Head of School Homebase for May 2021
“This year has been a long decade”. – Karen
We keep making that joke over and over again, because it seems so true. We look back at the beginning of this school year and it is hard to believe it was only a few months ago, instead of many years ago.
So much has happened. So much has changed. We begin the year with so few answers, with kids online, and missing so much of that which makes a school year seem fresh with promise. Things like new crayons and notebooks. Shoes that squish our toes after a summer of freedom. Instead, it was Pjs on the bottom and shirts on top while we Zoomed into our classes online. Pancakes, laughter, pets, and books were shared virtually.
Then, one day, we were back in the building. A little worried but a lot excited to see people in 3D once again. To be in person, to walk down the hallways and feel, at least somewhat, like things were normal again.
Suddenly, one day, we woke up and here we were: with daffodils and tents and spring in the air. We Were Here.
In the building!
All together again.
How did we get to the end of the school year…. The world’s longest school year…. So quickly?! The snow is gone, the rain comes and goes, and now our 8th graders are thinking about High School and our kinders can’t wait for first grade!
Now, as we pack away CMAS and brush off the graduation sashes, we come back to a time of reflection. It has been a long year, but we have made it through and find ourselves on the other side.
We are back together, only to depart for another summer, which will pass much too quickly, and once again, we will be here.
A school family.
Welcome to the end of an era. Congratulations, students, staff, and families on all that you have done.
Thank you, Horizons Community. We could not have done it without you!
See you all soon!
Lucas and Karen
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all -…” – Emily Dickenson
Hope. (Not our beloved Hope front office and registrar extraordinaire, this time…)
Every time I think of the word, I think of the Dickenson poem above. It is so easy to imagine the little bird, wings wide, floating onto my shoulder to make me feel ready to take on the day.
I begin today feeling hopeful for many reasons. Among those, the sun is shining, spring feels closer, our teachers are going to get vaccinated, Saturday’s virtual pancake breakfast, children once again in our building, just to name a few.
We have been in-person learning now for a few weeks and there is so much joy in the faces of the kids. They seem more motivated, more eager to learn. There was even a huge amount of excitement over the snack being blueberry muffins, which elicited gleeful singing from a 1/2 class. Teachers and paras have been sharing stories of aha moments and making connections.
Speaking of poetry, I know that I am only one of many people inspired by the spoken word poetry of Amanda Gorman a few weeks ago and that inspiration has created an opportunity for the whole Horizons Community! Our very own Kate Bechtel is creating an exciting poetry project that everyone; kids, adults, families, and community members can take part in and enjoy. Keep on the lookout for that information!
“…Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still, I’ll rise…” – Maya Angelou
Continue to hope, everyone!
Lucas and Karen
With everything going on in the world, it was brought to my attention by someone who helps keep me organized, that I had not created an entry here at The Homebase for quite some time.
That reminder made me think once again about how much we depend on one another for so many aspects of our lives.
We teach students to collaborate with one another and to ask questions when we need help. This is probably the hardest part of education in this era of zoom meetings and social distancing. At Horizons we have always been proud of how well we work together as a team. Whether it is teachers working with teachers, kids working with kids or specialists, or families being a part of the daily workings of our school. These are things that are sorely missed these days. That human connection of looking at people, seeing their whole face, and knowing that we are all there for the same goal of being a part of the school community of learning.
Even though that has been hard and very different from what we are used to and enjoy, I have seen some amazing things happening in the home learning experience. Teachers have become experts in navigating virtual learning, setting up teams, and small groups, and adapting best educational practices to the digital world. I have watched kids play games, take turns, present work, and hold readers workshops all from their own living rooms even though they may be miles away from one another.
The world keeps changing and we keep changing along with it… and next week, we will change again!
Right after Martin Luther King Day, we will return to in-person learning, following the same hybrid schedule that we used before Thanksgiving. We are so eager to see the (partial) faces of children and young adults once again, in the hallways, classrooms, tents, and a few still on screens. With the help and support of our school community, some PPE, patience, and enthusiasm, we are hoping to be back to fully in-person learning as soon as possible. Maybe even following spring break!
We can’t do this alone. We need the collaboration and support of all of our school community members to make it happen. Just like I needed a reminder to update Homebase (Thank you, Hope!), we will all need to support one another and know that we have kids and our school community at the center of our purpose.
For now, stay well, stay positive, wear your mask, and air hug a teacher. See you all in person soon!
Lucas and Karen
Head of School Homebase and Skylines
It is finally fall! Never before has a season taken longer to arrive, especially since summer seems to have lasted at least 3 years.
So much has happened and so much change has occurred. Many of the students are learning from home, but some will soon return to the school, and all of us are wishing we were all back together.
At Horizons, we are taking every precaution to keep our school community safe:
- We have tents for outdoor learning with space heaters and hot spots for wifi.
- We have a plan for active screening as students arrive and social distancing throughout the day.
- We are following cohort guidelines and have made our small class sizes even smaller with more educators with each group.
However, we NEED your support as well:
- If your student will be returning to in person learning this week, please remember to fill the COVID questionnaire BEFORE you leave the house.
- Please make sure that students wear a mask and understand the importance of wearing it.
- Know that if we call you because your student is not feeling well, you need to have them picked up as soon as possible.
- If your student, or someone in your close contact (family, household, etc.) becomes ill and is positive for COVID, please let us know immediately and follow the quarantine guidelines.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and it takes one to keep a school community safe as well.
Throughout all of this we continue to welcome new members to our staff to help guide and support our students through the beginning of this new adventure.
We want to welcome:
Peter our Middle School Special Educator
Meagan our ¾ para with Emmy
Jannell our ¾ para with Mia
Cindy our ⅚ para with Lynn
Drew our ⅚ para with Rachel and K2 Enrichment assistant
Carlye our ⅚ para with Annie
Alice our K2 Enrichment assistant
Head of School Home Base for August 2020
In the story of Alice in Wonderland, a dreamy eyed young girl follows her curiosity and tumbles into a magical world. She has all sorts of adventures while she is there. Sometimes she is delighted by what she encounters. Other times she is frightened and her emotions overwhelm her, but somehow she finds friends, discovers courage, and comes home, safe and sound.
This spring and summer for 2020 have felt a lot like the craziness of Wonderland to me:
Something unexpected occurs, we learn from it, we move on, and right around the corner we are met with another weird challenge !
The biggest one for us here at Horizons K8, the Jabberwock of 2020….. Starting the School Year in the Time of COVID. Its face is invisible, its moves are unpredictable, and we don’t know how to communicate with it.
Thankfully, we have everything that Alice had and then some to help us get past this creature. We have a dedicated group of teachers who are tenacious, resourceful, and creative. We have fearless custodians, wielding the weapons needed to keep our building safe. Our Administration team is fast and nimble and is equipped with the ability to translate and communicate with the confusing beast. Best of all, we have the students and families, who are ready to meet the challenges, thrive in the adventure, and learn along the way.
Just like Alice, we will tumble into this year, brush ourselves off, lean on our friends, depend on our community, and learn something along the way.
We will begin our journey this year with Home Learning. Our teachers and paras will be our guides as we travel to unexplored areas, communicating from a distance, but always knowing we can reach out with questions. Lessons will be taught remotely, through the looking glass of our Chromebooks. In September, we will revisit this and see if it will be wise to move on to the next chapter and come back to our building.
This Year’s Adventure is Just Beginning!
Thank you for being part of the Horizons K8 Community! Now let’s explore this Wonderland together!
See you all soon!
-Lucas and Karen
In the past several emails that I’ve sent to you, I have typed the words “Horizons Community”. As I’ve typed these two words, I’ve often wondered who I meant.
Here is, who I believe, the Horizons Community encompasses:
- Students: you are the lifeblood of Horizons. We serve you and help you navigate your hopes, fears, and dreams. We are committed to help you work through childhood and early adulthood. We are here for you- in good times and bad. We will prepare you for the future and provide you with the academic and social/emotional skills necessary to make the world a better place. This is our commitment to you.
- Parents/Guardians: you are the mentors and caretakers of our students. You provide love and guidance that shape our students’ world. We could not do our work without you.
- Teachers and Staff: you not only provide our students with rich and relevant academic experiences but also provide them with the social and emotional skills they need to be successful and ultimately, thrive. We are forever indebted to you for your service.
- Siblings: you probably don’t know it, but you have a huge impact on the students of Horizons. You model behavior, love, and care for our students- whether you are an older or younger sibling.
- Grandparents, Great Grandparents, Aunts/Uncles, Cousins & other family members: you impart wisdom and provide our students with love and compassion.
- Friends: you are always there for the students and families of Horizons. We are indebted to you for the unconditional support you provide to our families.
- Neighbors, Faith Groups, Community Organizations- you coach, mentor, and advise our students. Your contribution to our community is greatly appreciated and we look forward to continuing to support and work with you in the future.
So, when we talk about the “Horizons Community”, we should think about all of these groups that are an integral part of our students’ lives.
You all are a part of the Horizons Community!
Horizons K8 Board of Directors statement regarding the recent tragic events in our country
The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others from the Black community are on the minds and in the hearts of the entire Horizons community. Their lives have been taken by racially motivated violence and brutality. The systemic racism and white supremacy that besets our country, communities, and institutions continue to exist.
We know that the Black community is suffering, as are members of the Horizons community. Horizons seeks to integrate social justice, equity, and cultural responsiveness into all of our programming. As a community, we won’t stand for white supremacy or any other systemic oppression. Our work is to see and acknowledge that systems of oppression are real and to actively seek to dismantle them in all forms so that we leave a better world for our children.
Horizons will continue to work toward providing a safe, inclusive, and equitable environment for our employees, families, and students. In addition, please find resources surrounding these issues below. We are stronger together!
The Horizons Board of Directors
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in ’t!
- Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act One, Scene Five
We truly are entering into a Brave New World of education right now. With a pandemic in our midst, technology as our windows, and plastic gloves on our hands. Thankfully this world contains the “beauteous” creatures: our students, families, educators, and community that makes Horizons K8 so wonderful.
All over the country, teachers are modifying how they teach and students are changing the way they learn. Computers are the new white boards, Zoom and Google Classroom are allowing students and teachers to see and interact with one another. Learning is still happening, but we are at the mercy of wifi and the limits of technology.
This is where the beauty of humanity comes in: Families exercising patience with our new systems and a willingness to learn alongside their students. Our teaching faculty, with their passion and hearts overflowing with missing their students and longing to be back in the classrooms. Our custodial staff, making sure that the building is clean and ready for when we can return. Most of all, our students, bringing their joy and energy to Home Learning, while still wide eyed and eager as always to discover.
We are so grateful for you all, our HK8 Community. Thank you!
Please reach out to us if we can help support you all in this Brave New World!
Be Well and Wash Your Hands!
-Lucas and Karen
It is March! We are in the home stretch of the school year with mere months to go. As we near Spring Break, we look forward to finding some down time. Maybe we are planning a trip to an exotic location, or perhaps plans include being home and getting things done around the house. Either way, make sure that you include some time to “PLAY”. Play is defined in many ways, but the truly important points are that time spent playing means:
- It is done for its own sake and has no apparent purpose.
- It is not required by duty.
- It is fun and makes you happy.
- You lose sense of time.
- You stop worrying about what you look like.
- You want to keep on doing it!
(Credit to Stuart Brown and his book, Play How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.)
At Horizons we make sure that students get a chance to play every single day. We are one of the few schools around that has three recesses. That’s right! Three times a day, students are encouraged to go outside in the Colorado sunshine and play with abandon! Run! Use imagination! Slide, swing, tumble, build, climb, talk, sing…. You name it!
Jealous? You should be! Adults often forget to allow themselves time to play. Give yourself the same permission, at least once a day where you can PLAY. Spring Break is around the corner and a perfect time to try it out. Find something that makes you happy and, in the immortal words of Nike, Just Do It!
Enjoy your March and take time to PLAY!
February is the time of year where people tend to get stuck. The holidays are over. Many of us have abandoned the good intentions of our New Year Resolutions. The weather here in Colorado is as unpredictable as a teething toddler. How will we survive until spring? The answer: Give in to Curiosity.
“Learners embrace their naturally curious disposition and view obstacles and challenges as opportunity for growth. Any time we ask ourselves, What can I learn form this moment? From this challenge? Our perception of the experience changes.” – Elena Aguilar.
Curiosity is the reason why babies eyes are so wide, why children soak up ideas and knowledge, why that sudden light of “AH HA!” sparkles in the eyes of a student. Curiosity is why the Wright Brothers didn’t give up. After the first flight on December 17th, 1903, they spent the rest of the winter asking how they could do it better next time.
We can all experience that Ah Ha! Aguilar tells us, “When you are curious, you are open to ideas and you pursue solutions…. That is what resilient people do…”. As parents and teachers we encourage out of the box thinking and solution finding in our students. We encourage that excitement that comes with tackling a hard problem, or solving a puzzle, but we don’t always remember to let ourselves have that same experience. This month, as we trudge through the last weeks of winter, political debate, or that task we know we should not put off anymore, give yourself the encouragement and the freedom that we always try to envelop our students in. Let your curiosity flow and encourage it in others.
(Then let’s post some pictures of the 3/4s at the Lego exhibit….
Caption: The 3/4s were curious as to just how many Legos it took to build the entire CU Campus!)
When you go to the Optometrist and have your eyes checked, you are hoping that you can be told that you have 20/20 Vision. If you cannot reach that state of perfection naturally, you work with experts to find a way to see as clearly as possible.
We have noticed the same thing is true when starting a new school year. When we came in this summer, the building was not open, the construction crews were still here and there were fences up all over. We had to wear hard hats to walk around. It was difficult to see what the school would look like when it was finished. We let the crew work on the building and we went to work on the rest of the stuff.
Together we talked to our experts: the families, teachers, office team, paras, board members, and BVSD folks, to help us get prepared for the school year.
Then, school started. We met the students, watched classrooms in action, and built relationships. Art was being created, songs were being sung, projects were being tested, and books were being read.
Suddenly it was winter break and we all went home. We had time to reflect and refresh.
Coming back today is like putting on glasses for the first time. The school year is so much clearer! We have a better knowledge of our community, the students, the families, the teachers. We have completed our Charter Renewal paperwork. Our Vision of what makes Horizons so incredible is so much clearer now. We will continue to work with our experts to make it even sharper and come even further into focus as the year continues on.
So, we want to welcome you to the year 2020… may your vision of the future be just as clear!
It is December. The air is crisp, the hills are covered in snow, kids are getting sick… Yep. It is definitely that time of year. However, it is also a time of giving, kindness, and reflection. Inquiry is a big part of Horizons and our community is looking at how we fit in our world and how we can make it an even better place. Our students have been engaged in “Learning Lunches” where they hear about people in our community and in our world that might be different than they are. So far we have learned from OASOS about gender identity and differences. This inspired our students to start ALLY organizations. We have heard from Benjamin who taught our community about life with Autism and tips on how to make friends. This offered us all a new perspective on how to be a friend and make a friend with someone who might see the world just a little differently. This month, we heard from Elizabeth King who shared her experiences of teaching around the world and a video called, “On the Way to School” about a boy in Bangladesh and his daily one-hour and fifteen-minute journey to school. These opportunities are brought to our Horizons by our counselor, Sherry Davis, and our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, led by Erica Baruch. They offer our students a completely different view of the world around them through the eyes of others. It is a unique gift that our community is lucky to have.
Speaking of gifting, Horizons enjoyed an incredibly successful Artastic Fair this month. This event brought artisans from all over to share and sell their amazing pieces with our community. The sales benefited our school and event offered these artists the opportunity to be better known for their talents. In addition, our 5/6 students in Lynn’s class hosted a bake sale to support Save the Children. Other ⅚ students have been serving food at Community Table, giving them an opportunity to connect with marginalized folks.
In addition, we have had a Coat Drive and a Toy Drive that our Horizons families have hosted. Our 3 & 4-grade students will actually be taking donated gifts to Share-A-Gift and sorting and organizing for community service.
Finally, our Diplomats are raising money to support a school in Denver that wants to host a book fair and give books to the students who have never had that opportunity before. So much is going on here at Horizons… Learning, Kindness, Giving, and New Perspectives… and there is so much to celebrate this season. Enjoy your Holiday Break!
Whoops! Time got away from us and we let October slip by! So much has been going on, it has been hard to keep up! Thanks to all the hard work of our Diplomats, we have enjoyed our Fall Dance, which was a HUGE success! Peace Jam supported a Trick or Treat for Unicef. We had our Student Led Conferences, where families, teachers, and students were able to share all of the great work kids have done and set goals for the rest of the year. Thank you to our parents who fed our teachers well the whole week! Sherry has teamed up with OASES to start an Ally Club in 5-8th grade. In the front office, we have been working hard to get our Charter Renewal completed in plenty of time… And of course there has been lots and lots of learning being done in our school!
What does November have in store for us? There are so many ways that you can be involved in the Horizons Community! A Diversity and Inclusion meeting as well as 8th Grade High School Transition meeting on the 7th. There will be Open-Enrollment dates on the 12th and 19th. The Board meets on the 14th and Council meets on the 21st.
Then, we are all off for the week of the 25th to celebrate Thanksgiving. This is Karen’s favorite holiday of the whole year. It is a time that we can all slow down, take a break and really enjoy those people and things in our lives that make it all worth while. Anyone can take advantage of this season. You don’t have to be part of any particular belief system or people group to express gratitude. We don’t even have to connect it to any point in history. We can just enjoy the beautiful world around us and give thanks to one another for being part our our lives. Plus, there is food! 🙂
We are both extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Horizons Community. Thank you all for being who you are and for sharing your students with us every day!
Happy Season of Thanksgiving, Everyone!
Lucas and Karen
Welcome to September, Horizons Families!
September 20, 2019
Dear Horizons Community! Today many of our students participated in The Climate Strike. Our 7/8 students were inspired by current events and wanted to do something to help stop climate change. The students themselves designed the event, created the posters, wrote the speeches, practiced and taught the chants. They even created and delivered lessons to the younger grades. Together, the students who chose to participate walked from the school to the shopping center down the road. They were greeted by cheers and the supportive honking of horns. This moment was all theirs, a celebration and a call to action in one. We could not be prouder of them all.
-Lucas and Karen
September 16, 2019
Fall is in the air and our students are knee-deep in the business of learning! Many of our students have left for outdoor education opportunities, others will be taking to the hills later in the month. Small groups and clubs have been meeting to discover how they can make change in the school, community, and the world. Classrooms are abuzz with the sounds of conversation, healthy debate, and deep thinking questions.
September is indeed an exciting time of change, growth, and reflection. It is also a time of community building and partnership. In that spirit, we invite families to come and be part of the excitement at Horizons by engaging in our Council and Chili Cook-off on September 19th. Meet other Horizons families, chat with Lucas and Karen, enjoy the bounty offered by a warm bowl of homemade goodness… and a little friendly competition.
We hope to see you all there!
Lucas and Karen
Hello Horizons Families and Welcome to a Wonderful New school Year! After a summer of construction and chaos, our school building is feeling fresh and clean and ready to be filled with open minds and open hearts.
Teachers have been here since Monday when they were finally able to begin work on their classrooms. Saturday we will have our Horizons Work Day from 1-4 and Monday we will open our doors to our students and a new year of learning and growing together.
Until then, enjoy the sunshine and the last days of summer vacation!
See you all soon!
Lucas and Karen
An End of Year Message from Lucas & Karen
Welcome to the end of a school year that started off a little late and ended up stranger than fiction.
When Lucas and Karen started last summer, the building was still under construction and we couldn’t really see what it truly looked like. We held our offices in a different school and learned to work remotely. (Who knew that those skills would serve us so well in the end.) Gradually the school opened up and the school year began. It became clear to us how wonderful Horizons K8 truly was.
Having teachers and students in the building made it light up. We watched as students began their thinking and learning and you could almost hear the hum. It was magical!
Students and teachers, unconfined to desks and rooms, learned all over the place. On the floor, in the halls, the nook, the playground, the park….
Then, one day the world just seemed to change. We went home, and home we stayed. This was our new place to learn and the way we did it changed too. We wondered, will this change the way that students learn and teachers teach?
Thankfully, at Horizons we teach students to think differently; way outside of the box, to always ask questions, and how to refine the art of problem solving. In order to do that, our master problem solvers – our teachers -got to work and found ways to bring a love of learning to our students that might not have been the same, but were still engaging and meaningful. Although we might be remote, we are never far from the heart of our community.
Although our youngest students often look up to us as all-knowing (a feeling that tends to wear off as they grow as tall as we are), just like you we don’t know what the future will hold. What we do know, is that no matter what, we will be back at school in one way or another in the fall. There will be more joy, more learning, more laughter, and more adventure ahead of us, here at Horizons K8.
Have a wonderful summer. Stay safe. Be well. See you all soon!
Lucas and Karen