Last day of school, for good, on Glade Park

Photos by CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON/The Daily Sentinel—Students play baseball at Glade Park Community School on Wednesday, the last day of the school year. Starting in the fall, Glade Park students will attend schools in the Grand Valley. Backers and board members of the school decided to close it after four years because of declining enrollment and the prospect of reduced state funding. BELOW: Art teacher Linda Bratman-Evans paints the face of student Brooke Williams during the celebration.

For the first time in four years, Steve Miller won’t hear the smile-inducing sound of children laughing this August outside Glade Park Community School.

That’s because the 19 children who attended the school until its last day Wednesday will make the long trek down Colorado National Monument to go to schools in the Grand Valley next year. The school’s board and backers decided this spring to close the school after enrollment projections showed they likely wouldn’t have enough students and coinciding state funding to keep the school running.

Miller, who has lived on Glade Park for nearly 40 years, volunteered at the school making repairs while his wife, Bobbi, occasionally taught the kindergarten through fourth-graders at the school Spanish.

“It’s been four wonderful years” since the school opened in a two-room modular at 16250 DS Road, Miller said. “Because it’s the end of the year and there’s always summer vacation, we’ll see (students) at the Glade Park movie nights, but when September comes around, it’ll be different.”

The laughter Miller cherishes was prevalent Wednesday as students celebrated the end of the school year with a game of baseball and a lunch of hot dogs and treats. Third-grader Jake Stephens, 9, has attended the school since kindergarten. He said he’ll miss the small class sizes and outdoor time next year when he’s at Wingate Elementary.

“Our teacher let us have snowball fights,” he said.

Third-grade classmate Guin Lenhart, also 9, said she’ll miss going to school with her neighbors.

“I feel pretty sad because we’re leaving. My favorite thing was having friends here,” she said.

School Principal and second- through fourth-grade teacher Maggie Cason said it was always her dream to teach in her community of Glade Park. She lived that dream for one year before the school closed.

“It’s very sad because this school is awesome for this community,” Cason said. “It’s what makes this community. There’s nothing holding us all together here anymore.”

Glade Park moms Tree Humbert, Karyn Bechtel, Diane Branham and Karen Foster founded the school in 2009 with the hopes of giving Glade Park elementary students a school close to home with a nature-centered curriculum. The school lost its funding two years later when District 51 sliced its budget. The founders and school boosters banded together for an extensive application process to make the school a charter institution. The effort paid off. The school remained open for another two years.

Humbert and Bechtel have since moved. Branham, who has two children at the school, said Wednesday the mission of the school worked, there just weren’t enough children enrolled to make it work at this time. She believes the school’s closure won’t mean the end of education in the small community atop the monument.

“There were 12 schools before us. This is just one chapter. There will be another group of parents who want to educate their kids on Glade Park,” Branham said.


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