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The Principal Chronicles continue ... We are back, the Chronicles are back, the kids are back, the staff is back, and it is safe to say we are prepped and ready to roll this year. After last year, this Principal wanted to make sure this year was off to a better start. (Side note - I am very reflective and try very hard to learn from my mistakes).

This summer was all kinds of fun, I worked a lot at school (which was a good thing). I did a lot of manual labor inside CTE to get ready for this year. (Note to self: trying to move collapsible book shelves with books on them by yourself, up a ramp, is probably not the best course of action).

For me personally, our big summer event was competing in the Rocky Mountain State Games (which we do every year) and staying at the Great Wolf Lodge in Colorado Springs. For those of you who don't know what the Great Wolf Lodge is, think Water World meets the Children's museum meets Las Vegas. Essentially it is a giant hotel which seems like it was built by a five-year-old. There is not only a Dunkin Donuts inside but also a Ben & Jerry's plus a HUGE water park. Yep, like I said, built by a five-year-old. In our room we had bunk beds in some weird cave thing, there was a dance party in the lobby at 9 PM, and pretty much every adult I saw in the hotel was either buying something for their kids or spending money on an activity for their kids. (Hence the Las Vegas reference). That place was absolutely NUTS. Did I mention they have a huge water park INSIDE the hotel? Our girls basically walked into the hotel and that was the last time they wore regular clothes the whole time we were in the hotel. It was swimsuit and flip flop city.

The water park had a wave pool, slides, and tons of other activities for kids. Basically, all the adults sat in the middle of the water park and ate and the kids went nuts all over the place. I tried very hard to keep my principal hat off and let the lifeguard handle the miniature sprinters.

I was up early one morning and went through the lobby to go run at around 6 am and there was a line of sleepy looking Dads out the door of Dunkin Donuts. Some walking out with no less than seven BOXES of donuts. Who can eat that many donuts?

Lastly, we competed in Rock Climbing and Orienteering. We by no means are serious about either of those events but it sure was fun to compete. Speaking of serious, we went to watch the competitive air hockey competition (I'm not making this up) and people were stretching before their match. Yes stretching. Who stretches for air hockey? These people were really really serious about their sport. They had gloves, their custom paddle, and even knee pads. Whoa, that is a different level of air hockey than what I have ever seen. They were pretty good though, it was just hilarious to watch grown men jump around and talk smack to each other around air hockey. Priceless.

Well that is it for this week, we move to a new website here pretty soon so I am going to start adding some audio and video to my Chronicles. Keep things interesting. Have a great week and see you next time when the Principal Chronicles continue.

Posted by denis.kuzmin  On Nov 13, 2017 at 8:56 AM 460 Comments

The Principal Chronicles continue ... Now into our second week, we survived the Eclipse. It was amazing to me how awesome it was. It was equally amazing how much time and energy we put into that day. We had quite a few solar glasses but even better we had a large number of students who created their own viewing devices. I love love love the creativity.

Other than that, it's been a pretty good week. Students are starting to get settled in and the teachers are starting to understand what type of learners all of our students are. We are really looking forward to starting to dive into learning.

On a personal note, my oldest started middle school last week (and promptly got strep). Not sure if I am excited about middle school or not. I have visions of the movie "Mean Girls" floating around in my head. Of course, her first day of school outfit included her unicorn power shirt, Star Wars backpack, and sloth socks so I am sure I'll have good stories for sure.

On a different note, we have our Back to School Night coming up on Tuesday, August 29th from 6:30 - 8:00. We would love to get as many families in that night as we can. Again this year, I'll be giving my State of the School address and will discuss our current enrollment, our test scores, and lots of other fun and exciting topics. Plus we have ice cream!! Who doesn't want free ice cream?

Posted by denis.kuzmin  On Nov 13, 2017 at 8:55 AM 486 Comments

The Principal Chronicles continue ... As I write this it is the morning after back to school night and, as always, it was a great evening. Even four years later, I am still amazed at the number of parents who show up to support our school for just about any event. Not only that, we had tons of parents brave the extreme temperatures of our new professional development room to listen to me babble on about the state of our school. In case you missed it or your ears melted off in the heat here are the main topics I covered:

We are above our projected enrollment (by a lot) which means we will be getting some money come September. We did really well on PARCC. Please make sure students are safe coming to and leaving from school. Of course, I went into more detail about each, but that's the gist of it all.

On the personal side, this weekend is my oldest daughter's 12th birthday. Being that she is now in middle school, I was a little nervous that we might have to do a big girl party or go to some concert where everyone is screaming. Luckily she is pretty low key so we are going to some art place to do an art project. (I'm sure I'll be the only Dad in the place, and I will probably be one of the only adults in the place who will actually do the art project.) Of course, I possess zero artistic talent, so whatever the art project is, it will most likely come out looking like roadkill. After that, we are doing the mall challenge. We did the Walmart challenge with my younger daughter for her birthday in July. The challenge is essentially giving each person $5 and see who can get the most stuff in Walmart for $5. Not overly sure how we are going to make it work at Park Meadows Mall but if you happen to be there this weekend and see some random girls acting strangely they may or may not be a part of the Miller clan.

Other than that, don't forget that Tuesday, September 5th is the Chaparral Homecoming Parade which is totally awesome. All are invited to sit along the street and collect the copious amounts candy OR if you have a 5th or 6th-grade student you are welcome to walk with us and distribute candy. It all starts at 5:30. If you want to walk with us please be there at 5:00. By there I mean the Chap parking lot. Hope to see you there.

That is it for this week, stay tuned for next week's episode of the Principal Chronicles...

Posted by denis.kuzmin  On Nov 13, 2017 at 8:54 AM 262 Comments

The Principal Chronicles continue ... This week was Chaparral's homecoming week and for us, that meant we got to walk in their homecoming parade. This year we upgraded our experience by having a really cool truck pull a big trailer packed full of our students. Not only did we look cool, the kids decorated the trailer with posters and they got to ride the whole way (and it's a long way).

If you have never been to the Chap Homecoming parade it's essentially just like Halloween. From every float, the students throw candy to those sitting in the crowd (although if you are sitting on the side you really need to be careful because some kids throw the heater instead of the change up). For our school, students rode in the trailer and the parents rode in the back of the truck and our teachers walked behind. I have to admit, this year the parade speed was a lot higher than it was last year. There were some times when we had to hit the gas just to keep up with the other schools floats. Overall it was a ton of fun and I got plenty of exercise walking and throwing candy (I have to admit, I only handed out candy to CTE families; I know what you are thinking, but we are a family, and we take care of our own).

Coming up in the future I am thinking of adding a different component to the Chronicles. I am going to attempt to add a short podcast interviewing our teachers to try and give our loyal readers a behind the scenes look at what we do here at CTE. It sounds like a really good idea in my head so we will see how it turns out. Look for it in the coming weeks.

That is it for this week, thanks for tuning in and I'll see you next week when the Principal Chronicles continue ...

Posted by denis.kuzmin  On Nov 13, 2017 at 8:54 AM 366 Comments

The Principal Chronicles continue ... As I write this, it is Wednesday morning. The sun is shining, the Broncos won (though I didn't watch the game, who can stay up that late on a school night?), and for the most part, things are running pretty smoothly (although I may have just jinxed it).

On my way to school through the giant construction zone known as C-470 this morning, I had a small freak out moment realizing how many things I need to get done in the next two weeks. Especially next week. I'm out of the building a bunch this week and there are many projects that I have started working on that need to be finished. I am a very goal-driven person and I like to make sure I do what I say I am going to do. The problem is, I opened my big mouth and said I would teach a class for our teacher in-service day next week without looking at how busy I am that week. Next week we have our SAC meeting, Outdoor Ed, AND our professional development day. Holy Cow I am stacked that week. Not only that but Renee's birthday is Friday so I have to plan that as well.

Luckily for me, all she wants to do is go to a restaurant by our house called the Flying Pig. It's basically a burger place where she wants to have a burger with cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and about 100 grams of fat. Last time we were there, I couldn't find a single healthy thing on the menu (hence the name flying pig). I know what you're thinking, "Why don't you live a little, why don't you just eat a burger". Essentially if I dropped a burger from that place into my system, I'd be adding more fat, salt and red meat than I have had in months. I would most likely be so sick to my stomach I'd seize up. At the same time, I think it's blasphemy to bring other food into a restaurant or just not eat. I have no idea how I'm going to solve this one. Maybe they allow dogs and I can sneak my food to George.

Well enough rambling, I need to actually get some work done here at CTE and spend some time with our kids. I've been in and out so much this week I miss them (side note: I've been in so many meetings that the other day I only took 3K steps throughout the day. How sad is that? I could fall down the stairs and get more than 3K steps).

That's it for this week, stay tuned for next week's episode when I travel to Outdoor Ed which is always an event for great stories. Until next time when the Principal Chronicles continues....

Posted by denis.kuzmin  On Nov 13, 2017 at 8:54 AM 344 Comments

The Principal Chronicles continue ... I am currently up at outdoor ed having fun with our 6th grade students. The chronicles will be back next week with some really good stories. Until next week....

Posted by denis.kuzmin  On Nov 13, 2017 at 8:53 AM 622 Comments

The Principal Chronicles continue (Outdoor Ed edition).........Another year and another Outdoor Ed experience is in the books. This year's 6th-grade students are some of the best we have ever had here at Cherokee Trail. Their behavior and attitude were exceptional and even the Outdoor Ed staff complimented them.

When I arrived just before lunch (great timing by me by the way) the students were settled in on the patio waiting to go into lunch. In order to gain access to lunch, the students were competing with the main camp counselor. The counselor would pick one of three animals which he would then gesture with his arms (since you're reading this picture a grown man acting like an eagle, rabbit, or bear) the students all had to pick one of the three animals at the same time and had to be different than the counselor. If it was the same, the student would be out. The competition was fierce with arms and sound effects going wild. The food there is pretty good especially since the students are basically starving by the time they get to eat having been so busy during the day. For lunch they busted out Jambalaya. A bold move I thought for a bunch of 6th graders, but the kids plowed right through it.

From there the students went on to their activities. We walked around and visited with all of the different groups. Thank goodness the day was beautiful because that is a lot of walking. It is always really cool to see kids doing things they don't have an opportunity to do in a regular school setting. They were shooting arrows, making art out of nature, looking for organisms in a small stream, and trying to save a water balloon from being popped. It was awesome.

After dinner, it was time for the night hike. I usually love the night hike but it was a bit windy and this principal left his coat in the car so I had to suck it up and try not freeze to death. We walked around the campus, looked at stars, and played Marco Polo in the dark, which was scary but still fun. They were also pointing out stars with a laser that looks like a giant lightsaber. I think most kids were more hung up on the laser rather than the stars. At the very end of the hike, the counselor had the students lie down and look at the stars for 10 minutes in silence. As much as I think the kids enjoy being quiet, I think half of them fell asleep.

The next morning after breakfast it was time for my favorite part of Outdoor Ed, the high ropes. So basically it's like a giant jungle gym that the kids can climb but way off the ground. The kids love it and it is really neat for them to overcome their fears. The best part was after the kids were all done climbing, the teachers got a turn. Mrs. Duncan and Mrs. Tyler are very scared of heights but they still got up and climbed for their turn. Both were successful for the first time. I was very proud of them. Ms. Coggan apparently grew up in the trees as she had zero fear of anything and was all over the structure.

In the end, the teachers and students did such a good job. Such a good job in fact, that I didn't really have any crazy stories except for ortbot. So the staff at Outdoor Ed created this strange creature out of cardboard boxes. They called it ortbot and it told the kids (in a series of beeps kind of like BB8) about how much trash the kids threw away during meals. It was hard to keep a straight face when you know there is an adult inside a taped up cardboard box beeping to the kids and dancing around. I'm glad it wasn't me in that thing. I'd probably fall over and wouldn't be able to get up by myself.

Well that is it for this week, see you all at conferences next week. Until next time when the Principal Chronicles continue.....

NEW THIS WEEK: I will be hosting a weekly podcast called Staff Chat (available on CTE's YouTube channel - please subscribe and never miss any of the fun!). Each week I will have a short interview with one of our staff members. Please enjoy the first episode with Ahna Briese here!

Posted by denis.kuzmin  On Nov 13, 2017 at 8:39 AM 409 Comments

The Principal Chronicles continue ... As I sit here (actually stand since I have a standing desk) we are just a couple days out from Fall Break. I know with conferences this week our teachers are ready to take a well-deserved break. For me, it gives me a chance to get a bunch of work done at school that I normally can't get done when the teachers and students are here. I'm going to be finishing lots of projects that I started and have been working on in small chunks. One of which is my podcast around getting to know some of our teachers. If you haven't listened to it, you should check it out. (insert shameless plug - link at end of Chronicles).

Other than that, I am going up to my parents' house in Estes Park for the second half of break. As many of you know, my parents love to have us come up. Let me rephrase that, they love when my daughter comes up (my oldest isn't on break) so they can spoil her and drag her all over Estes, and I just kind of follow along for good measure. It is gorgeous up there and my parents are very outdoor people so we will be hiking and exploring just about everything. Relaxing is not the word I would use for a visit to my parent's house but I am sure my daughter will have all kinds of good fun.

Right now she is down in Larkspur (it is down isn't it?) at Outdoor Ed. It's kind of strange switching to my parent hat for Outdoor Ed. I've been down there about a million times as an educator but this is my first go around as a parent. Totally different feeling. My daughter is well equipped (like I said my parents live in Estes) but we will see how she does on the high ropes course. Hopefully, she will go all the way up but you never know. Some of my loyal readers will remember my dad of the year moment when I made her climb up a climbing wall and she cried all the way to the top. Guess we'll find out.

That is it for this week. From the Principal Chronicles to all of our families: have a safe and wonderful break! We will see you when you are all taller. Until next time, when the Principal Chronicles continue ...

THIS WEEK: I have posted a new podcast for our weekly Staff Chat (available on CTE's YouTube channel - please subscribe and never miss any of the fun!). Each week I will have a short interview with one of our staff members. Please enjoy the second episode with Madison Levine here!
Posted by evan.cuthill  On Nov 10, 2017 at 8:19 AM 290 Comments