivia Martinez to teach halftime art for the second semester.

Liz Wolford, who has been teaching language arts for Altona for the past 7 years, is changing careers.  We are excited to have Sarah Backus join us for the second semester to teach 8th grade language arts and literacy.

Lexie Sparks, who has been a language arts and physical education teacher at Altona for the past 10 years, is relocating out of state.  We are excited to announce Payton Garcia as our new PE teacher.  

I want to wish all of our families a wonderful and safe Winter Break. Our office will open on Monday, January 3rd. We look forward to seeing students back in the building, ready to conquer the second semester, on Wednesday, January 5th, 2022.

Have a great break the Altona Way,

Mr. LaCrosse, Principal

Altona Middle School