Timber Griffin Theater Company is Born!

Something really special is happening in our community. The theater departments of Early College of Arvada and the Pinnacle Charter School have joined forces to better serve our community. Blending two short, but rich histories, they merge their stories on October 28,29 & 30th with their first production together, Sherlock Holmes. The students of both schools are so excited to share this show with you.

Last spring when ECA Director Kelly Bidstrup Graham and PCS Director Zachary Vaughn concocted this crazy plan, they worried about all the things that come with big changes. They chose to join forces because PCS has the facility, the resources, and a wonderful internship with Wonderbound, and ECA has the students, classes, and culture. They had no idea how incredibly well the two groups of students would mesh and how beautifully each program's strengths and weaknesses would compliment each other. Going by the name, TimberGriffin Theater Co., both directors and the students are looking forward to a bright future together for many years to come.

This fall production stars Logan Seabolt, a senior at ECA. He plays Sherlock Holmes, blending elements from all those who have played the part before him, he is virtually Sherlock in the flesh, having extensively researched and worked to perfect his role. Opposite Logan is a PCS student Dylan Carter, playing Watson. Dylan has embraced the character with all his heart, the not-quite-as-brilliant as Holmes, loveable and under appreciated sidekick. Dylan and Logan's chemistry is electric. From day one these two have been quite the pair. Watching them solve the case will be a delight to all audiences.

This excellent cast is filled with both rookies and old pros to both theater departments, some names patrons may recognize include; Amber Hall (leading lady, Katrina in Sleepy Hollow Spring 2016) playing nefarious suffragette leader Mrs. Bassick, Brenda Negrete (leading lady Betty in Betty's Inferno spring 2015) playing the damsel in distress Ms. Alice Faulkner, Daniel Urban (Thisbe and Flute in Midsummer Nights Dream spring 2016) playing the wife and criminal co-conspirator Mrs. Madge Larabee, Jaidyn Roquemore, (Ms. Green, Mad Breakfast fall 2015) playing the quirky Irish safecracker Sid Prince, and Sergio Luna Gonzalez (Oberon in Midsummer Night's Dream spring 2016) playing the criminal mastermind, Professor Moriarty.

Whether you've never heard of ECA or PCS or you're a true fan, you will enjoy this fall production, made with love and care. Come experience history in the making as we premiere the very first joint production of the TimberGriffin Theater Company. See you there! Call 720-473-4400 to reserve your tickets today.

As we prepare for a new year, we'd also like to highlight some of the professional work of Dr. Erica Hastert, ECA Math Teacher and Department Head.  Dr. Hastert is the Denver Local Events Coordinator for AMATYC (American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges) and is helping the organization with their annual conference which will be held in Denver this year.  Read more about the conference and Dr. Hastert's contributions here.

The Aspiration of my Exchange Year

Studying abroad comes with different purposes and motives. For some students, it is just to travel, familiarize with the place, experience new things, and find friends. But for several students, there’s a deeper reason why they go overseas to study.
My name is Jan Art Serna, 16 years of age, and I’m an exchange student from the Philippines. I’m just like one of those kids who dreamed of going to another country and experience new things, but I never thought that I was able to do it as part of my high school life. I was excited to engage myself in a global community. I came here because of the prestigious scholarship program that I passed. The program is called Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange Study year in America. It started after the 9-11 attack, and this was offered to outstanding Muslim students from countries with significant Muslim population. It’s main objective was to promote a mutual understanding between Muslims and Christians and break the misconceptions and stereotypes that are causing the world’s conflict. The goal of this program motivated me to leave my country for a while and go abroad as a Youth Ambassador to contribute on making a peaceful world for everybody.

Exchange students like me stay with a host family until the end of the year. Life here in the United States was a contrast from where I grow up, particularly when it comes to religion ideology. In Islam, we have food restrictions. First and foremost is no to pork, also Haram (forbidden or proscribed by Islamic law) foods. Adjusting to a new environment is one of the biggest fears of other people, but for me I told myself that I would get used to it soon. I chose to be here, and that means I have the responsibility to make myself comfortable.

There’s a lot of stuff that I enjoy about being here in Colorado. It’s the perfect state for me. When I heard the winter season was about to start, I freaked out and got really excited because I’ve never seen or touched snow. What I love about people here in Colorado, especially in school, is that they are so welcoming and friendly.

I am proud of myself that I was able to represent the entire country of Philippines on a larger perspective. Delineating Filipino culture, tradition, and values show the world what Islam teaches us as a Muslim. I want to tell some people that their perception about Islam or how they see it today is not the right thing. I am Muslim, and I care about peace and am willing to take a time to help people understand the truth. My advocacy of dreaming for a tranquil world is here to show that terrorism can be done regardless of what religion believe; we all deserve to be respected and loved. The world could be a better place if we all work for a greater cause.

Jan Serna, exchange student

Senior Year

Everyday it hits me that I’m a senior. It’s such a weird thing knowing that in just a couple of months I’ll be graduating. I’ve spent the past four years dreaming about graduating, and now the day is so close. There are only a few short months left to enjoy high school.

The last three years of high school went by in a blink of an eye and so has the past couple months. Just like my freshman year, I wanted to make this school year “the best year ever.” There are a lot of memorable moments that I’ve had in the previous years, like navigating my way around the school, but the one new thing I had to navigate was college applications. While I was trying to make the best out of my first semester as a senior, I was having anxiety about the whole college admission process. 

Since I was an underclassman I would always hear the seniors talking about the places and the people they will miss once they move. I knew at some point this was something I would never avoid because in the fall I’ll be leaving home. In five months I will probably be in New York, Hawaii, California, or Arizona. I’m excited to leave Colorado and start a new adventure once I start college, but I’m also terrified. I get caught up in nostalgia as the end of high schools begins to set in. I know that it will be such an emotional year as I begin to prepare for college and it will get even more sentimental when I have to say goodbye to my school, family, friends, and my pets. 

So far, I’ve made great memories. I’ve stressed over college applications and exams, and I am now stressing over graduation. As a senior, I felt that I was required to grow up in a short amount of time. As seniors, we are supposed to be focused and prepared for the unexpected and resolve any challenges that we may face. At the end, I know that with the support of my parents, friends, and teachers, I know that I’ll make it through the end of the year and be ready to tackle the next chapter of my life. 

Yasmeen Gomez, Senior, Class of 2016

Middle School Lounge

 Carrie Chan, Lily Li & Katie Tanner in the Middle School Lounge.

Carrie Chan, Lily Li & Katie Tanner in the Middle School Lounge.

At the beginning of second semester, the middle school students were presented with an extra incentive to using their SSM time wisely. A lounge was created in the middle school area complete with futon, lounge chairs, a really big screen TV, a Wii game system & games, a few board games, and movies.

Each student was given a Punch Card & Lounge Pass. Each time a student is busy studying to finish assignments, get course help or work on projects, that student gets one or two punches from the SSM teacher. Once a student has 10 punches, that student can turn their punch card in to spend their SSM time relaxing or having fun in the lounge.

To date, there have been 22 students who have spent an SSM period in the lounge. The biggest draw has been to the Wii games. When there have been more than two students in the lounge at a time, they happily take turns playing. Students are always sad when time is up and look forward to coming back.

Ms Bredine, Paraprofessional


Spring Musical Approaches: Sleepy Hollow

Photo Credit: Keith Graham Photography

The students and staff of The Early College of Arvada have been working tirelessly to produce their spring musical, Sleepy Hollow, produced by special arrangement with Pioneer Drama, showing April 8th and 9th, 2016. This reimagining of the Washington Irving classic is sure to get your toes tapping and have you on the edge of your seat. The music is catchy and quirky with nods to classic American music compositions, the characters are dynamic and full of life, and the sets are craftily engineered to take you away to the town of Sleepy Hollow.

This show is the largest ever for ECA. Our first official production was an arrangement of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. Mrs Graham built the set in her dining room out of paper and household items, students and parents made their costumes, and the show premiered for one night only in the cafeteria. We’ve come a long way in only three years. We are quickly building a tradition of excellence in music and theater. This year’s production will be at the Simpson’s United Methodist church, featuring an eight-piece pit orchestra conducted by the director Kelly Bidstrup Graham, a full stage crew with students dedicated to sound, stage management, set design, and directing, and a large cast of nearly twenty students. This is truly a joint project between staff and students, mimicking, in many ways, local community theater, where everyone does everything and everyone has a hand in making the show spectacular. 

This show has one of the largest casts we’ve produced, and our leads are some of the strongest performers in the student body. Katrina, the lovely Dutch belle, is played by Amber Hall. She’s a junior this year and started at ECA in 6th grade. She is a student leader in several organizations throughout the school, and in addition to being our leading lady, she’s the student producer! Ichabod Crane, the quirky school master, is played by Xander Bradeen, a senior this year who also started at ECA in 6th grade. He is a passionate performer and talented actor who is bringing a fresh look to this classic character. Our villains, Brom Bones and Yost, are played by Zachary Ellison and Logan Seabolt. Zachary, a senior, has been acting since early adolescence. His instincts and talent for theater are years beyond most students his age, and his professionalism for the art is unparalleled. Logan, a junior, is a Jack of all trades, a talented and experienced stage crew member as well as dynamic actor on stage, having done two shows with ECA and several productions with Westminster High School. Of course these are only a few of the amazing students who will be gracing the stage in April. This show is filled with the most talented students ECA has to offer and will be an incredible production at a level far beyond what most small charter schools are capable of producing. The reason? Creative staff like the director, Mrs Kelly Graham, and artistic director, Dr Liz Owen, dedicated parents, and supportive administration, not to mention amazing students who give 110%.

The community of ECA hopes you will come and enjoy this show. Theater is one of the greatest joys in life, and nothing compares to seeing a show live. The energy, the enthusiasm, and the magic that can be created on a wooden platform is truly special and unlike anything else. See you there.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today at ECA, we celebrate International Women’s Day! Internationally, the theme for the day this year is “Planet 50-50 by 2030.”

A student recently asked me if the gender wage gap in the US is a “myth.” The answer is, unfortunately, no. Here are some facts to consider as we celebrate the day.

The US ranks 28th out of 145 countries in a ranking of gender equality. —World Economic Forum

In the annual Global Gender Gap Index, The US fell eight places between 2014 and 2015. The report notes that during the year there was a slight drop in wage equality and governmental positions held by women. —World Economic Forum

Women are now more likely than men to enroll in college and complete bachelor’s degrees! In 2013, 37% of women between the ages of 25 and 29 had completed a bachelor’s, compared to 30% of men. —Pew Research Center

There are more women than men pursuing graduate-level education in the US. Between 2009 and 2010, women earned 62.6% of master’s degrees and 53.3% of PhD’s. —National Center for Education Statistics

In 2015, full-time female workers earned only 80.4% of the salaries of full-time male workers. —US Department of Labor.

Racial inequality supersedes gender inequality in salary disparity. In 2014, African-American women earned 63% of the salaries of white men, while Hispanic women were paid 54%. —The American Association of University Women

Only 24% of CEOs in the US are women, and female CEOs earn 74.5% of the salary of male CEOs. —Bureau of Labor Statistics

One in five women on US college campuses have experienced sexual assault. —The American Association of University Women

Studies show that men are more likely to interrupt women in conversation. —Journal of Language and Social Psychology 

Congratulations to World History Students

Students in World History have been tackling difficult issues this week in class with maturity and thoughtfulness. After a unit focused on imperialism, students participated in discussions about Africa – past and present. They confronted media stereotypes, residual political and economic effects of imperialism, and what type of aid America should provide to countries confronting poverty or political conflict. I would like to congratulate these students on their willingness to dive into difficult topics and discuss them with depth and compassion. It is so fun to watch ECA students develop into such thoughtful, passionate, balanced young people!

–Katy Warrick, Social Studies Teacher

Our Gymnast Group

It is the thing we work hardest for that will reward us the most.
— Anonymous

Even before the sun rises, six of ECA’s students are hard at work. Gymnastics starts at 7 am, and we practice a total of five and a half hours a day. Even though we are with many of our friends, it’s not all fun and games. Being one of the top gyms in the state, 5280 Gymnastics is a prestigious gym with Olympic caliber training. Five and a half hours of gymnastics is hard to fit into one day but with the help of ECA, we can have the best of both worlds. ECA provides us with high academics while still having the opportunity to take the time to fulfill our athletic dreams.

Out of ten levels, Max Kephart is level seven. Kyler Hartley, Kaleb Hartley, Andrew Linz, and Julia Butler are level eight. Noah Giordano is level nine. Men have six events (floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, p-bars, and highbar). Women have four events (vault, uneven bars, balance beam, and floor). In these higher levels, we can do double backflips on floor and also off the bars. Back handsprings and backflips are done on beam, and flips while twisting on almost all of the events.

We have many competitions against numerous gymnasts in amazing places. There are local meets, state meets, regional (multiple states) meets, and nationals, all of which we have attended. Bigger competitions have taken place in California, Utah, and Florida. Our skills are hard to perfect and do safely, so every morning before school we have an hour of conditioning. Throughout the day, we accomplish about an hour on every event and some additional conditioning at the end. This is not easily done during the school year, but with the help of ECA we have the time and opportunity to be at the gym.

ECA has a fantastic director, Mr Covington, who fits our schedule to meet our needs. This allows us to be at gymnastics before and after school missing 1st and 6th period (electives) while still obtaining all of our middle school credits. We thank ECA and all its teachers for the support and care they’ve shown us; they have allowed us to be able to do the thing we love, gymnastics!

Julia Butler, 8th Grader