Archives for March 2013

Skinner enrollment to skyrocket in 2013-4

Skinner will have its largest 6th grade class for the 2013-14 school year in 10 years!

According to numbers released by Denver Public Schools’ Office of Choice and Enrollment Services, 218 6th graders have been assigned to Skinner following the DPS choice process, a 66% increase over the current class of 6th graders, and the largest 6th grade class since 2003. For the first time since 2005, Skinner will have over 500 students across grades 6, 7 and 8 enrolled in August 2013.

“Skinner teachers have focused on high academic achievement for all of our students,” said Skinner principal Michelle Koyama. “It’s clear that our community is enthusiastic about our excellent academic program, extended Spanish language classes and rich arts offerings in a socioeconomically and culturally diverse environment.”

In 2011, Skinner jumped two levels to achieve the Green “Meets Expectations” status on Denver Public Schools’ School Performance Framework (SPF) rating system, a 53% increase in the school’s rating over 2010. In 2012, the school increased its points earned on the SPF by an additional 16%. Between 2010 and 2012, Skinner’s SPF rating increased a whopping 78%. Skinner has seen similar increases on statewide TCAP standardized test scores: Skinner’s overall median growth percentile in 2012 was the highest of all the DPS middle school network schools! Check out our achievements:

  • Median growth percentiles in writing increased in all three grade levels, with an overall increase of 17% from 2011 to 2012
  • 7th grade reading, writing and math all made double digit gains in 2012, increasing proficiency by 10%, 12% and 14%t respectively
  • Skinner has posted an increase in the percentage of students proficient in writing every year since 2009

“Skinner has become the ‘go to’ school in Northwest Denver because of the tremendous growth in test scores, programs offered, overall reputation and parent involvement,” said Renee Martinez Stone, the parent of a Skinner student. “This incredible growth shows that families want high-quality neighborhood schools for their kids. ”

In addition to the strong academic core classes Skinner offers, the school also provides honors options in all core subject areas; daily math and/or reading intervention for students not yet proficient in those areas; 8 levels of Spanish language instruction; P.E., visual arts, band and orchestra; and nearly 20 Friday Enrichment” classes options, including “Learn how to Geocache”, iPad Moviemaking, Woodshop, Skateboard Club and Phone App Development. Additionally, twelve different Skinner teams compete against other middle schools in sports like basketball, cross country and volleyball.

We are so proud of our students, families, teachers, staff and community – and look forward to an even more spectacular 2013-4 school year. Go Scorpions!

Viviana, 6th grade Scientist

Science is awesome. Everyday I’m enthusiastic about what I’m going to learn in science. Atoms, space, Earth, water are some of the things I like to learn in science, especially since I like to do experiments and discover new things.

Being in Science Olympiad was an awesome experience even though I was kind of nervous when I got there. But when I saw all my class mates so excited I got excited as well. Schools from all over Colorado were there to do their best in Science Olympiad for their schools.

When you’re in Science Olympiad there’s no time to rest. You have to be prepared for whatever they’re going to give you. That’s because in Science Olympiad there are a lot of things to do. For example you have to find out your room number of your category, get as much information that you can about your category, and start getting all that information about that category.

For me Science Olympiad was great. You get to hang out with your friends on a Saturday and get a rest from your family. If you go to Science Olympiad you won’t regret it.

-Viviana, 6th grade student

Finding a Good Read

In schools everywhere, students arrive in the library with the assignment of checking out a book. Too often, their checked out books are dropped into the book return on their way out. But not at Skinner, where students find books they love to read.

Dr. Pacheco, the Skinner Librarian and Tech Coordinator, prides herself on finding a “just right” book for every student. For students Yehimi, Drew, and Harley, this approach has inspired them to dig deeper into their interests and explore new ones. The personalized attention from Dr. Pacheco inspired a new love of reading for one, who is reading her second book ever, a 350 pager that she cannot put down. Books that these students are reading now and suggest to others:

  • The Price of Loyalty, by Mike Castan
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
  • Romiette and Julio, by Sharon Draper

How does Dr. Pacheco match the reading level and interests of each student to a book? Her rapport with the students keeps her in tune to their interests, and student assessments like SRI scores are used to find books written at the right level. Raising $26,000 in DPS boost money for new books over the past two years has helped too, substantially adding to the collection, which will be further extended with a donation from Barnes & Noble.

Another important role of the librarian at Skinner is supporting the curriculum. Dr. Pacheco is in constant contact with the staff and students to stay ahead of the content in each classroom. For Black History Month, she helped find funding to purchase a copy of In Darkness, by Nick Lake, for every student in an 8th grade class. This hero’s journey features parallel stories and a slave rebellion, and offers several opportunities for students to extend their learning through related books that she had selected. Skinner students are fortunate to have a librarian committed so their reading success!

If you would like to support the Skinner library, a few volunteer hours would be a big help with the inventory taking place in early April.  The library inventory must be completed every 5 years.  If enough volunteers can fill the shifts, the library will remain open to students and staff during those two weeks.

Signup for a two hour shift

Skinner Science Olympiads!

For the first time in recent history, Skinner was one of only two DPS teams (East High was the other) to compete in the recent Colorado Science Olympiad. School teams of 15 students competed to demonstrate their science knowledge in 23 events covering all areas of science, from Anatomy to Meteorology.

Skinner scholars showed they know their way around the scientific method:

  • The 8th grade team came in 4th place for experimental design, 9th place for water quality and 26th overall
  • The 6th grade team came in 15th for keep the heat, 16th place for anatomy and 30th overall

Olympiads worked on lab practicals and pencil-and-paper tests, in addition to “build it” opportunities, including:

  • Rotor egg drop – students constructed a device according to parameters to safely spin a raw egg to the ground without breaking (think helicopter).
  • Mouse trap car – students used the lever of the mouse trap to provide force to move a self-constructed vehicle to a prescribed distance.
  • Boomilever -students constructed a balsa wood fixed-crane device designed to hold the most weight possible

We are so proud of the accomplishments of our students and teachers in our science department!  Now what we know what to expect – look out world!

Nine musicians selected for citywide honor orchestra

Nine Skinner musicians were selected to participate in the 2013 Citywide Middle School Honor Orchestra.  Only a select number of students per school, recognized for their talent and leadership skills, are asked to audition.  A representative from Denver Public School’s music program traveled around the city to conduct auditions.  Skinner is so pleased to have had nine of our student musicians selected to participate, a huge increase from last year, when just one student was selected – and a testament to the skill and expertise of our band and orchestra teacher, Mr. Jordan Dwyer.

With this honor comes the responsibility for the students to learn the music, attend all rehearsals and participate in a professional manner as a young adult.  This year’s conductor is Rebecca Jonas, orchestra teacher at Westview Middle School in Longmont.  The Middle School Honor Orchestra will be a part of a concert along with Honor Orchestras representing DPS elementary and high schools.  The concert will be on Saturday, April 13th, at 3:00 p.m. in the auditorium of John F. Kennedy High School, 2855 S. Lamar St., Denver, 80227.

Congratulations to our Skinner musicians selected for the 2013 Citywide Middle School Honor Orchestra:

  • Alyssa Archuleta
  • Chloee Beam
  • Cathy Diaz
  • Alyssa Wade Gasca
  • Cassidy Gordon
  • Vincent Haney
  • Kolette Lavoy
  • DJ McAllister
  • Charlotte Williamson

Family shares their Skinner experience

After attending Brown International Academy, Skinner was our first middle school choice for our son, Mason. What a relief it was to learn he was accepted last spring! Now Mason is halfway through his 6th grade year at Skinner and we could not be more thrilled because he is flourishing, both academically and socially.

For our family, the importance of Mason continuing on to our neighborhood school was important to us. We were at Brown from the beginning and moving on to Skinner was an opportunity to continue on the same path because neighborhood schools provide a strong foundation for our kids. We feel so fortunate to be part of such a vibrant community of active families all working towards a common goal – to provide and build a healthy middle school for ourselves, as well as for our friends and neighborhood families.

As parents we are continually amazed and so appreciative of the emphasis placed on the academics at Skinner.  The teachers are supportive and encouraging, they really know their students. This is so important!  I find the accountability that has been instilled and is expected daily is so molding for the students and parents alike.  There are many after school activities as well, something for everyone.  I especially like College 4 You – what a fantastic opportunity to start leading our children towards the goal of higher education through introduction to campus life and exciting hands on experiences.  Mason loves it!

We were relieved that our transition into middle school life was smooth and welcoming; I really attribute that to the above and beyond efforts of Principal Koyama and her amazing team of staff and teachers.

– Kathleen Ham, mom of 6th grader Mason


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