New "digs" for Aspen Community School students

Aug 31, 2015

A new school building replaces an aging log structure at the Aspen Community School.
Credit Marci Krivonen

The first day of school for students at a public charter school near Woody Creek meant more than new teachers and textbooks. Kids at the K-through-8 Aspen Community School spent their first day in a new school building. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen has more.

Students plopped in a semi-circle on the floor of the new Aspen Community School cheer loudly. It’s the first all-school assembly and Principal Jim Gilchrist is laying down ground rules.

"The number one thing we want to do at school every single day is to make sure everyone in our community feels safe, welcome and included."

Parts of today feel pretty typical, but it’s hard to ignore the new contemporary surroundings. The look is bright and natural and classrooms are outfitted with smartboards, or interactive white boards. This 13,000 square foot schoolhouse replaced an aging log structure. Lander McEnamee is an eighth grader.

"I think it’s really cool," he says. "It’s kind of hospital-like but it’s definitely very modern and I like it a lot."

A new gymnasium and community space is also part of the remodel of campus.
Credit Marci Krivonen

The schoolhouse is nice, but McEnamee and his friends are most excited about:

"I’m really looking forward to the gym. The gym is probably my favorite part. We didn’t have a gym last year. Last year there was maggots falling out of the roof."

That maggot sighting is unconfirmed but wouldn’t be too far-fetched. The old log school building made the list as one of Colorado’s lowest performing public school facilities. The school launched a major fundraising effort to build the $9.1 million project. Besides the school building and the gym, it includes new grass playing fields and employee housing.

But Monday’s all-school assembly wasn’t just about rules.

Visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks bless a box full of wishes from students.
Credit Marci Krivonen

Visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks blessed a box full of student submissions on lessons learned in the old building they’d like to carry into the new.

Renovations at the community school will continue. Phase two of construction includes a new amphitheater and music and science building.