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Safety first


New principal at West Jeff Middle School was a hero in her previous position

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fices. The school supplied the paint, and volunteers supplied the brush strokes. The result is bright-colored walls just waiting for excellence awards, student artwork and event posters.

Staff Writer

The new principal at West Jefferson Middle School, Becky Brown, is widely known for having the well-being of students as her top priority. Brown was the assistant principal at Deer Creek Middle School when a gunman opened fire outside the school in March , wounding two students. After teacher David Benke tackled the suspect, Brown grabbed the shooter’s weapon and tossed it away. “I didn’t think anyone would do that to kids,” Brown said. “You just can’t hurt kids.” Brown is determined to keep West Jeff a safe environment, but she’ll also champion excellence in learning. Her motto: If kids don’t feel safe, learning suffers. “Kids come to middle school, and they sometimes are frightened, but it’s in these grades that they mature, learn and grow,” Brown said. “In middle school, most kids are fulfilled and are ready for high school.” Brown plans to have a high profile this school year. She’ll visit classrooms, visit with students during break times, and work with the Parent Teacher Student Association and accountability groups. Being visible, Brown said, is a way to reach kids and staff. Like her predecessor, principal Frank LaViolette, Brown believes that middle school is the best place


New faces at West Jeff Middle School

New at the school this year are: • assistant principal Kim Halingstad, who is a former instructional coach from Dunstan Middle School, • librarian Kim Meyer, • language arts teacher Jennifer Langford, • facilities manager Chris Isabell, • principal’s secretary Toni Armstrong • locker room aide Carl Cox.

Brown’s background

Although this is Brown’s first time as a principal, she spent four years as an assistant principal and two years as an instructional coach, helping teachers improve as educators. Brown has taught second, third and fourth grades, and facilitated staff development. She attended Colorado Christian University and graduated with a degree in elementary education and liberal arts, and received her master’s degree in administrative studies from the University of Colorado. Brown was raised in Greeley and has been married to her husband, Hal, for  years. They have three grown children. She said she knows Jeffco schools prepare students well: All three of her kids attended Jeffco schools, and all were more than prepared for college. In her spare time, she loves to tackle crossword and jigsaw puzzles and root for the Rockies and Broncos. She loves the mountains and spends as much time as possible camping and riding an ATV.

Photo by BARBARA FORD | The Times

Becky Brown, West Jeff Middle School’s new principal. for kids to make mistakes, because the consequences aren’t as farreaching. Brown said her first priority at her new school is to begin building relationships with the people who make the school special. Her order of importance is kids first, the school second and the adults third. “If you build good relationships, you will eventually build good

trust,” Brown said. She gladly accepted the position at West Jeff and immediately saw how important the school is to the mountain community. She sees a place for events such as Town Hall meetings and a home for extracurricular activities. In turn, Brown said, the community has already responded to a call for help in painting the school’s of-

Future plans

Brown likes the technology available to students at West Jeff, but she hopes to upgrade the equip-

ment and kids’ skills along with it. A former district technologist, she trained teachers how to use everything from Microsoft Word to SMART boards. “We need to enhance the technology and see how teachers are using it in the classrooms,” she said. “Kids today are very visual learners, and we have to enhance their learning with technology.” Uppermost in Brown’s mind is tackling all the challenges inherent in being a new principal. And she is most passionate about kids learning in a safe and supportive environment. “With this being my first year here, I’m looking forward to the challenges that will come,” Brown said. Contact Barbara Ford at or -. Check www.HighTimberTimes .com for updates.

285 Optimist Club aims to help area youths

New service group forms in Conifer

here, but they always have needs, and we’ll help do our part.” To fi nd out more information about the  Optimist Club, visit www.

Contact Barbara Ford at or -. Check www.High for updates.

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Conifer’s newest service organization is optimistic about helping kids and the community. George Ofiesh of Conifer is the president and founding member of the  Optimist Club and sees an opportunity to help make the area a better place. “The goal is to bring out the best in kids,” Ofiesh said of the club’s mission to help young people with anything from sports to education to health. “While trying to build our club, we are looking for organizations that need help.” The club is part of Optimist International, which each year takes part in , service projects and serves more than  million young people. A celebration and charter meeting will be held at : p.m. Monday, Sept. , at the Mountain Resource Center,  Kitty Drive. The event is part celebration, part regular meeting and an opportunity for those interested to learn more about the fledgling club. Dues are  a year, and meetings are tentatively scheduled for the first and third Monday

help keep the club’s doors open. Members also volunteered to help at the Deer Creek Challenge, which benefited the Mountain Resource Center, and with a fundraiser at Bandimere Speedway to benefit the Second Wind Fund, a program that fi nds ways to stop teen suicide. “It’s small things that can make a difference,” Ofiesh said. Ofiesh said the club is trying to organize a toy drive for the Conifer Christmas parade. Ofiesh said this is the first club he’s founded, and he’s not sure what challenges lie ahead, but he said so far the community has been receptive. “I think it will bring people together to do some goods for kids,” he said. “There are good schools up


Staff Writer

evenings of the month. Currently, the club has  members. For the next  days, they’ll hold open their charter for new members, and those who join before Nov.  will be considered charter members. Ofiesh, who is also a member of the Lakewood Optimist Club, said all the money raise by the club goes directly to its community service. Ofiesh said the  Optimist Club will support local schools with fund-raisers for programs such as Tech for All, which provides refurbished computers to kids and families. When the group found out about the fi nancial troubles facing the Boys & Girls Club of Park County, it sponsored an ice cream social, with the proceeds going to


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