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School year brings about change, hope

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By Michael Hicks

Today — Thursday, Aug. 17 — is the first day of school in Jefferson County, and my wife and I know it all too well. Goodbye, sleeping in until the weekend comes.
OK, it’s not that bad. I don’t get that much sleep as it is. But with two school-aged children — one still in elementary school and another a year away from high school (gulp!) — the next nine months will be an assortment of running around to get kids to and from where they need to be, juggling homework assignments and finding that work-life balance.
This school year, maybe more than any other in recent memory, is one of change in our household. Not since my oldest son, who graduated from Pomona High in Arvada in 2014, transferred into Colorado public schools from North Carolina in 2008, has one of my children undergone a forced change of scenery in their education development. Sure, the kids have been promoted from one school to another, be it preschool to elementary or middle school to high school. But this time, it was a necessitated move for the better of the child.
You see, one of my children — my middle child — is a gifted-and-talented student. Last year, his first in middle school, was not all was hoped it would be. There were ups and downs and challenges because, in my opinion, his needs as a gifted-and-talented student weren’t completely met. That was, in part, because the school he was attending didn’t offer a specific gifted-and-talented curriculum and partially because he didn’t adapt to the surroundings.
This year, he’ll be attending one more year of middle school — at another school — that has a gifted-and-talented structure to it. Then it’s off to high school, where the real challenge awaits. But first things first, let’s get through this year.
And, quite frankly, I’m glad this year he will be in a gifted-and-talented program. I can say this as I, for one, was elated when Jeffco Schools passed its 2017-18 budget back on May 4 to the tune of $951 million, which included using previously unforeseen state funding to partially fund the gifted-and-talented program. The district had previously considered eliminating resources for the program. That, in itself, was met with backlash from parents, especially the possible closure of the program at Wheat Ridge High School.
Next year, my son most likely will be attending Wheat Ridge. Hopefully, he’ll be there for four years.
This move doesn’t come without a little bit of disappointment. As it stands now, my two youngest children won’t be in the same school ever again. They only would’ve enjoyed one year — a year of high school— together because of their three-year age gap, but at least it would’ve been that one year. But that’s the least of our concerns. For now, it’s about both of them heading back to school this week and making the most of the opportunities in front of them. I hope they will.
Welcome back to school, kids. Let’s make it a successful 2017-18 school year.

Michael Hicks is editor of Evergreen Newspapers. He may be reached at 303-350-1039 or via e-mail at mhicks@evergreenco.com.