Blue Heron Elementary crows about 7th birthday: First class of kindergartners moving on to middle school

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By AJ Vicens

Most of the children knew what was going on as the giant chicken approached their classroom.

"It's the birthday bird!" they shouted, knowing they were about to rattle off answers to school trivia questions.

How many students attended Blue Heron Elementary the first year it opened? Their answer: 150.

How many attend now? Answer: 450.

How many books are in the library? Answer: 10,000.

How many pizzas does the school serve on pizza day? Answer: 36

The students have been studying fun facts about their school for two weeks, knowing that May 21 was the day they'd celebrate the school's seventh birthday. The birthday chicken and two parents from the school's spirit committee gave each each student a bottle of bubbles to play with after class for answering the questions correctly.

Sixth-grade teacher Jason Haberkorn was one of the original teachers at the school and said it was a neat feeling to know that the school's original kindergarten class will be completing sixth grade May 27 and moving on to middle school.

"It's pretty crazy," Haberkorn said. "It's crazy to think that everything they know, we know they learned in this building." He added that he's known a lot of his students for years, and he's been able to watch them grow and get to know their families.

"This school still has that small-town feel to it," he said.

Kyle Iverson and Hailey Roberts are two of Haberkorn's sixth-grade students, and both were part of the school's original kindergarten class.

"It's pretty crazy how fast time flies," Hailey said, adding that she remembers when there was a large dirt area where her school now stands.

"It's pretty cool that I've been here since kindergarten," Kyle said. "Back then, there were only like 150 students, and there were all these empty classrooms."

Hailey said she'll miss her time at Blue Heron as she heads on to Summit Ridge Middle School.

"I have some pretty awesome memories that I'll take from here, though," she said. "It'll be fun to remember all the teachers. (Moving to middle school) is pretty stressful, but I'm looking forward to having lockers and the new teachers. But I'll come back to visit."

Kyle said he's excited about moving on to middle school but doubts he'll have a teacher "as cool as Mr. Haberkorn."

Kyle added that he enjoys the quirky traditions at Blue Heron, like the birthday chicken — a parent dressed in a chicken suit donated from Le Peep restaurant. But he found it odd that the parent wasn't dressed up as a blue heron.

"I think they just didn't have a blue heron costume," Kyle joked.

"That's true," said Joseph Turnage, who has been the school's principal for three years. The school was able to procure a chicken costume, so a theme was developed around the chicken.

"We like to think of the school as an egg that hatched, and now all the kids are growing up," Turnage said.

Turnage said the seventh birthday celebration of Blue Heron is just another example of the strong community foundation for the school, which is located at 5987 W. Dorado Drive.

"This is all part of our tremendous parent program," Turnage said. "The (Parent Teacher Association) has given us financial support but also countless parent hours. I've never seen parents as involved as the ones here. As a principal, it's a delight."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.