Our Three Elementary Schools


Michelle Narain, Reporter

Woodland Park is a thriving and close knit community with much to offer. The young and older alike have much to gain from our small town. The Woodland Park School District (WPSD) is just one of many things our town is proud to have. WPSD consists of five schools and is also part of the cottage/homeschooling program. Three of the five schools are our very own elementary schools where students are held at a high standard.

Columbine is one of our extraordinary elementary schools whose principal is Mrs. Veronica Wolken. Columbine’s students are taught to celebrate the community, be instilled with a love for learning, and maintain a sense of responsibility.

Mrs.Wolken said, “Our mission is to nurture a school where children learn from the real world, and we invite them into the best of it; a model that strives for a balanced attention to intuitive, scholastic, and apprenticeship learning; commitment to bonding with, caring for, and learning from nature, the highest quality, time-tested literature, Fine and Performing Arts, and STEM (Scientific – Technological – Engineering – Mathematical) innovative thinking.” Mrs.Wolken went on to say, “Schools reflect the priorities of the society, and never before did we experience such profound cultural need for nurturing children’s intellectual and moral growth, development of character and competence, mutual interconnectedness of education, families and communities, and development of moral sense.” When asked about the accomplishment made thus far Principal Wolken said, “It has been a challenging and yet invigorating and inspiring process, and we already can see the fruit of our labor: consistency of core instruction for every child, every day, consistency of targeted interventions through our Focus Groups for every child, every day, abundance of enriching experiences that Columbine students received from internal Masters like Music, Art, Physical Education, Gifted and Talented curriculum available to all, and visiting Masters. The list of community Masters and experiences that they offered to our students include Young Entrepreneurship class, National Parks, Nutrition and Cooking, Lego We Do Robotics, Taking Off with Airplanes, Colorado College and Catamount Institute Environmental Science, and the list goes on.” Principal Wolken also added, “We look forward to every day of learning, working and being together.”

Gateway is yet another of our elementary schools and their principal is Mrs. Kay Waddell. Mrs. Waddell opened with saying, “Gateway Elementary is a STEAM focused school.  STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. We believe in order to prepare our students for the 21st Century World; they need to have opportunities to actively engage in STEAM focused activities.  These activities include but are not limited to:  robotics, basic programming, hands on science labs, chess, song writing, vocal performance, dimensional art projects and dramatic performance.” Mrs. Waddell also stressed the importance of family and community in involvement. Gateway’s students are taught standards based, district approved curriculum by highly qualified, dynamic teachers.  Student academic growth is closely monitored through assessments. Teachers provide interventions to students who might need further time to develop their skills or to advance their existing skills. One of Gateway’s highest priorities is safety. Gateway has a unique program called Watch DOGS where a father, grandfather, husband of a staff member or a male community member is on school grounds for the entire time students are in session.  Events this month include a Holiday Social (12/11/13), performances by the Gateway Choir and WPHS Madrigals, a school sing-a-long (12/20/13), and students are also preparing holiday music selections.

Last, but certainly not least is Summit Elementary. Summit’s Principal is Mrs. Katie Rexford. Mrs. Rexford explained Summit’s mission statement as, Summit Elementary School shall provide a safe environment, challenge our community to meet high academic standards and promote an appreciation for the arts.” Summit’s staff strives to instill self-discipline, responsibility, personal integrity and pride in their students while honoring creativity and individuality. One of Summit’s main goals is in the area of writing and continuing to maintain a focus its importance. When asked about the students and vibe of Summit Mrs.Rexfod exclaimed, “The students of our school are absolutely tremendous. Students and staff care for one another and there is a true sense of community. Summit is a positive and energetic building. It is lively and I cannot help but smile when I am at school.” Summit is a flourishing school with a full schedule to keep students involved. Some of their upcoming events include completing the second round of MAP testing, their Holiday Shop (from 12/10-12/12), their 5th grade music program which is the evening of 12/19, and their school sing-a-long on 12/20.

Mrs. Rexford ended by saying, “Summit is wonderful! We continue to look at what we are doing and we are working to provide the absolute best for our students every day.”

All three of these fine educational facilities strive for the best education and progress for their students. Columbine, Gateway, and Summit all provide a committed staff, devoted principals, and a safe learning environment for young students in the Woodland Park School District. These schools strive for instilling imperative qualities in their students such as responsibility, a sense of community, integrity, and self discipline. The staff and principals of these schools also teach their students the importance of individuality, creativity, and a sense of community. Columbine, Gateway, and Summit are all successfully showing their students how to strive for a better tomorrow and how they can make a difference.