Jeffco schools celebrate excellence at award ceremony

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By Emile Hallez

Hundreds of students, teachers and family members packed the Lakewood High School auditorium April 21 for the school district’s annual Celebration of Excellence.


More than a few South Jeffco faculty members and students were honored during the program, which also featured awards delivered by Deer Creek Middle School students Matt Thieu and Reagan Weber, as well as Sheriff Ted Mink.

“Our numbers show that we are making great progress,” said district Superintendent Cindy Stevenson, noting that about 80 percent of all Jeffco Public Schools students graduate from high school.

The program opened with a gymnastics performance by Colorow Elementary students, assisted by coach Fred Gonzales, who supported the kids as they sprung backward, executing handsprings and tumbles that elicited applause.

Among the most unexpected recipients of accolade was a four-legged volunteer at Columbine Hills Elementary. Principal Connie Brasher, volunteer Doris Hammer, Quinn Silco and Ramblin’, a hefty Labrador, were honored for their contributions to the school’s Silent Reading Partners program.

Ramblin’ went to school with former student Silco, whom the dog aided with physical support. Silco became able to walk and stand well unaided, but Ramblin’ ended up returning to Columbine Hills, where students read to him.

“It’s pretty great,” Silco said of the program, in which sometimes-nervous students can practice their oral reading skills before a nonjudgmental partner. “She loves it.”

Columbine High student Dao Than was honored in the Equity and Excellence Art Exhibit category. Than fabricated a cultural-fusion dress that incorporated aspects of Asian and American style, trimmed with colorful paper cranes.

The Dakota Ridge High football team also made an appearance on the stage, waving pastel gloves. The players wore pink gloves during the season for the Real Football Players Wear Pink program in support of breast cancer research.

Also recognized was Normandy Elementary teacher Jewely Del Duca, who was given a teaching resilience award. Del Duca stayed in the classroom following a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis and remained in her job during treatment. She has since been cancer-free, Stevenson said.

Thieu and Weber presented West Metro Fire Rescue’s 911 Hero lifesaving award to nurse Kris Crower, parent Wendy Witucki and Deer Creek teachers Jenny White, Jacqueline Adkins and Lori Saueracker.

Mink and members of the Sheriff’s Office honored responders to February’s shooting at Deer Creek Middle School, handing out medals to principal Rob Hoover, teachers David Benke and Norm Hanne, assistant principal Becky Brown, bus drivers Steve Potter and Jim O’Brien, electrician Bolton Fourie and parents Jeffrey Aldridge and Daniel Green.


Contact Emile Hallez Williams at emile@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22. For updates, check www.ColumbineCourier.com.