Colorado

Students line up to question Albright

The three students waiting to walk onstage chatted about Model United Nations. One held a large red bow that dwarfed the small black box beneath it. Another hoped she wouldn’t mispronounce her words.

Students from Denver area high schools share the stage with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Friday.

They were typical high school juniors, if not better dressed than most, and they were about to share the stage with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Albright was at the Denver Art Museum Friday to promote her collection “Read My Pins,” which opens to the general public Sunday and runs through June 17.

As Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001 and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations before that, Albright was known for her pins and how they shaped her diplomacy.

“Other ambassadors would ask, ‘What is going to happen today?’ and I would say, ‘Read my pins,’” Albright said. “I always tried to make foreign policy more interesting to people.”

Denver area students descend on DAM to hear Albright

Albright didn’t need to do much to peak the interest of more than 200 students from Denver area schools, all at the DAM for a special Q&A session with her. When it came time for questions, the moderator told students not to be shy and approach the microphones: she was shocked when the lines stretched from the front of the 275-person auditorium to the back.

Jhonatan Netzahuatl Cuamatzi from Alameda High School, Catherine Puga from Cherry Creek High School and Ryyan Chacra from Kent Denver School were the three students pre-selected to share the stage with Albright and ask the first questions. All plan to pursue international relations at the college level and feel lucky they were picked for such an honor.

“My (Advanced Placement) government teacher knew some of the coordinators so he had everyone in the class pick a number between 1 and 20,” Puga said. “I picked 17 and it was the right number.”

Chacra was picked because of his role as an executive team member of his school’s Model UN club. Netzahuatl Cuamatzi says he is a fan of art and just wanted to come.

Twenty-six schools participated in the Q&A session and asked questions ranging from the personal to policy. Students brought up Cuba, Iran, the Arab Spring and the war in Afghanistan so that Albright could weigh in on each situation.

But Albright said, more than any of fears related to those issues, the economic situation is the biggest threat to the United States and the biggest world issue is the gap between rich and poor.

“Poor people know what the rich have,” Albright said. “People that are completely alienated are recruitable, and it’s just not right.”

Albright stresses importance of social media

Albright, 74, stressed the importance of social media when trying to change the world and cracked jokes to brighten the tone for the teens after discussing heavy issues.

“When I went to school back in the Dark Ages, it was somewhere between the invention of the BlackBerry and the invention of fire,” Albright said. “I was a bit of a nerd.”

For the future leaders in the audience, Albright recommended being a nerd.

“You need to know what you are talking about, nothing can be done without hard work,” Albright said. “You can’t be a good leader if you think you know what everybody wants without talking with them.”

Albright revealed it never occurred to her she could be the Secretary of State until it happened. Now her 7-year-old granddaughter doesn’t understand why it was a big deal because, apparently, “only girls are Secretary of State.”

As Albright left the stage to a standing ovation, a teacher in the audience called for her to come back. The student with the box had forgotten to give Albright her present. It was a pin — a Sun Devil, the mascot of her high school alma mater Kent Denver.

Kelly Lane is a CU-Boulder student studying journalism who is interning at EdNews’ sister site, www.EdNewsParent.org.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.