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PHExpress 5.18.2020


See our Online Prairie Hills APEX Fair Projects.  Good job, participating students!


Well Prairie HIlls, we made it…..our last week of remote learning.  This truly has been a most unusual ending to a most unusual year.  I do have a few announcements to share with you that will be important to know this last week of school.  To all of you fifth grade students, on behalf of the entire PHE staff, we want to wish you all the best of luck as you transition to middle school, we hope that you will always take the best of your PHE experiences with you.  We can’t wait to see our fifth grade students and their parents as they drive by the school  during  our fifth grade celebration parade on Thursday afternoon.

Report Cards:

All report cards will be available online through the IC parent portal on May 21st.  The district will be sending out directions to log into Infinite Campus, and detail how to access your student’s report card.  Please keep your eye out for that particular district communication.

Distribution of Student Belongings:

Don’t forget that you will be able to pick up your student’s belongings this week on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We will be handing out the student’s items left in their desks, artwork from Mr. Pip, if they received a Lark Pride award they will receive their t-shirts, individual pictures and some 4th and 5th grade students will receive their lanterns if purchased by families.  Please come during your assigned time, as we have the bagged items grouped by the alphabetical category.  Know that we will be here from 4-6 on Wednesday evening if you’re unable to come at the assigned time.

Pick up Times are 

May 19

A - 7:30am-8:15am 

BA-BE - 8:15am-9:00am

BI-BZ - 9:00am-9:45am

CA-CI 9:45am-10:15am

CL-CZ 10:15am-11:00am

D - 11:00am-11:45am

E & F - 11:45am-12:30pm

G - 12:30pm-1:15pm

H - 1:15pm-2:00pm

I & J - 2:00pm-2:45pm

K - 2:45pm-3:30pm


May 20

L - 7:30am-8:15am

MA-MC - 8:15am-9:00am

ME-MZ - 9:00am-9:45am

N & O9:45am-10:15am

P - 10:15am-11:00am

Q & R11:00am-11:45am

SA-SH - 11:45am-12:30pm

SI-SZ - 12:30pm-1:15pm

T, U, V - 1:15pm-2:00pm

W - 2:00pm-2:45pm

X, Y Z - 2:45pm-3:30pm

All others:  4:00pm-6:00pm


Thank you for your patience in waiting for our yearbook delivery.  Because of the stay at home order in place in April and early May, , our photographer is working tirelessly trying to print the yearbooks and get them to us before the office staff leaves for the summer the first week in June.  We will continue to stay in communication with you, and we’ll host another curbside pick up, if the yearbooks are delivered before we all leave for the summer. If they are unable to be printed in time, we will notify you when we return in August, and you’ll be able to pick them up at that time.

Kindergarten Registration

We are continuing to register kindergarteners for the fall.  If you or someone you know has a kindergartener, you can call Stefanie Salli, our school secretary at 720-972-8782 for more information.


A look back at our accomplishments this year…..

As the school year draws to a close, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the year and celebrate of all the things we accomplished together, 

This year, we renewed our focus on district and school policy around the following areas:

  • Dress Code

  • Safety on school grounds

  • Bullying

  • Attendance

  • Discipline and Behavior

This year, we re-tooled our student recognition through our PRIDE ceremonies, and were able to recognize  over 200 students for their exemplary character as identified by their classroom teachers and peers. 

  • As a staff/parent committee, we worked together to write the Unified Improvement Plan that drove our instructional focus around:

  • The guaranteed and viable curriculum

  • Using data to drive instruction

  • MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support)

  • Positive Behavior Intervention System

  • As a  staff/parent committee we worked together to examine school lunch practices and procedures

  • We met with the district around the snack policies

  • We brought in the district trainers to discuss how to choose a healthy snack with students

  • We visited other school’s lunchrooms to see successful programming for lunch

  • We modified our lunch process (briefly) to give students more time to eat 

  • As a staff/parent committee we worked together to evaluate Safety of Drop off and Pick up procedures

  • We met with the city of Thornton, district officials and parents, to further examine our traffic patterns and safety concerns

  • A drone study had just been completed days prior to the extended spring break, this work will be passed along to Stephanie, our new principal to re-examine when students return to school.

  • As a staff/parent committee, we worked together to bring new parents in to our first ever Kinder Kickoff 

  • Over 70 people attended our first even Kinder Kickoff event as we met our new kindergarteners for next year

*****We worked collaboratively with our PTO in support of  the following activities and events:

Popsicles in the Park for incoming Kindergarteners

Boo Hoo Breakfast

School Supplies donation for our sister school North Mor

Participated in Back to School night and Trunk or Treat

Supply lunches for the staff during parent teacher conferences

Recognition for staff during classified and certified appreciation week

Host Pictures with Santa for both PHE and North Mor

Burritos and Brew

As you review the list of all of the things our PTO does for our school, it doesn’t seem like thank you is enough.  On behalf of the entire Prairie Hills staff, we want to give sincere gratitude to all of the parents who help provide these activities and make our elementary school better in doing so.  

Another one of our highlights for this year was our fourth grade student Allie Jorgenson.  In response to some of the negative behaviors we were experiencing in fourth grade, Allie had a great idea!  She proposed that we get a Buddy Bench, where students without a friend could sit there during recess if they needed someone to play with.  If the kids saw someone sitting there, they could ask them to play.  With the help of our PTO, Studio Five, and Home Depot, we raised nearly $2500.00 for a new bench. It will be coming next year!!!

Hello’s and Goodbye’s

As with any school year, we say goodbye to old friends, and hello to others. Please join me in wishing the following staff well as they will be leaving us this year:

Tanya Garcia:  Assistant Principal

Isabel D'Agostino:  Kindergarten Teacher

Susan Stark:  1st grade teacher

Ashlynn Manning:  Music Teacher

Alyssa Capretta:  Kindergarten Para, Lunch Monitor, and BASE leader

Bethany Hinman:  Special Education Para

We are excited to welcome:

Stephanie Auday:  Principal

Mishel Riley:  Assistant Principal

Malia Toyama:  Fifth Grade

Amanda Vigil:  Music


One final goodbye:

It is hard to believe that the school year has ended, and even harder to believe we finished the year via remote learning.  Although I came to Prairie Hills in October, it seems like I’ve been here for much longer.  I want to thank each and every one of you for allowing me to serve as interim principal here.  It has been challenging, surprising, joyful, and today it’s sad.  I am grateful for having the opportunity to get to know many of you and your students.  The students here at PHE are so bright and articulate, funny and smart, good friends to one another and kind.  They have made an indelible mark on my heart, and I want them to know that I wish them only good things for their future.  

As a community, you need to know how truly unique you are.  Your benevolence and giving is extraordinary.  I’ve really never seen anything like it.  You all care deeply about our school and it shows in everything you do.  You care not just for your student, but for others as well.  There is something to be said for walking to school with your neighbors, sharing in the same neighborhood activities, and playing at the park and knowing all the students who are there. Not to mention, living across the street from your teachers.  This is a special place, and I have been honored to be a part of it, although it was for a very short time.   

I will miss you all Prairie Hills, and know things will only get better from here.  Take care, stay well, be safe, and see you soon.  Please click on the video below as our staff send you all one final farewell.  

Goodbye Video from the PHE staff



Good afternoon Prairie HIlls,

As you may have already heard, students will be able to pick up their belongings next week.  We have sprung into hyperspeed in order to get a schedule created and figure out the staffing we need in order to be ready for curb-side pickup.  We will be sending further information toward the end of the week as we get our plan finalized.

It’s Lark Pride Time!

We are again sharing a video with you recognizing our students for May who have been awarded the Lark Pride award.  Important note:  When you view my introduction, know that the bird legs were cut out of the scene due to a very unfortunate formatting problem, but know I’m wearing my bird legs in celebration of your student!  You can see the video here.

And the survey says…….

Earlier in the year, many of you took the Panorama survey around your satisfaction with our school.  Well, the results are in, and we’d like to share those with you.  You can view the survey results here:  Thanks to the 177 respondents who took time to share your feelings with us.  As a staff, we are looking at the student, staff and family surveys to help carve a roadmap for next year in terms of our school culture.  Without your help, we would not be able to identify those areas of success, as well as those areas in which we need to focus on.  Thanks again!

Thank You!

Please accept this great big thank you from the entire staff for your generosity and kindness in recognizing teachers with the Panera gift cards.  They were so appreciated during these unusual times, and we all appreciated the gesture.

Thank you also for your continued patience as we work our way through until the end of the school year.  There is so much happening at this time, and we are trying to  make everything as easy as possible for you as you come and pick up your student’s items, etc.  Our teachers will be here this week to clean out their classrooms, so there will be a flurry of activity here at the building.  It almost feels a little bit like we’re getting a little normalcy back.  

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything.  Again, there will be communication coming your way at the end of the week detailing our pick up process and procedure for student’s retrieval of their personal items.  Until then, have a wonderful rest of your week.

PHExpress Jr

May 11, 2020

Dear Parents,

I am writing a very brief version of the PHExpress this afternoon to let you know a few things.  We will be sending out a more comprehensive version of the PHExpress tomorrow, as we are beginning to create a process for retrieval of student’s classroom items.  

As for tomorrow, we will begin allowing staff in the building to pack up their classroom and retrieve personal items.  As you begin to see cars in the parking lot tomorrow, please do not come to the building.  We are limited in the number of people allowed in the building at one time, and we are required to adhere to the health protocols and procedures recommended by the TriCounty Health Department.  

If you need immediate assistance or have questions, you can call Stefanie Salli, our secretary on her personal line at 720-972-8782 or Tammy Guttropf, our Office Manager at 720-972-8781.  As I stated earlier, we will be sending more detailed  information about when and how students can pick up any items left at the school, as well as how to return library books or reading books sent home by classroom teachers.

Thanks for your patience, things are happening quickly and we want to make sure we’re getting you all the most up to date information.

Warm Regards,

Kim Walsh



Dear Prairie HIlls Families,

First off, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is one of my favorite days of the year!  Cue the music-its Star Wars Day-May the fourth be with you!  More importantly, it's also the first day of Teacher Appreciation Week, and in true Prairie HIlls fashion, we celebrate all staff in this week long recognition.  

Certified Staff:  These are our teachers.  Some of them are with your children each and every day in the classroom, others specialize in a specific content like PE, Art, or Music, and there are a whole host of teachers who work with special populations of students and still others who work in support of all teachers providing resources and support.  These teachers very rarely see a 40 hour week, as they are working evenings and weekends, whether it be grading papers, planning lessons, or responding to countless email messages.  They say yes without complaint to the countless demands on staff, whether it be district or statewide mandated to do. They participate in school wide meetings that are always on their calendar, and in their spare time (outside of Remote Learning), they are meeting with students via extra curricular activities, taking additional coursework, and participating in Professional Learning opportunities here at school  to improve their craft.  

I always say that teaching isn’t a job, it’s a calling, like mission work.  Teachers work this hard because of this strong moral imperative to serve children well, teach them, and ensure that each and every student is ready to go out and make a difference in the world.  And you know, it doesn’t matter if that student is a struggling reader, has trouble making friends, or is experiencing challenges at home, teachers believe in every student and work always to recognize their potential.  They are fierce advocates for their students, and not just hold them to a high standard, but work just as hard to make sure their students have the support they need to succeed.  

This week is for them.  For every teacher at our school who does this work tirelessly.  I hope you’ll join me this week in recognizing them, and thanking them for all they do.  They miss your children, and receiving a quick email, picture or video from you or your student will lift their spirits.  They miss your children terribly, and I know they aren’t looking for recognition, but the messages from each of you will certainly brighten their day.  

Classified Staff:  Our classified staff comprised of the rest of our staff who do everything else to keep our building up and running.  This includes our BASE staff,  led by Ms. Tone and her team, provide before and after school care for your students, our paraprofessional staff, who are working daily with students, our library and office staff who greet your students each day, and keep the operations of the school up and running, as well as our recess monitors and our custodian who work so hard helping our school look beautiful.  We want you to recognize the impact these folks make in creating the positive educational environment for your students.  These staff members are scattered throughout the building supporting all students throughout the day.  Whether it's Miss Ellen in the clinic handing out ice packs and wet paper towels to go along with her comforting words, or Mrs. Hassel in the library recommending a good book to read, or our custodial staff (Mr. Keith, Mr. Dave, or Miss Kay),  high fiving students in the cafeteria.  Our students know they can count on a smiling face, a helping hand, or the comfort of a caring adult.

Our BASE staff and our lunch room duty monitors (Miss Teri, Miss Anchie, and Miss Alyssa) have the challenging job of creating a safe, fun environment, while trying to restrain the impending chaos that could break out at any time.  They do that through creating positive relationships with our students, and structure when necessary.  A very difficult balance.  The classroom paras (Miss Cheryl, Miss Alyssa, Miss Sandy, Miss Bethany and Miss Judy) do absolutely amazing work with our students in the classroom.  They are tasked with cajoling, prompting, supporting and cheerleading our students who need a little extra instructional boost, and they do it with love, care and affection.  And finally, our office staff, Miss Tammy and Miss Stefanie are like air traffic control.  They work to greet students in the morning, funnel them to the right place, help students call home for their lunch or forgotten items, and they are often the holding area for students who are ill, who need a break from class, or who may have caused a little trouble.  And they do all of this with a loving hand, a listening heart, and a firm hand.  Our classified staff isn’t assigned to a classroom, they are all assigned to the school full of students.  So, if you have a moment, please thank them, too.  Staff appreciation week is for all staff.  At Prairie Hills, all staff are teachers in some way.  This is a time to celebrate each and every one.


  • Grading and Attendance:  As the weather gets warmer, and the grind of remote learning becomes a greater challenge, I want to remind you that it is so important that your student continues to participate and turn in their work.  Per the district’s guidance around grading, we will finalize grades for the second semester’s report card by reviewing student work from the third quarter, and averaging in the work that has been completed by students through remote learning.  If your student is turning in less than 50% of their work, they will be counted as absent for the week, and these missing assignments will definitely impact their grade. To date, we have a high number of students who are participating and attending regularly (upwardsof 97%).  However, through our weekly meetings with grade levels, we are noticing a little bit of a decline in work that’s being turned in.  Your student’s teacher will have likely already informed you of a change in production or turning in assignments, however, if you have a concern, please reach out to your student’s classroom teacher. We want to make sure you are aware of any negative changes in your student’s grade that could potentially impact their final grade on their Semester 2 report card. 

  • Friday, May 8th is a teacher work day.  Please be reminded that staff will not be hosting office hours on Friday.

  • Field Day is this Friday, May 8th!  This is a national field day, where more than 20 activities are going to be offered.  We hope you and your families enjoy the day.  Please see information here National Field Day Link

Self Care Tip of the Week:

Stay emotionally close even when you are physically distant.  Find times each day to meaningfully connect with someone you care about. Write a letter, zoom with a friend, or call someone you care about.  Now more than ever, we need to find creative ways to connect with people.  

Staffing Announcements:

We are happy to announce the following staff changes for the 2020-2021 school year!

First Grade:  We will be going to four rounds in first grade next year, and we are delighted to welcome Mrs. Allen to first grade.  Ms. Allen is a former kindergarten teacher, who has spent the last couple of years in fourth grade.  Join us in welcoming Mrs. Allen to 1st grade!

Fifth Grade:  Fifth grade will also be moving from three rounds to four rounds.  We are delighted to welcome Ms. Malia Toyama to Prairie HIlls.  Ms. Toyama has over twenty years experience, and has recently been teaching at Meridian Elementary here in our district.  Please join me in welcoming Ms. Toyama to PHE!



Happy Monday everyone!  Well, parents, we are down to the final weeks of the school year, and it feels busier than ever.  As a staff, we are busy planning for next year, getting our Master Schedule put together, planning a virtual Field Day, and trying to figure out how to host the myriad of traditional end of year events in a creative and new way.  We’ll keep you posted as we continue moving forward.  We miss you, we miss our students, and we can’t wait to see you all again.  In the meantime, you’ll find below a few of the important updates for the week.

School News Updates

Looking for something different to do with students?  Check this out!

This link will take you to the virtual "Read with the Buffs" program. There are videos of CU Athletes reading aloud one of their favorite books, along with comprehension questions.  

1.  PRIDE Song Contest:

We are extending the deadline for nominations for a new Prairie Hills PRIDE song.  Students can write a new PRIDE song, chant, poem, or rap.  The song must include the words perseverance, respect, integrity, dreams to achieve and empathy, but they can be in any order.  They are welcome to add in actions or movements to go along with the words.  We are looking for songs that would appeal to kids from kindergarten through 5th grade.  Please email a video of the song to and by May 7.

2. Self-Care Tip of the Week:

Our community and families are under a considerable amount of stress.  It can be helpful to schedule regular relaxation activities throughout the day.  Conderside spending a few minutes every hour doing something relaxing.  A 10 minute walk, a few minutes to draw, or a fun activity from one of our specials' teachers pages can reduce stress for both students and parents.  

PTO Updates

1st Ever PHE PTO Scholarship Awarded

The PHE PTO would like to announce that the PTO Scholarship Committee has awarded our 1st ever $500 scholarship to Isabelle Hanus of Horizon High School.  Isabelle completed kindergarten through 5th here at PHE.  She will be attending the University of Colorado Denver to pursue a degree in biology with a concentration on a doctoral degree in dentistry.  

Staff Appreciation Week Needs Your Help!

Reminder!!  The week of May 4th through the 8th is Staff Appreciation week.  We want to celebrate our amazing PHE staff with pictures and videos.  

Please do the following for a successful picture or video submission:

-Include teacher/staff member(s) name(s) in your submission of picture or video

Video requirements:

-Chromebooks CANNOT be used to record video submissions (doesn't work with video editing tool).

-Must be 15 seconds or less.  Beware that email attachments have size limits of 15mb and videos can be large files.

-Please center your student on the video to keep from having his/her head cut off.   

All pictures and videos need to be sent to by Thursday, April 30th.  Thank you for your support!

Calendar Updates

May 8th:  Teacher Work Day

May 8th:  National Field Day*See flyer below

May 21st:  Last day of school for all students

Here’s an upcoming event that sounds so fun!  We hope you all plan on participating 

Dear PHE Families:

I’m excited to announce that our Prairie Hills community will be participating in the OPEN National Field Day event on Friday, May 8th!


Field Day is an important tradition at our school. It is a significant day for our students and our staff, and we feel that in these incredibly challenging times this national event is a unique way that we can stay connected as a community and support one another in a fun and meaningful way.


OPEN (Online Physical Education Network) is a national public service organization that provides curriculum and training support to more than 90,000 teachers in all 50 states. We will be using their resources and social media network to help us organize our school’s participation in #NationalFieldDay.


All #NationalFieldDay events are designed to be done indoors or outdoors using common household items. You won’t be asked to purchase any specialized equipment or supplies.



Here’s how it will work:

  • Our school is now registered as a participant in this event. Families can choose to register as well, but it’s not a requirement.

  • The event website is

  • As a part of registration, you will receive a “Field Day Friday” email with updates each week with new resources.

  • You can also find updates via social media using #NationalFieldDay.

  • Below is a set of event cards (20 events) that you can use to begin practicing. There is a participant practice sheet for tracking progress.

  • Your family will be asked to choose a minimum of 4 events to complete on Field Day. However, you may complete as many events as you’d like to. From May 3 thru 7, we will follow #NationalFieldDay and watch the Field Day Torch travel across the country in preparation for the main event. 

  • On May 8, our entire school will participate in the events, complete an official score card, and share any pictures or videos (even practice pictures and videos) on:  Participate nationally on social media using #NationalFieldDay.

I will continue to send you weekly updates on this fun and festive event. I appreciate your cooperation and are hopeful that your entire family will use it as a fun and meaningful way to be physically active together and with our entire school community.

Stay well, 

Mr. Sousa

Important Reminders and FAQs

  • Participation is FREE. There is no fee or purchase required. 

  • Participation certificates will be available online in MS Word, PDF, and Google Document formats. 

  • Registration will remain open through May 8th! We want everyone to get up to the minute announcements.

  • Activities can be done with equipment and items generally found around the home. We want to provide this experience for everyone!

  • What about the date?! We will celebrate this event on May 8th. However, if that date doesn't match your calendar, it's okay to participate on any day that you would like to. We will keep all content live and available through August 30, 2020. 

Below are the field day activity packs and practice plans.  Enjoy!