Here comes the Sun

By:Mychael Dennis

Wednesdays are special days here at Valley School. Students get the freedom to connect, explore and have fun together. On Wednesday, August 30th, students got the chance to try paddle boarding for the first time! Science teacher Mr. Giesenhagen, and history teacher, Mrs. Shaver, worked together to make this rare experience come to life. Mr. Giesenhagen has a connection with the CMU outdoor club, and they gave us a generous deal of renting the boards for just $2 a piece. What a cheap and rare deal! Ten lucky students took advantage of the rare school field trip and participated.

We all set off to Highline Lake on a full bus in our swimsuits ready to go. As soon as we got there, we had to put in some work before the fun! Students and teachers all worked together in pumping up the paddle boards and setting the adventure up. Ten paddle boards ready to go, and ten students full of anticipation. Off we went!

It was a beautiful day, perfect for paddle boarding. We even got the whole entire lake all to ourselves. Students gradually made their way into the water, nervous, curious, and ready to give it their all. At first everyone was skeptical about standing up on the board, but next thing we knew, everybody was trying to do headstands on them! Standing up, falling into the water, there was laughter and cheers all around us. Complete harmony and bliss with the sun beaming down; the water came to life with pure excitement. There was a  contagious connection of ecstasy. You  could feel it in the air. The perfect day had let us know that life doesn’t have to always be all that serious. Students challenged themselves, went out of their comfort zones, and hopefully left Highline with a little more confidence in themselves and one another.

Paddle boarding is also a great workout. It uses every muscle in the body during the fun; we felt it the next day! It also reduces stress with the water naturally soothing the body, and all the calming sounds the water produces will melt all the negativity in life away. And best of all, it allowed us to connect with nature. Engaging with nature has a positive effect on mental health and attitude along with some extra vitamin D from the sun.

Fun Facts

Paddle boarding has existed in one form or another for thousands of years. African Warriors stood up in dugout canoes and used their spears as paddles to move into enemy territory soundlessly. For nearly 3,000 years, Peruvian fisherman used a craft called “Caballitos de Totora”, a small craft made of reeds. It is called this because its instability made it like riding a horse. They used a long  bamboo shaft somewhat like an elongated kayak paddle, and after a day’s fishing they would surf the waves just for fun. In fact, it’s quite possible that this is the true roots of all surfing, let alone stand up surfing. It’s hard to know when modern stand up paddleboarding really began. To do so, you’d have to define exactly what it is and confine it to a certain style or arena. Paddle boarding defies strict definition, leaving its early roots as elusive as its modern surge.

Highline Lake Paddleboarding Video

How Valley School Operates

        By:Katie Fain

Valley School is an extremely unique environment and unique program; no other school in the Grand Valley operates as we do. The way students earn credit is as unique as the school itself. Each student works at their own pace and is encouraged to do their very best by the staff. Our credit system is run with fractions, one credit is made of eight artifacts. A quarter credit is when the artifacts are completed and the student understand the subject. An artifact is typically notes on your topic, a diagram explaining a real world problem and how we can all take part in solving it, or possibly a timeline explaining the events leading up to a civil rights movement and why that civil rights movement had to take place for society to improve and grow. Keep in mind that Valley does not work like a traditional school; when a student earns a credit it is added to their transcript (It is not tied to time limits such as semesters). When a credit is earned, it is mentioned and celebrated in the Monday morning meeting in Mr.Giesenhagen’s (Mr.G as he is known to the students) classroom.

How the schedule works is pretty special as well; most students spend either the morning or afternoon at Valley. For example, if you are a morning kid you arrive in the morning to coffee freshly brewed and the staff asking how your night was, how you had slept, etc.

If it is a Monday, the students are herded into Mr.G’s room for weekly announcements and our weekly motivational metaphor from Mrs.Krick. After the meeting we are ushered to our classes where we will spend the next hour and 30 minutes working to complete artifacts and earn credit.

When our first class ends, we get a fifteen minute break where we can buy snacks, discuss plans and goals with teachers or just chill and talk with our friends.

After the break, we head to our next class and work for another hour and a half. At 11 o:clock we are dismissed to leave in our cars or wait for the buses. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays the schedule is the same just without the morning meeting. But Wednesdays are a different beast on its own because there are so many different options on what you can do with your time. You can stay home and sleep, you can come in and do work,or do some yoga and learn how to bake in microwaves with Mrs.Hough. You can even go on a field trip with one of the other teachers.


Valley is an amazing place, the teachers and staff care for the students here. In a society like ours where minors are not given a voice, there are those of us who do need to scream and strain to be heard. Valley gives us that opportunity. At Valley we don't need to scream or strain or be anything we’re not. The teachers and staff respect and embrace us for who we are. They encourage us that there is always room to grow. There is no better place than Valley!    


Wednesday is the New Friday

      By: Mateo Rodriguez-Roggie

Goodbye Friday and hello Wednesday. To understand the thought behind Wednesday, I went and talked with the principal of Valley. Mrs. Krick was very happy to answer my questions the first being “What is the thought behind Wednesday?” She responded with this, “The thought behind it is to build a culture of relationships, curiosity, fun in learning, and the opportunity to earn credits in a more hands on environment. It also is looking at the the whole student, not just the academic side of things.” Wanting to get a little more on the topic I asked, “When did it start and why?” Her response to that was, “Wednesdays started this school year, we’re driven to persevere, to stoke your curiosity, to embrace life, learning and service, and to build relationships through time spent together.” So what's so magical about Wednesdays. I had to find out so I asked, “What are some things you guys do on Wednesday?” Her answer was astounding, “We do things like going to Highline Lake to do Paddle Boarding , College Fair, Tiara Rado Golf Course - Lessons with a Golf Pro, Ouray - (Museum, Mine Tour, Hike Box Canyon, Swim in the Thermal Pool), Yoga, Colorado National Monument Hike, Climbing Wall, Environmental Science Colorado National Monument, Courthouse Visit (Observe a Trial), Astronomy Night on the Colorado National Monument, etc, WOW!! Wednesdays are also here for academic support as well. The students are always welcomed to come in and work on their transcripts; there will always be a teacher here to help the students if needed.”

Wednesdays give the students a well needed break halfway through the week. The thought behind it all is to not only have fun, but to have more learning experiences. The trips offer students different learning opportunities such as math, social studies, science, etc. But it also teaches us how to be confident, and trusting in one another. What's better, reading about something in an old book or actually going and seeing it for yourself and getting a better understanding of what it is. Now if for whatever reason outdoor activities isn’t your cup of tea, you are always welcome to stay at the school and have some fun with one of the other teachers participating in activities such as yoga, microwave baking, board games, etc. You can even come and earn credit by watching movies in Mr. Nash’s class. The students and staff here at Valley find having Wednesday like this is extremely useful. Not only does it change up the classroom, but the days we don't have trips or anything planned, the teacher's use this as an extra day to prepare. Wednesday may be new this year but it’s a great part of our week here at Valley.   

 Art Comes to Valley

       By Mateo Rodriguez-Roggie

On November 3, 2017, Valley was visited by  Nancee Jean Busse, an amazing artist. Nancee is a native of Illinois and taught as a middle school art teacher before accepting a position as an educational consultant with the Illinois State Gifted program. This amazing and sweet woman has illustrated over 20 children's books and even did advertising for agencies and corporations. Since then, Nancee has moved to Colorado and opened her own development house, providing creative content development.

Even with a demanding job, Nancee took the time to come and visit Valley students. She talked about putting one’s self into their art and how to speak through their art. Not only did she teach the students how to speak through their art, but how to take a mistake and turn it into a masterpiece. Nacee brought in some art to share with the students, one still in progress, and the other being a beautiful painting of Sitting Bull's Dancing Horse which related to the Sitting Bull’s death. Nancee’s inspiration comes from Native American stories and legends.

The students had time to hang out with Nancee and do some art with her as well. Nancee not only taught the students, but took the time to get to know each one asking about the techniques they use and asked about what got them started in the world of art.

But all good things must come to an end and the students had to be off. But before leaving, Nancee handed out sketchbooks so students could draw anytime, anywhere. The students time with Nancee was short but the kids left with more confidence and inspiration to keep doing what they love.             



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