I am encouraged and impressed by the positive impact that Rachel’s Challenge has already made in the D’Evelyn community, and I look forward to witnessing the short-term and long-term benefits of this powerful program.
As the leader of the school, I felt challenged along with the students, faculty, staff, and families that participated in the Rachel’s Challenge events over the course of the week. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on areas of my own life, both personal and professional, where I can pay additional attention and dedicate extra energy towards positive interactions with everyone in my life - family, friends, colleagues, and D’Evelyn students and families.
With that in mind, I accept the five components of Rachel’s Challenge, as follows:
There are many ways that I can incorporate these important actions into my daily life and work, and I look forward to the continued opportunities to do so. It is my sincere belief that with all individual community members focused on these positive daily actions, our community will continue to grow stronger, and more supportive and engaging for all.
One important distinction that our Rachel’s Challenge presenter made really struck me. He noted that while in the pursuit of Rachel’s Challenge, it is important to know that the challenge is not about being perfect all the time. Considering the essential function of our school - to support the development of the hearts and minds of D’Evelyn students - I found that statement to be particularly empowering and uplifting.
D’Evelyn students are the future leaders of our communities - they are future parents, spouses, partners, workers, business owners, church members, and politicians. As a school community, and as outlined in the D’Evelyn Founding Document, it is our shared responsibility to help our students grow up to contribute positively to their communities in the future, no matter what that future holds.
Please join me and the D’Evelyn faculty, staff, and administration, and discuss Rachel’s Challenge as a family, taking the opportunity to start your own chain reaction. We are all working to encourage, support, celebrate, and at times, correct, our students in their pursuit of an excellent education that will prepare them for a happy, full, and enriching life. I am confident that the message of Rachel’s Challenge provides our students the proper foundation to consider the power and magnitude of their individual daily words and actions.
I am honored to share with you that we will be hosting Rachel’s Challenge on Wednesday, October 24th and Thursday, October 25th at D’Evelyn. Rachel’s Challenge is an organization started in memory of Rachel Scott, the first victim in the tragic Columbine shooting in 1999. In honor of Rachel’s life, Rachel’s Challenge was organized with a mission of “awakening individual transformation and promoting safer, more connected schools”, and the vision of seeing “a school free from harassment, bullying, and violence where teachers are free to teach, and students are awakened to learn.”
Each year, Rachel’s Challenge visits more than 1,200 schools and reaches 1.5 million people. The program is designed to encourage all community members to engage in random acts of kindness and compassion. We are fortunate to have this great resource available to all D’Evelyn students, faculty, staff, and families on October 24th and October 25th.
On October 24th, all D’Evelyn students & faculty will engage in the Rachel’s Challenge assembly in our Main Gymnasium. The assembly will replace the time generally allocated for 7th hour, and we will follow a modified bell schedule throughout the day. On October 25th, during 7th hour, student leaders and faculty/staff members will have a chance to receive additional leadership training.
Additionally, on October 25th, D’Evelyn students, staff, and families are invited to attend the Rachel’s Challenge Community Event presentation at D’Evelyn at 6:30 pm, so that they can learn more about this important message and begin to act throughout our school community. We encourage interested families to attend this community event to learn more about the program.
To learn more about Rachel’s Challenge, I encourage you to visit their website.
The D’Evelyn Founding Document states, “All students, staff and parents will be expected to maintain a behavior standard that demonstrates respect for authority, others, and self. Responsibility, honesty, self-control, kindness and fairness will be encouraged and expected.” There is an important message within this statement - D’Evelyn was designed to help prepare students for life, to be good people, hard workers, and contributing members in their respective communities. It is my sincere belief that the message and actionable elements of Rachel’s Challenge will very much help both students and adults in the D’Evelyn community embrace the importance of kindness and compassion in their life.
Thank you for your support of this important event. I appreciate you talking with your children about this program and emphasizing your support that our students attend this event with attention and an open mind. As an administration, we are confident that this training can be a great starting point in building an even stronger, more supportive community at D’Evelyn.
I hope that you and your family have enjoyed the three-day weekend. It has been a busy few weeks at D’Evelyn for students, families, faculty, and staff. Students and teachers are working hard each day in the classroom, D’Evelyn fall athletes are competing in their league schedules and state postseason competitions, and D’Evelyn performing artists have been entertaining and competing regularly. It is an exciting time at D’Evelyn - I am proud of the many achievements already met this year by our wonderful students, faculty, and staff. It is a privilege to serve as principal of this great school.
It is also the approximate midpoint of the first semester, and I know that D’Evelyn students have been busy, and at times even stressed and overwhelmed. I am confident that our students have struggled with academics and persevered through challenges in the first eight weeks of the school year. I am also confident that the struggles and perseverance that students encounter in their junior and senior high school years will ultimately prepare them for the challenges of life. The D’Evelyn program is ultimately liberating and empowering for students, but there are certainly challenges faced by students during their D’Evelyn journey.
The faculty, staff, and administration want to recognize the great achievements of our students, while
also working to support students as they face challenges, academically, personally, or socially during their time at D’Evelyn. As the adults in the building, we share an important partnership with parents and families of D’Evelyn students. It is our shared responsibility to support and look out for the children in our care.
I am sure that the remaining eight weeks of the first semester will be equally challenging, busy, and exhaustive as the first eight weeks were. As we proceed through the middle of the semester, I ask parents and families to continue to provide support and encouragement for their students. There
will be difficult days, and even weeks, during the semester. However, if we all work towards supporting and encouraging our students, I know that our shared sense of the empowering, uplifting nature of the D’Evelyn liberal arts program will guide us through those struggles.
I hope that the three-day weekend has been restful, relaxing, and restorative for you and your family. I offer my very best wishes to a successful second half of the semester for all D’Evelyn students - in classes, athletics, performances, and other extracurricular endeavors.
D’Evelyn juniors will take the PSAT on Wednesday, October 10th. There are many benefits for students taking the PSAT, but in this instance, the national PSAT 11 testing day serves as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. D’Evelyn is one of a handful of schools in the county that offers this examination for all students. We wish the Class of 2020 the very best for this test!
Based on last year’s exam, 17 current members of the D’Evelyn Class of 2019 were recognized as Commended Scholars (top 3% in the nation) or National Merit Semifinalists. Please join me in congratulating our Commended Scholars - Sebastian Coco, Andrew Cohen, Jonathan Kowalski, Cecilia Leoni, Claire Madonna, Alexander Miceli, Benjamin Reynolds, Emma Ryckman, Emily Smith, Brady Sullivan, and Alexandra Watson - and our semifinalists - Samantha Bakes, Rory Devin, Emma Dukesherer, Cadence Fisher, Alan Li, and Ian Widmann.
We are proud of the effort and accomplishments of all D’Evelyn students in their academic endeavors and believe the high-quality performance on these exams is a clear reflection of the hard work of students, teachers, and families during their time at D’Evelyn. The October PSAT/NMSQT administration is the one opportunity annually that D’Evelyn juniors must qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
The administration of the PSAT 11 is aligned well with the new Colorado framework for standardized testing. In the spring, Colorado 9th, 10th, and 11th graders will all take either the PSAT or SAT for their annual state assessment. These tests will be administered at D’Evelyn in April 2019. We believe that the PSAT/NMSQT, along with the PSAT 9 and 10, offer one more quality opportunity for students to prepare for the upcoming SAT exam for college admissions.
In the D’Evelyn program, we do not modify curriculum or instruction to align with standardized testing expectations. However, our students have a strong history of great achievement on both the ACT and SAT, two important tests in the college admission process. While our first priority will always be the success of students in the D’Evelyn liberal arts program, we do hope that by students completing PSAT 9, PSAT 10, PSAT 11, and SAT 11 in succession over roughly two years, students and families will have more information about and exposure to the SAT testing format and expectations.
I also encourage families and students to consider creating a College Board account, where many more additional resources are available to understand the tests and how your student performs. Khan Academy offers free SAT prep coursework for students that aligns with data that, with permission, their program gathers from College Board.
Please join me in encouraging your junior student to give their best effort this Wednesday on the PSAT. I look forward to seeing their great results and performance.
After the completion of the PSAT on Wednesday, juniors are dismissed for the rest of the school day. The remainder of D’Evelyn students will have classes as regularly scheduled, 7:35 AM - 2:30 PM.
Josh Griffin, Principal