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On Feb. 20, Greenwood Village Police Department will be conducting a training exercise at Aspen Academy, 5859 S. University Blvd. The training will take place from 3:30 – 7 p.m. and is only a drill. The drill will involve mobile command centers, SWAT teams and a possible “large” police presence.
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Littleton boasts highest in metro area
By Peter Jones
Arapahoe County’s two largest school districts are continuing to see upturns in high school graduation rates, according to newly released data from the Colorado Department of Education.
As it has in recent years, Littleton Public Schools continues to boast the highest graduation rate in the Denver metropolitan area with more than 90 percent of the district’s high school students graduating in four years or less during the 2011-2012 school year
The neighboring Cherry Creek Schools is inching behind Littleton with more than 87 percent of its 2012 seniors finishing in four years – up from 84 percent.
By comparison, Colorado’s on-time graduation rate is 75.4 percent and the national rate is almost 72 percent.
The two districts’ dropout rates are also moving in the right direction. Littleton’s is less than 1 percent while Cherry Creek saw 2 percent of its students leave school without a diploma. The statewide dropout rate is 2.9 percent.
Ethnic classifications within the districts have shown improvement for on-time completions. Cherry Creek’s rate for Hispanic graduates rose more than 5 percent to a total of 79 percent, about 17 percentage points above the statewide figure. Littleton’s Hispanic graduation rate was 77.6 percent, up from last year’s 76.9.
Similarly, Cherry Creek’s graduation rate for black students was 84 percent, well above the statewide rate of 66 percent. Littleton’s black students finished on time at a rate of 83.3 percent.
Whites and Asians in Cherry Creek had graduation rates around 90 percent, with white graduations increasing by nearly 3 percent. Littleton graduated 100 percent of its Asian students and 92 percent of whites.
Cherry Creek spokeswoman Tustin Amole says that district’s numbers reflect the organization’s focus on outreach to the various demographic groups it serves. Forty-three percent of the student population is African, Asian or Hispanic and 27 percent of the district’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
“The schools work with student leaders and parents – that’s a key part of it,” Amole said. “Students from different cultures learn a little differently. Instead of focusing on how we teach, we focus on how kids learn.”
That mission has manifested in a number of ways, from elementary-level reading books with “relatable characters” to parent-staff collaborations that have strived to improve the classroom experience at middle and high school levels.
“These numbers show us that we are moving in the right direction and serving the needs of all our students, regardless of race, poverty, language and mobility,” Cherry Creek Superintendent Mary Chesley said in a statement. “Still, we must use this momentum to continue our work until every student can receive a high school diploma that shows they are college and work ready.”
For Littleton’s part, district spokeswoman Diane Leiker gives much of the credit to the organization’s “professional learning communities.”
For 10 days each year, school starts two hours late so groups of teachers can meet in an effort to identify challenges and work out locally based solutions.
“It gives teachers an opportunity to discuss individual student needs and look at data to really drill down to find out the needs of each individual student and how to address those needs,” Leiker said. “It’s a time to share some of their best thinking and best practices to help all of our kids achieve at their highest level.”
Leiker says while Littleton’s accelerated programs ensure that high-achieving students are challenged to live up to their potential, the district’s alternative education programs try to keep at-risk students on track for graduation.
Parents have played an important role too, Leiker said.
“We have a very supportive parent community and a very supportive community in general,” she said.
The latest public art installation in Cherry Hills Village, Flying Cranes, is shown in computer-generated position at the intersection of Happy Canyon and Quincy.
By Jan Wondra
The location of the next public art installation in Cherry Hills Village was approved at the Feb. 5 City Council meeting. The installation, by Colorado-based sculptor and artist Reven Swanson, is titled Flying Cranes.
The three-crane kinetic sculpture will rest in public space near the intersection of Happy Canyon and Quincy Avenue. To be constructed of 11-gauge plate steel, each crane will be colored in vibrantly-colored powder coat finishes of blue, green and orangey-red, contrasted with yellow. Set into a natural environment of trees and a grassy berm, the whimsical cranes will spin and move in the wind.
“For the placement of public art work, I had to consider, most importantly, appropriateness. The design for a signature and site-specific sculpture must meet the prerequisite of both a drive-by and pedestrian sculpture,” Swanson said. “The installation must fit appropriately with the natural elements of the location, as well as the neighborhood character.”
Under the direction of the new Cherry Hills Village Art Commission, public art is being directed toward neighborhood gathering places and natural sites suitable to the intent of the art.
“The kinetic movement has an emotional and physical connection to the migration of the cranes,” Swanson said.
The image is an environmental message as well. Cranes are among the most endangered bird species in the world and were the first species to receive U.S. legislative protection. Of the two types of cranes native to North America, the Whooping Crane is critically endangered, with only 500 birds estimated to be left in the wild. The Sand Hill Crane, the most common in Colorado, is also an endangered species.
Each vibrant, joyful crane will fly 10 feet off the ground, on installation poles set into subset concrete pads masked by natural materials. The three cranes will line up as if in migration pattern. Like birds in flight, they will shift and move as the direction of the wind shifts, just as wind currents in flight cause birds to adjust their flight patterns.
“As visitors travel past the sculpture, whether by foot or vehicle, the installation will be ever-changing,” said Swanson, “making the visual image fresh with every visit or approach to the site.”
The CHVAC was careful to consult with community groups as the site selection planning got underway.
“We had members of the horseback riding community look at the site and the model,” said Councilwoman Klasina Vanderwerf, who is the council liaison to the CHVAC. “The committee wanted to be sure that the kinetic movement wouldn’t frighten horses. But we received feedback that the height of the cranes, and the location, are just fine with the horse people.”
The steel sculptures will be fabricated in studio and installation is projected for early to mid-May. The body of work is on indefinite loan to Cherry Hills Village. The installation cost of $6,250 is recoverable if at some point in the future the piece is sold.
“This is a signature piece,” said Mayor Doug Tisdale. “It’s a joyful, one-of-a-kind addition that will be a wonderful public statement about life and existence, right at a major entrance to the community.”
Gene Sarmiento of SparkleWash removes blue graffiti markings from the brick wall the 4400 block of South Yosemite in the Cherry Creek Village community of Greenwood Village on Jan. 30. The city has a minor problem with graffiti as it removes the tags quickly by utilizing professional contractors.Photo by Tom Barry
By Tom Barry
The Greenwood Village community erected 8 – 12 foot brick walls beginning in 1988 and graffiti was one of the considerations, as masonry products require less maintenance. The primary factor in constructing these expansive walls was the appearance of the masonry structures that stretch along major roadways in the city.
On Jan. 30, there was a rare sight in the Village – a well-used white service van could be seen on the east sidewalk of the 4400 block of south Yosemite – near the radar speed sign approaching I-225.
Pro contractors utilized
Gene Sarmiento, an employee of SparkleWash, applied an abrasive chemical agent to soak the obtrusive and eye-catching markings. He then used a hot water power wash to remove the remaining markings of the recently tagged blue graffiti on the 10 foot wall.
The graffiti in this incident consisted of an area of about three feet high and five feet long, a relatively typical size for a “tagger.” It took the trained employee with all the specialized resources about 40 minutes to remove the large and highly visible letters. Despite these professional efforts, minor shadowing still exists.
This $150 graffiti cleaning – $10 per square foot tab – was picked up by the city, which contracts with several service providers for graffiti removal.
24 hour goal
“Our goal is to have the graffiti removed in 24 hours,” said John Sheldon, a veteran of Greenwood Village’s Public Works Department. “We coordinate this with the police department to make sure that any graffiti is documented.”
In 2012, the city expended $4,140 in graffiti removal endeavors, a mere pittance compared to many other surrounding municipalities.
Greenwood Village takes care of graffiti on facilities, public rights of way and parks. Commercial and residential property owners are responsible for having graffiti removed themselves.
Each year the city installs additional landscaping to make it harder for taggers to gain easy access to vandalize the walls. This landscaping is done between the road and the wall.
“One advantage we may have is that we don’t have many painted surfaces,” said Sheldon. “A lot of the walls are masonry surfaces and the power washing is very effective.”
Tagging viewed as vandalism
“We view graffiti as vandalism and that could be perceived as a security issue in our community,” said Sheldon, who has worked for the city for 20 years. “We take tagging very seriously and that is why the police department is involved.”
Graffiti tends to be a random occurrence in the city. It has been proven over time that removing the spray paint or enamel markings within 24 hours repeatedly frustrates the vandal who typically goes elsewhere.
“Our surveillance includes the thousands of eyes from observant residents and citizens who know to contact our police department should they see any suspicious activities,” Sheldon said.
Residents and businesses that experience graffiti vandalism are encouraged to call City Hall as soon as possible. The police then go to the scene and photograph the tag and review it for any potential symbolism. A contractor then quickly responds to the scene to remove the markings.
“The warmer the weather – the easier to clean,” said Sarmiento. “Heat is one of the best things to use because it actually makes the paint soft – making it come off easier.”
In the event of a tagging, a Greenwood Village neighborhood services officer personally notifies the property owner of the incident.
Residents take pride
“Historically, on private property, we have never had any problem with private property owners, both residential and commercial,” said George Weaver, Greenwood Village’s director of community development, referring to his 16 years in the department.
The city does not have the ability to fine property owners for graffiti that is not removed in a timely manner.
“There is a judicial process for that and a compliant would be referred to the municipal court,” said Weaver.
“A lot of the florescent spray paint that is used for tagging is stolen from construction sites,” said Josh Whitten, a supervisor at SparkleWash. “A vast majority of the vandalism is done with spray paint and now includes enamel pens from hobby shops.”
There are numerous graffiti removal companies that work with homes and businesses. It is suggested that consumers shop around and receive estimates and referrals prior to having the work done.
Emily Baade and Kevin Huang, 2012 graduates of Grandview High School, have earned a State AP Scholar Award for their extraordinary performance on the 2012 Advanced Placement Exams. They are among only 108 students nationwide to receive this honor.
Last year was the 22nd annual celebration of State AP Scholars. The College Board confers this distinction on one male and one female student in each state and the District of Columbia with scores of 3 or higher on the greatest number of AP Exams, and then the highest average score (of at least 3.5 out of 5) on all AP Exams taken. Both students representing Colorado in 2012 came from Grandview High School.
Baade took a total of 17 AP exams in 2012, including AP English Literature and Composition, AP European History, AP Micro and Macro Economics and AP Statistics, and earned a mean score of 4.94. She is now attending the University of Alabama, where she has junior status because of her Advanced Placement credits, even though she is in her first year of college.
Huang also took 17 AP exams in 2012, including AP English Literature and Composition, AP Comparative Government and Politics, AP Chinese and AP Spanish Literature, and earned a mean score of 4.71. He is now attending the University of Colorado at Denver Medical School, where he is one of only eight freshmen selected to participate in the Medical School program, earning both undergraduate and medical school requirements.
Decision came days after Crawford was put on leave
Less than two weeks after being placed on paid administrative leave, Littleton City Attorney Kirsten Crawford has left the position for good.
On Feb. 8, the city announced that Crawford had resigned her position effective Feb. 1 – a date three days after council had unanimously approved her request to be placed on an ostensibly temporary leave.
It is the second time Littleton has lost a city attorney in less than a year and a half. Crawford was appointed in March of last year, six months after the City Council fired her predecessor Suzanne Staiert without explanation.
Crawford could not be reached for comment, but according to the city’s press announcement, the former city attorney’s resignation letter said she was “honored to serve the residents of Littleton and work for the city.”
Because Crawford’s resignation is a personnel matter, city officials would not comment on the circumstances.
“I respect Kirsten’s decision and appreciate her service,” Mayor Debbie Brinkman said. “The City Council and I wish her success in her future endeavors.”
No acting city attorney has been named, though Kristen Schledorn remains Littleton’s assistant city attorney.
Crawford, who had worked for the city for five and a half years, was appointed city attorney six months after Littleton’s acrimonious parting with Staiert, who is now a deputy secretary of state.
Crawford’s departure comes as the city manager’s office is conducting an evaluation in hopes of identifying potential efficiencies throughout the city’s departments.
Brinkman says Littleton is likely to consider the potential benefits of contracting with a law firm rather than hiring another in-house staff attorney to handle the myriad of legal issues faced by the city government.
“You can’t have an attorney that has a specialization in all of these things,” the mayor said. “You’ve got to contract out a lot of work anyway. The questions are: Would we save money? Would there be efficiencies? Should we do a hybrid? It’s definitely a department that deserves a look.”
Many neighboring cities, including Centennial and Cherry Hills Village, contract with law firms, as an alternative to employing a full-time staff attorney.
Because City Manager Michael Penny’s evaluation is expected as soon as next week, Brinkman expects a fast-track decision in the next two months to either put another city attorney on staff or to contract with a law firm.
TLC Meals on Wheels, which serves the south metro Denver area, has appointed Diane McClymonds as its new executive director. She replaces Phil Miller, who retired at the end of January. McClymonds, a Centennial resident, had been the director of operations for TLC Meals on Wheels since 2011.
“We’re thrilled to have Diane step into this position,” said David Burcham, president of the organization’s board of directors. “Diane has served in just about every capacity for us you can imagine. This was a natural evolution for her and for us.”
In her new position, McClymonds will be responsible for overall operations of the organization, community outreach and financial development.
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