Native American History of Estes Park

3rd grade teacher and Estes Thrives strategic partner, Erinn Wharton reached out to the Estes Park History Museum to see if they could collaborate and teach a Native American unit to the 3rd grade learners. 

On November 21st and 22nd, Curator of Education,  Alicia Rochambeau visited four of the Estes Park Elementary School classrooms to share a slide show about the Native Americans that used to live in Estes Park.  Rochambeau also led a Native American craft that each child was able to take home. 

The Native American culture is a celebrated part of living in the Estes Valley, and many different festivals and happenings in town throughout the year help to highlight their many traditions.  The third grade team is very grateful for the partnership with the Estes Park Museum and really enjoyed learning about the local heritage. 



Cherry Creek Artrepeneur Grant Helps Start a Teaching Collection at EPMS

Submitted by Karen McPherson, Outreach Coordinator 

In 2016, Estes Park Schools were awarded a Cherry Creek Artrepeneur Grant. Janus Capital Group funds the grant, which provides a $500 purchasing budget to roughly twenty schools across Colorado. Middle School students use the money to purchase art at the Cherry Creek Art Festival, a nationally recognized art and craft show held each year in Denver over the July 4th weekend. Art purchased in 2016 allows Estes Park Schools to start a permanent art teaching collection. Two middle school students, Evan Schaefer (entering 9th grade) and Makayla Fraley (entering 7th grade) attended the event with Karen McPherson, the Estes Park Outreach Coordinator and grant facilitator.


On a Roll
Benjamin Frey, multi-media collage artist
Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

We were looking for art that referenced our town. We listed many things we associate with Estes Park including wildlife (specifically bears), bikes and outdoor activities, including festivals. We also talked about the texture of the landscape and the rock layers. This piece has all of those elements. It feels fun. And we like the title, learning how to keep rolling is a good lesson. – Evan and Makayla

Process: The first layer is a series of 1910 Encyclopedia pages referencing bears.  This base has a layer of large, gestural acrylic paint applied; the bear is a stencil. 




Digital Prints on Wood Blocks
Shawn Ray Harris
San Francisco, CA

We chose these because they are humorous and absurd… animals doing people things. We like the way he makes eating broccoli seem cool. – Evan and Makayla

Process: The artist puts on costumes and poses for the pictures. So he dressed up as a bear, pretending to hold something. Then, he adds other images (like broccoli) with a digital editing program.




Fred Pichon
Denver, CO

Estes Park has a lot of visitors. There are a lot of campers. This Airstream camper has a silver outside and reflects whatever environment it is in. This one reflects the mountains and the water. The artist talked to us about how important is to learn and understand the world by drawing it.  – Evan and Makayla

Process: The artist drew and then painted the camper. He thought it needed a hard horizontal line so he added duct tape that he cut out to go around the camper. It is a combination of neon and quiet.



EPHS students, clubs rally to repair Fish Creek's flood damage

By T.A. Rustin
POSTED:   09/29/2016 03:52:50 PM MDT

Students from Estes Park High School teamed up with ecology experts from the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition on Wednesday to help rebuild the ecosystem along lower Fish Creek. That area was devastated by the flood in 2013, washing away vegetation, eroding the banks, destroying the utility infrastructure, and damaging homes.

The Coalition has been working for the last year to restore areas damaged by the flood. They selected this area of Fish Creek as their first project, according to Molly Mills, Coordinator of the Coalition. Nearly a year ago, she met with Chuck Scott, principal of the high school, and asked if the Coalition could work on restoring the river banks adjoining school property.

"I asked him for permission to work on school property," she recalled, "and he said, 'Only if you involve the kids and make this a learning experience,'" said Mills.

Mills agreed at once to the plan, and she took the responsibility for securing grant funding and obtaining legal permission to work on the river banks. That required several months, since there are numerous overlapping jurisdictions involved in the Fish Creek watershed.

Photo Courtesy of the Trail Gazette 

Photo Courtesy of the Trail Gazette 

With guidance from teacher Alex Harris, the high school's Environmental Club began planning and recruiting their classmates for this event. Mills did some training with the students, teaching them about riverine ecology, and the proper techniques for planting trees. The students in the club then created training materials for the student volunteers.

"This has been a student-run project the whole way," said Mills. "I brought the idea to them, and the funding; they organized the volunteers, mapped it out, and got the logistical support."

Carlie Rosenkrance, a member of the club, agreed that the project has optimistic goals.

"Anything helps," she said. "If we keep working at it, in a few years we'll see a big change."

Beginning early in the morning on Wednesday, students transported plants and supplies in pickup trucks to three areas along Fish Creek. More than 300 students arrived and split into teams to get to work on the riverbank. They began by pulling and bagging noxious weeks that have proliferated since the flood. They also cleared the banks of accumulated flood debris and trash.

The Coalition brought in 3,000 trees, provided by the Colorado State Forest Service. The specific species had been selected by Mills in consultation with ecology experts. They included river birch, alder, chokecherry, and cottonwood. Mills's ecology consultants marked the locations for each tree. Working in teams, the students dug holes, planted the trees, and carried buckets of water from Fish Creek to water them.

Nearly the entire student body has been involved in this project, including the Culinary Arts class, which planned and prepared lunch for the students, teachers and volunteers. Students in the Film Studies are making a documentary to tell the story of the project. The faculty and administrators also supported the project.

"All the teachers are participating," said math teacher Kenzee Dennis as she stuffed weeds into a black plastic trash bag.

Marsha Weaver, who teaches Civics and Geography, praised the work ethic of the students working around her: "Some of them really like it!"

English teacher Dan Copeland worked right alongside his students, pulling weeks and clearing debris. Part supervisor, part mentor, part cheerleader—it was apparent that the students appreciated his commitment to their project.

Sheldon Rosenkrance, Superintendent of Schools for the School District, walked from group to group, talking with teachers and students, admiring their cooperative spirit.

"We want to be part of our community," he said. "It's important that our kids realize that we're not isolated from the rest of the town." He surveyed the students pulling weeds and digging holes. "It's an opportunity for our kids to learn to cooperate, to work with other people, to learn real world skills, and to make our town better," he said.

Photo Courtesy of the Trail Gazette

Photo Courtesy of the Trail Gazette

Randy Mandel, representing the Colorado Water Conservation Board, walked among the groups of students. A water and ecology specialist, Mandel explained to the students how their efforts would improve the watershed. Mandel noticed a student struggling with the root ball of a tree. He bent down and guided her in the proper technique.

"We gotta make sure we've got the soil firmly pressed around it, so there are no holes," he told the student, and moved on to the next group.

Gary Miller, President of the Coalition, said that the flood impacted Fish Creek more severely than any other area in the Estes Valley, and therefore was chosen as the first project.

"The Coalition was formed to bring together organizations interested in sustainable restoration of the flood damaged areas," he said. The Estes Valley has seen three 500 year floods since 1979, and Miler predicted that we should expect more in the future. "We need to be prepared for the next huge event," he said. He pointed out that this project has served to educate the students about the broader problem of environmental disasters.

Mills said that this is the first phase of the revegetation of the Fish Creek watershed. The next phase will be putting up fencing around the young trees to encourage the elk and deer to browse elsewhere.

"Otherwise," she said, "they will eat everything we've planted."

In the next few months, the Coalition will be mulching the area and broadcasting native grass seeds to improve the ground cover.

As the students finished planting the last of the 3000 trees, Mills surveyed the creekbed with Scott.

"This is fantastic," she said. "They've done a tremendous job. It's been incredible to watch these kids come together."

Photo Courtesy of the Trail Gazette 

Photo Courtesy of the Trail Gazette 

"It's a good day," Scott said, summarizing the experience.



Costa Rica Science Exchange

The science exchange trip is an annual high school trip to Monteverde, Costa Rica. The purpose of the trip is two fold. First and foremost the trip is an opportunity for students at Estes Park High School to become educated about the Monteverde cloud and rain forest ecosystems. The second component of the trip is immersion in Costa Rican culture and Spanish language. Students attending the exchange spend 10 days in the ecological preserves of Monteverde learning about the unique cloud and rainforest ecosystems. While on the trip students considered an overarching science question “What specific adaptations have organisms developed to survive in the Rocky Mountain and Montverde ecosystems?” After drawing comparisons to ecosystems in Rocky Mountain National Park and Monteverde, the students distilled their observations and experiences into presentation. On the final day of the trip our students made their presentation to park officials, city government staff, and Monteverde students.



Estes Park High School Student Anna Weibel Commits to Sacramento State

Story and Photos courtesy of BC Denver Basketball Organization 

Congrats to 2017 F/C Anna Weibel on her official commitment to Sacramento State!

Weibel took an official visit to Sacramento this weekend to tour campus, meet the Hornets coaching staff and spend some time with current players. It didn't take long to realize this was home for continuing her education and playing career on the next level.

Anna attends Estes Park HS and has been a member of the BC Denver Family for 3 years. She is a tremendous example of what hard work, patience and determination can achieve! We are so proud of you Anna and thankful to have been a part of your D1 dream making ride!



The Hysterical History of the Trojan War...

A humorous display of theatre perfection

August 4th, 2016 by Laura Smith

"Break a leg" was quietly murmured around the Estes Park club last Thursday and Friday as club members from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Larimer County Estes Park location geared up for their theatre debut of "The Hysterical History of the Trojan War."

"The Hysterical History of the Trojan War," a play by D.M. Larson is a historical overview of the Trojan War with humorous tidbits thrown in. Because history is always easier to understand and remember when you have a slight stitch in your side.

Club Members of Estes Park worked extremely hard on this production and were rewarded with a packed house and plenty of applause.

As part of the BGCLC summer plan to educate and immerse youth in a variety of activities, this performance was just one of many valuable experiences club members were able to experience this season.

If you weren't able to catch this showing, make sure to mark your calendar for yet another Estes Park performance on Aug. 10 at 5 p.m. at Performance Park as club members perform with Ballet Renaissance to conclude an amazing summer.

Hats off to you club members, keep up the great work!



Estes Park Elementary School Garden Club

The Estes Park Elementary School Community Garden plot is doing very well!  As part of the newly formed Estes Park Elementary Garden Club, the members took advantage of a plot in the Community Garden that was built earlier in 2016 and planted various crops such as kale, radishes, beets, carrots and pumpkins.  Sponsor Erinn Wharton and Boys and Girls Club director, Adam Jaramillo recently met with their students in the club to harvest kale, mixed greens and radishes.  Each child took a bag of greens and a bunch of radishes home with them.  



Estes Park Mountain Festival

What do you do when you combine Arbor Day, Earth Day, and Mountain Culture?

1st Annual Estes Park Mountain Festival
Estes Park, CO
April 29th, 2016 9:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Estes Park Events Complex

The Estes Park Mountain Festival is a celebration of Estes Park's natural resources, heritage and obligation to be responsible stewards of our land.  Combining Arbor Day and Earth Day with a celebration of our cultural heritage, the Estes Park Mountain Festival looks to celebrate how important it is for us to continue to be responsible stewards of our land, as well as celebrate who we are as a unique mountain community in the majestic Rocky Mountains of Estes Park, Colorado. 

Estes Park has been base camp for daring outdoor adventurers in the majestic Rocky Mountains for many centuries now.  About 10,000 years ago, the Estes Valley attracted the Native American tribes of the Ute and Arapahoe, whose families summered in the Estes Park area and wintered in the Middle Park region south of Grand Lake. 

Around the year 1800, adventurers from the East began arriving, and one of the first organized explorations to see the Rockies was led by Major Stephen H. Long in 1820.  These "mountain men" came in search of beaver pelts, bear skins and adventure. 

As a modern community, we have settled in the Estes Valley for many of the same reasons as our predecessors- because of its magnificent beauty.  To this day, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado have a draw unlike any other.  

What are the goals of the Estes Park Mountain Festival? 

  • Educate future generations about the importance of responsible land stewardship 
  • Celebrate our cultural heritage in the Estes Valley 
  • Share our passion for the Rocky Mountains 

How can you help? 

We are looking for groups and organizations that would like to be a part of this community celebration of who we are as stewards of the Estes Valley.  Please let us know if you have something that can contribute in a way that aligns with the mission of celebrating our land, our people, and our heritage.  

Please feel free to reach out to the festival coordinator, John Bryant at 




Estes Thrives Receives a Grant from OtterCares Foundation

Estes Thrives is pleased to announce that they have received a grant from the OtterCares Foundation in the amount of $2700.00 to orchestrate three pilot programs for the initiative.  

The Tile Mural Project, hosted by the middle school art program will use funds raised through sale of student created canvas murals to complete a community project that has languished unfinished since 2006.  The Electric Guitar Project will support a high school engineering class that is making electric guitars from scratch, and the Bike Charger Project will engineer a green solution to the problem of middle schoolers neglecting to charge their iPads at home.  

This funding will ensure that these three ideas move past the idea stage and provide momentum to the Estes Thrives initiative.  While an array of projects emerged from the Estes Thrives event last May, these three projects share a need for specialized materials and tools that our district was not able to supply.  This grant will allow the instructors to purchase tools and materials and get to work, painting tiles, retooling old bicycles and building musical instruments. 

We look forward to following the progress of these three exciting projects, stay tuned for more details, photos and updates! 



Cultural Quilt Project

The Cultural Quilt Project is a project that spurred from the collaboration of the School Culture Task Force and the Fall Principal Book Study on the book "Culture of Hope".   Take a look at this amazing project! 



Estes Park Unplugged Club

The Estes Park Unplugged Club 

The Estes Park Unplugged Club is a club within the school district that focuses on getting our younger kids out and about in this wonderful place we all call home!  They have been up and running for 3+ years now and meet on a monthly basis.  The Unplugged Club is currently  the only club for grades K-2.  

From gathering at the Estes Park Observatory for the Lunar Eclipse to a fun Scavenger Hunt walk around Lily Lake, this club is committed to get the children in this community "Unplugged"!  Other past activities include snowshoeing, ice skating, hiking, swimming and so much more.  Sombrero Stables donates a one hour horseback ride every spring, and the Unplugged Club also partners with local organizations such as RMNP, RMNC and the EVPRD.  

Living in Estes Park, we are so fortunate to have the beautiful scenery and resources in our back yard that help us to enjoy an active and adventurous lifestyle.  

Great job to club leaders Anne Leija and Libby Widlic on their time and effort in bringing this experience to our children and community! 



What happened on Estes Thrives Day?

We want to express a big thanks to everyone who helped with Estes Thrives Day! It was a resounding success, thanks to the help of many students, staff, and community members. Check out what happened and watch the video students made!

Middle School

Middle schoolers participated in a variety of service projects. Check out this awesome video made by a team of students (Charly, Tucker, Kyra, Jana, Noah, Cody, Noel, Hayden, Ian, Lucas, and Joseph), with coaching and assistance from local videographer Brian Brown. Thanks, Brian!

Elementary School

Grade schoolers had a terrific Arbor Day experience, learning about trees and planting. There was too much rain to plant, but they got as close as possible and learned a lot along the way!

In addition, 50 elementary students were selected to become Wellness Ambassadors through a collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club. These kids will have a variety of opportunities coming up to learn about wellness, share their knowledge with others, and teach by example. In their first act as Wellness Ambassadors, these students made cool posters expressing the benefits of bikes to wellness. And they each got a cool gift from the community to help get them started. (Read on for more about that.)

High School

High schoolers helped with planning service learning projects for the Fall. (Service learning is a kind of applied learning that brings additional relevance and meaning to the skills students have learned—while providing interesting opportunities to learn new skills in a way that the knowledge is most likely to "stick.")

Several community members also joined the high school students. Together they did a team activity where they put together fifty mountain bikes. In addition to learning about working as a team to make a difference, they had a chance to give those bikes to the Wellness Ambassadors, to help them with their mission! Wellness Ambassadors had an opportunity to stand and take an oath to uphold wellness in Estes Park. These kids will be great examples in our community!

Here's a video of the high schoolers sending the Wellness Ambassadors on their way!

Thanks again to everyone who had a part in Estes Thrives Day! The Estes Thrives program is off to a great start.



Estes Thrives Day: Friday, May 15

On Friday, May 15, more than 1,000 students from Estes Park schools will join with community members and educators for Estes Thrives Day, a community service event. Students will work in teams alongside adults to tackle projects including tree planting, painting, and cleanup—and to plan ahead for future projects.

As the school year comes to a close, we want to reflect on how lucky we are to live in such a caring, beautiful, and inspiring community. So many community members and organizations give time and resources to our students every year. Estes Thrives Day is a chance for us to give back.
— Ruby Bode, Principal of Estes Park Middle School

This day of service launches Estes Thrives, a youth driven community engagement initiative aimed at bringing the whole Estes Park community together to create a bright future. The Estes Park School District is coordinating the ongoing initiative, which will help students bring purpose and passion to their learning careers through connections to the world beyond school walls.

Education is about preparing our students for the future—their future and ours. Our students learn better when we give them opportunities to creatively apply their knowledge and skills in ways that make a difference. These young people have so much to offer our community, and when they do, everybody wins.
— Sheldon Rosenkrance, Superintendent of Estes Park School District

Fifty students, school staff, and community members gathered on May 6th to generate ideas for projects, including public art, youth-senior activities, and collaborations with businesses and National Parks.

Our community has gone through a lot recently: the flood, the fire, and now three students have died in the last few months. Some communities might lose hope, but our community is so willing to help, full of love, and close. It’s nice to be a part of a community like this.
— Tristin Myers, a sophomore at Estes Park High School

During Estes Thrives Day, approximately 300 high school students will apply their creativity to planning ahead for future projects to be implemented during the 2015-2016 school year, while about 270 middle school students will work on hands-on projects, including:

  • Seeding grass and cleanup at Mary's Lake Campground with Estes Valley Rec District.
  • Planting flowers in front of the middle school to beautify the campus.
  • Giving back to our teachers through random acts of kindness.
  • Painting the storage units at the aquatic center and football practice field.
  • Designing a mural to paint on the football stadium.
  • Visiting businesses and delivering thank you cards.
  • Cleaning up the campus at the YMCA of the Rockies.
  • Raking the school grounds.
  • Creating white hearts to decorate the American Legion, for the Ride for Aurora event. 
  • Designing and beginning to create a Memorial Garden for lost loved ones.

Elementary school students will also participate by planting trees as part of an Arbor Day program sponsored by the Town of Estes Parks and the Parks Advisory Board.

Organizations and individuals interested in partnering with Estes Park Schools as part of the Estes Thrives initiative are invited to contact Superintendent Sheldon Rosenkrance.

Check back soon for photos and stories about all the projects!