Skinner Students Brightening the Holidays for Those who Deserve it Most


The 3rd Annual Giving Tree for the abused and neglected children of the Mount Saint Vincent Home (MSVH) was again a huge success. The Community Ambassadors of the Neighborhood Center made this holiday extra special for 28 children in need. The Ambassadors volunteered much of their time in our surrounding community and realized the importance of giving back. They reached out for help on a larger project to collect and donate a personalized gift for each child residing at the MSVH. Thanks to our caring community, the holidays will be a bit brighter for the children who deserve it the most.


Strong Season for Scorpion Athletes in 5 Fall Sports

Skinner athletes and coaches are proud to report on their exciting fall seasons.

Flag Football
Cross Country


_R7C0638Skinner’s softball program received a major boost from its participation in an MLB-hosted tournament in New York last summer. Coach Poellot and Coach Frahm report interest in softball is the highest it has been in years! Thanks to new teacher-coaches Ms. Rydning and Ms. Krochmal, girls even had the opportunity to build their skills on a JV squad. In total, nearly 30 girls took part in softball this year.

The team posted a 3-1 record (a few games were canceled due to an especially rainy September). The season kicked off with a close 10-8 win over Centennial. Next up, the team beat McAullife 12-4. On a freezing day when most schools decided to cancel their games, Skinner traveled to Lake to secure a decisive 15-4 victory in our rivalry game.

Placing first in the northwest division earned Skinner a first round bye in the playoffs. Skinner was then knocked out by a tough Grant Ranch team that would advance to the playoff finals. However, in that tight playoff game, our girls played their best softball yet.

This season, Skinner’s defense was led by Sofia and Yanitza, who swapped innings at pitcher and first base; Amelia and Angie were reliable behind the plate to catch the heat. Each of these girls also bolstered the offense with their slugging at the top of the order. The team welcomed a few solid additions this year, notably: Ella, Alexis, and Arianna, the lone 6th grader to make the varsity squad.

Highlights of the season included learning to slide on a slip-n-slide, enjoying hot chocolate at a chilly away game, and traveling to Wheatridge to cheer on two former Scorpion softballers, Analece and Gabby. Those girls went on to win a state championship; here’s hoping some of our current players will go on to continue that tradition!

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Flag Football
The season started strong with 22 players on the traveling squad and 27 players on the practice squad. Both boys and girls are participating by learning the plays, practicing sportsmanship, and having loads of fun. The practice squad is working hard to improve on days when no games are played. The traveling squad compiled a record of 2 – 2. Coach Dehning is hoping for another win or two in order to head to the playoffs with a positive direction.


1026130958a-1 (1)The 7 & 8th grade team had an exciting season, highlighted by a weekend at the University of Colorado at Boulder. On a Friday, the team drove to Boulder for an exciting evening complete with a tour of the campus, a pizza dinner and an exciting game watching the Buffs volleyball team crush Arizona. The girls did not get home until 10:30 pm, but returned to Skinner Middle School early Saturday morning to host their second annual team fundraiser. Each girl greeted parents, staff, and community members while serving  a delicious huevos rancheros breakfast. Each year, the team works together to become a family and in supporting these activities, the girls step out of their daily routine to become positive young ladies. Coach Gloria Montoya-Sanchez would like to thank the many family members, staff, and community members who support our team each year in making these activities possible.
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Cross Country
xcountry2The Cross Country Team had an amazing season, training in a variety of ways and running at different venues. One of their favorites this year was at Willis Case Golf Course, sponsored by our dedicated North Vikings. This year’s team was strong in numbers, but more impressive was the strength and perseverance each runner brought each day to practice. Coach Winter can’t wait to see what they bring next season! The team congratulates 8th graders Ryan, for his two year commitment to the team, and Andrea, for her successful season.



Coach Kendall and Coach Nenni had an energetic group of boys who were eager to learn the sport of soccer this season. The team looked to the leadership of 8th grade midfielder Ian and 7th grade goalie Maika, while 6th grader Travis led the front line. Everyday, practices were filled with conditioning, drills, and scrimmaging, and encouraging words from teammate to teammate were constantly overheard. The coaches are most proud of the sportsmanship displayed by the Skinner athletes on a regular basis. They are looking forward to helping the players grow and develop as soccer players in the off season, and seeing them out there on the field again next fall. Thank you to all the Skinner families and friends for the support!

We The People Congressional Hearings

The seventh annual “We The People Congressional Hearings” took place in Skinner’s auditorium on November 7. The Hearings are an opportunity for 8th Grade students, in teams of five or six, to demonstrate their knowledge and presentation skills before a panel of outside judges. The judges are drawn from various backgrounds, such as State Representatives, City Council Members, and School Board Members. Skinner Students prepared themselves over the course of an eight week Social Studies unit. Topics of the unit included: John Locke, the Declaration of Independence, the structure of the U.S. government, Judicial Review, the First Amendment, and Civic Participation.

Examples of the tough questions the students faced were:

  • Is it legal to put instructions on how to make a weapon on the internet?
  • Are there limits to a Skinner students’ First Amendment Rights while the student is at school?
  • Are you still a good citizen if you don’t vote or participate in government?

The morning passed quickly as the teams each presented before the panel for the question and answer sessions. The students displayed their depth of the subject matter, while also practicing their public speaking skills. The Social Studies department and all of the Skinner Scholars did a wonderful job. Congratulations to the winning team: Jianna, Mia, 
Daniel, and Alejandro.

Students complete their mentorships in medicine, journalism, photography and programming

Four students, driven and passionate about their interests, recently completed mentorships in a variety of careers. DPS students are selected from teacher referrals, and Program Manager Laura Kent is extremely impressed each year:  “Skinner teachers have done a wonderful job of identifying passionate students who are strong candidates for this program. It demonstrates their rapport and connection with the students.”

Each student met regularly with a volunteer mentor in their profession, and completed a project and class presentation. The following students participated this spring:

Ben Waters, medical mentorship with Kori Neessen, medical student at Anschutz Medical Center.Ben spent his mentorship around cadavers and human organs, and did an in-depth study on concussions. He even brought some of the organs to his class presentation. “I am so happy that this opportunity was available to me. It really inspired me in my life. Now I’m really interested in medicine. My mentor was so nice and so hard working but was still funny and able to make it fun.” class presentation

Melina Kilen, journalism mentorship with Julie Dugdale, senior editor at 5280 Magazine.

Melina visited Julie weekly in her downtown office, learning about the writing process and magazine production. She met with staff involved in the production, and is now even more motivated to pursue a career in writing. For her project, Melina wrote a restaurant review by doing research, interviewing the owner, and writing the story. restaurant review

Dorian Earnest, vintage photography mentorship with Mandell Winter, Colorado Camera Collectors Club.Dorian developed photos in a dark room, attended a camera show, and explored antique camera collections. class presentation

Max Julien, programming mentorship with Addison LeMessurier, programmer at Phobic Studios. Max built an iPhone app while learning about the variety of roles in software development: designers, testers, sound designers, artists, publishers, producers, and investors. “At my time inside Phobic, I realized how fun the job is.” By the end, Max was addicted to writing code! class presentation

Skinner Athletes Make a Playoff Run in Soccer and Finish Strong in Basketball and Baseball

Before spring, the only place Serai was playing soccer was after church with the boys. So when she had the opportunity to join the Skinner team, she jumped at the chance. She thought playing on the girls team and getting her first soccer ball were exciting, until she went on to score a goal in the playoffs!

The team started the season in dramatic fashion, winning their first game in extra time. During the season, they went on to score a lot of goals and boasted an impressive 6-1 record. Their excellent play advanced them to the second round of the playoffs before losing 4-2 to last year’s champion. The 20 girls on the team brought a range of experience – from first-time players to players who have played since they were five years old. But one thing the girls had in common: they all had fun playing together!

Comprised of mostly 6th graders, some with little or no experience, the baseball team impressed with effort and progress all season. Of all the team members at Skinner, one student in particular made great strides in throwing, ball handling, and hitting. It was inspiring to watch the other team members rally around this student with coaching efforts of their own. The coaches and school are very proud of this team!

The boys basketball team finished strong by winning their last three games, a big improvement after a slow start. Hard practice and teamwork made the difference, and now several players will attend a summer basketball camp.

The girls basketball team also finished their season with stunning improvement, strong camaraderie, and impeccable sportsmanship. In the first game, the girls struggled to score 10 points in the game, but by the end of the season, the girls posted 48 points against a tough team from Bruce Randolph! Every girl on the roster scored in that thrilling matchup, which made the victory even sweeter. Through practice and hard work, the girls learned to execute a swarming zone defense, effective inbounds plays, crisp passing, lightning fast breaks, and a devastating press. The girls were supported by two 8th grade players who acted as assistant coaches, Mariah and Gabby.
Every player made valuable contributions to the team’s success, but special mentions go to Yanitza for her breakaway layups, Jasmine for her ball handling as point guard, Amelia for her speed and defensive playmaking, and Alice and Paola for their ferocious rebounding. The team’s chemistry grew so strong that the season was capped off with a giant sleepover!


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

Science Fuels Passion

I am passionate about helping the environment, so for my science project I tested the amount of bio-gas that different types of biomass produce. In other words, I built several bio-gas generators and tested which of the following types of biomass or potential energy sources: chicken manure, cow manure, potato peelings and apple chunks.

After placing in my school’s science fair, I went to the Denver Public Schools Science Fair on January 28. The science fair was at the Denver Zoo and I had a lot of fun. The judges all had science backgrounds, so they understood the projects and were able to ask good questions. After presenting my project, I was able to walk around the zoo, which was much more fun than waiting in a conference room. The awards ceremony was filled with anticipation as zoo staff announced the top three projects in the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th grade competitions.

I ended up placing in the DPS Science Fair, and now I am preparing for the Metro Science Fair in February. This next competition includes students out of Denver Public Schools, so I will get a taste for some new projects. Needless to say, I am very excited to move on in the competition. Even if I don’t end up moving into the next round, I had a great time participating in the science fair.

By Ellyn, 8th grader

Free food and fun at Skinner Family Night – February 9

Skinner Middle School staff, students, families and community members will get together for a pasta pot luck, salsa contest and family dance on Thursday, February 9th from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the school’s cafeteria and west gym. The event is free – just bring a pasta dish to share and some homemade salsa to enter in our Best Salsa contest.

Northwest Denver’s school board member Arturo Jimenez, Senator Lucia Guzman and Representative Dan Pabon will be on hand to judge the salsa making contest. Contestants will also vote on their favorite salsa and prizes will be awarded.

There will be a great family-friendly D.J. on hand to keep everyone moving to the beat.
So come visit Skinner for a fun, free pasta dinner, salsa contest and family dance. You’ll be able to see for yourself the welcoming community we have in Northwest Denver’s great middle school.

Math Team = Exponential Fun

At Skinner Middle School, one of the best ways for Skinner Scholars to enhance their math skills and critical thinking is to join the growing, competitive Math Team. The Math Team, comprised of 15 students from all skill levels and led by coaches Brad Smith and Sarah Poellot, gathers weekly to tackle challenging high school level math and a variety of thought-provoking team problems. These fun yet rigorous training sessions prepare the Mathletes for Mathletic tournaments during the year. Seventh grader Hugo Burciaga reported, “The practices and competition were challenging, but I had a lot of fun!”

The team just wrapped up a successful regular season of Mathletics competitions for the 2011-2012 school year. At the November competition held at TreVista, Skinner 8th grader Olivia Friedman brought home 1st place. The second competition, hosted by Skinner in January, brought more accolades to the Skinner Mathletes as they competed against TreVista, Centennial, and Kepner. Both the 6th grade and the 7th/8th grade teams finished 2nd place. Individual highlights included: Olivia Friedman defended her 1st place crown to secure an undefeated season, and Mia Leff received 3rd place in the 6th grade competition.

Now that the Mathletic regular season competitions are over for the year, the Mathletes will take on two challenging projects: the MathCounts District Competition, and building a robot. The MathCounts competition, February 11 at the University of Denver, will feature the top 4 Skinner Mathletes competing against top Mathletes from across Denver Public Schools. To end the year, all Skinner Mathletes will build the Skinner Math Team robot. The students will use robotics materials from Edventures to create a robot that will be programmed to complete a variety of tasks. Coach Smith noted that he hopes this activity will lay the groundwork for Skinner Mathletes to take part in robotics competitions and other engineering related projects.

One of last year’s Mathletes summed up the Skinner Math Team experience best by saying, “Joining math team was one of the best things I’ve done my whole middle school life. I gained friends, more knowledge and of course winning first place didn’t hurt either.” Go Math Team!

Published Poets at Skinner

“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn,” as famous 18th century English poet Thomas Gray once wrote.

Turns out that Skinner students know quite a bit about writing breathing, burning poems – 24 6th grade poets will have their poems exploring personification published in A Celebration of Poets published by Creative Communication. These students are in the running for the competition’s “Top Ten” awards.

“We would like to congratulate you and your teaching efforts,” wrote assistant editor Shannon Hernandez to Skinner language arts teacher Jessica Goebel. “Clearly your students have a great talent for writing poetry but the teacher is the one who helps bring that talent to the surface.”

Consider this poem, written by 6th grader Avery Ahern:

The Rainstorm

A steady drum roll I hear
as your army chases the horizon
throwing a gray blanket over the world.
When you approach,
you unleash the fury of your crackling whip
and shower me in a thousand wet kisses,
which I return to you with a kiss of my own.
A welcome gift.
A goodbye present.
For soon you move on,
sharing your show with others
while the frightened sun curiously peeks out
from behind your gray clouds
boldly casting golden rays of light through the fading raindrops
creating a beautiful display of vivid colors;
after your thrilling performance

We are so proud of Avery and all the Skinner poets – and are grateful for outstanding Skinner teachers like Ms. Goebel! Stay tuned for more information about our poets and the contest. For more information, please visit

Fun for kids and adults at the Neighborhood Center

Did you know Skinner’s Neighborhood Center hosts educational and fun activities for kids, parents and the community – and they’re all free? Starting this week Skinner students can stay after school from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. for:

  • Robotics, Rocketry & Wrestling
  • Sports (Wednesdays)
  • Tutoring/Homework Help (Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays)
  • Teen Ambassadors (Mondays & Wednesdays)
  • Scorpion Splash Swimming (Tuesdays)
  • College 4 YOU (Fridays & some Saturdays)

Adult, community and family programming includes:

  • Intro to computer software (Tuesdays 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.)
  • Quick Fix Family Cooking (Thursdays 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., starting 1/19)
  • Water Aerobics (Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.)
  • Community Basketball (Tuesdays 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.)
  • Mexican Folklore Music (Tuesdays & Thursdays 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.)
  • Adult E.S.L (Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 9:00 a.m. – noon)

Come enjoy what Skinner has to offer at the Neighborhood Center! For details, please call Sandy Baca-Sandoval at 720-424-1475 or Brittnee Kidder-Davis at 720-424-1435.


Skinner students learn about pine beetle problem in Keystone

Skinner Middle School 6th graders embarked on a three-day experience of epic proportions in December. Seventy students lugged enormous bags on to our busses to begin a learning adventure at Keystone Science School.

The focus of this trip was to investigate the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic that is devastating the higher elevations of not only Colorado, but most alpine regions of North America.

As scientists, the students prepared themselves with background information on the insect and the challenges it is presenting to the resident stakeholders. While at Keystone, we learned even more about all of the stakeholders and the beetle’s impacts and wrapped up our visit with a town hall meeting during which students role played as stakeholders to discuss possible solutions that would satisfy all involved parties.

An annual field trip, the scope of the Keystone Science School experience was not only limited to science but also allowed students to gain new responsibilities, meet new friends and experience things that will create a lifetime of memories.
– Christopher Martin, Skinner 6th grade Science teacher

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