Turner Middle School takes students, community to the Dark Ages at Medieval Fair

By Shelley Widhalm

The Berthoud Surveyor

Seventh graders at Turner Middle School (TMS) hailed the community to the Medieval Fair on April 6 to step back to the Dark Ages and become enlightened on their social-studies lessons.

The Medieval Fair, held in the school’s cafeteria in booth format, presented the culmination of two months of research the students conducted on royal, village and town life during the fifth to 15th centuries. More than 200 guests came to the morning event, where the walls were decorated with fake banners to make it look like they were walking into the great hall of a castle.

“The fair is the award,” said Justin Muir, seventh-grade social studies teacher at TMS. “Let’s show off everything we’ve done.”

The students — 180 in total — broke into groups of three to four to research various aspects of Medieval Europe, including the Vikings, knights, castles, Black Death, towns and villages, and key people during that time period, such as Mary of Tudor or Bloody Mary.

The groups, which had February to April to do the work, created posters to present their research findings at the fair, along with coats of arms, artwork, and artifacts related to their topics. They could work on the artwork in school or at home and created things like illuminated letters, mosaics and frescos in their seventh-grade art class, taught by Holly Thompson, art teacher. They also created paintings, pencil sketches, pottery and paper stained-glass.

“Art reflects … the consciousness of what’s going on in that time period,” Thompson said, explaining because churches funded most of the artwork, there was a lack of portraits and landscapes. “This is why during this time period all you see is … fresco paintings, mosaics and architecture.”

The students made their artifacts at home; choosing things like shields, helmets, foam weapons, serving platters, and a miniature guillotine, Muir said. They also made goods and services to sell in exchange for plastic coins their parents, students and members of the community received in bags at the door. This year, because the coins ran out, taxes had to be collected to continue providing the coins for the next guests.

For their goods, which included traditional breads, cookies and brownies, the students gave the items Medieval-sounding names, such as Plague Bread, Witches Brew, Dragon Snot and Unicorn Blood, and some tried recipes from the time period. One group sold Slime and called it Black Death Dupe.

Other groups offered services that included hair braiding, henna tattoos, face painting, and games like a ring toss, Planko and a miniature witches’ dunk tank, resulting in a carnival-like setting. The students dressed in medieval clothing as part of their presentations.
“The Medieval Fair was very fun and enjoyable,” said TMS seventh-grader KeeLei Burrows. “We all got to dress up and have fun. We got to buy other peoples’ products and enjoy a fun time with friends. My group had the topic of law and punishment. For our good, we made Jell-o with gummy body parts in it that we called Witches’ Brew. Our artifact was a model showing a man being hanged, drawn and quartered.”

The fair began with an opening ceremony and the procession of the royal court with the king and queen, eight nobles, the town crier, and the court jester making an entrance while the school band played. The king proclaimed the fair open and the buying of goods and playing of games ensued. After 45 minutes there was an intermission with the town crier making an announcement, the choir giving a performance, and the court jester telling jokes.

The fair then continued, and guests could participate in a trebuchet chase contest or come to the stage to learn fencing moves, presented by re-enactors from Colorado State University. At the end of the event Muir gave the closing speech.

“They put a ton of effort into it,” Muir said, adding all of his students turned in their assignments in order to participate in the fair and took pride in their projects. “The kids love it. I’m able to keep it motivating, and they are very interested in it.”

Other teachers got involved in the project for interdisciplinary learning, teaching the students Old English, the songs of the time, and the biological aspects of the Black Death. Students made scale-model drawings of suits of armor, applying mathematics principles and in-tech education, the students built trebuchets, a type of catapult. They also cooked their baked goods in the family and consumer sciences classroom.

“Project-based learning takes one project and blends it in other classes to get multiple perspectives, so students understand it at a deeper level,” Thompson said. “It gives a deeper connection. … The level of enthusiasm and engagement is much higher.”

Muir, who has led the fair for two years, moved it to a larger venue, from the gym to the cafeteria, and added the re-enactors, trebuchets, artwork and other disciplinary projects.

“We took something they’d already been doing a good job with and made it better,” Muir said.

Berthoud High Students Show Compassion Through Crafting

By Katie Harris

The Surveyor in Berthoud

It’s been nearly a year since Berthoud High School (BHS) librarian Carin Barrett launched the school’s Compassionate Maker Space, a place where students can come together to create items for those in need in the community, and the program is going stronger than ever.

“Last year I was looking for ideas for my ‘Philanthropy as Civic Engagement’ class to make things to be donated to non-profits,” said Barrett. “I tweeted something and a librarian in New York tweeted back explaining what she did in her library. As I got to looking at what she was doing with her students I realized that this could be much bigger than just one class, it could be something for all the students in the school to do.”

Barrett and library assistant Michelle Trujillo began brainstorming project ideas, and by May 2017 they’d converted their library office space into a crafting area and Compassionate Maker Space was born.

“A person that works at our school had attended a meeting with a woman from Restore Innocence, a group that makes restoration bags for people who have been rescued from sex trafficking circles,” said Barrett. “We decided to start there.”

She opened up the space to the entire school, while making it known that participation was entirely voluntary. It wasn’t long before the first project was running in full swing.

“Once it was explained to them, almost every student wanted to help in one way or another,” said Barrett. “I think it quickly changed the vibe of our library. Students would peek in there and they’d be intrigued by what was going on.”

When designing the space, Barrett and Trujillo did their best to create a relaxed atmosphere in order to make it easy for students to participate when and how they wanted.

“There are options where students can just contribute and don’t have to finish a whole project, or we have bins where students can leave unfinished projects and come back to them where they’re able,” said Barrett. “They can come in during their open periods, during lunch, or during student advisory. It’s nice because students who can’t drive have limited options for volunteering in Berthoud, so this gives them a way to earn volunteer hours.”

For BHS senior Henry Mizer, the flexibility the project offered is one of the main reasons he got involved.

“My favorite thing about the maker space is the fact that it’s so easy to volunteer,” he said. “I can go in on one of my off hours and make a difference for 45 minutes of my day.”

Since the maker space opened last May, Barrett said more than 10 percent of the student body has participated, creating nearly 300 projects for eight different non-profits. Projects have included small pillows donated to Medical Center of the Rockies to cover hospitalized patients’ medical ports, 3D printer toys such as puzzles and rattles for Operation Smile, and scarves and hats for FoCo Cafe and the Longmont Public Library’s coat tree.

BHS senior Sophie Visger’s favorite projects were the pillowcases and pillowcase dresses the students made to go with the port pillows.

“I made quite a few pillowcases because they were easy and very therapeutic,” she said. “As for the dresses, I liked those most because I got to build on my sewing skills and build something so proactive with new people.”

Once projects are complete, Barrett mails or hand delivers them to the recipients, bringing her students along with her when possible.

“The FoCo Cafe was interesting,” she said. “Our class visited the cafe on a field trip, and there were a few students in my class who had made scarves to donate and were able to deliver them themselves. When the place is close and there’s that opportunity, we’ll definitely do that. They left wanting to volunteer in other ways too, which was great.”

Ella North, a freshman at BHS can attest to that sentiment. “Personally, [volunteering] has made a difference in my life because I have been more aware of my own blessings, which I take for granted, and how much I value these.”

Just as all work completed in the maker space is done on a volunteer basis, 100 percent of the funding for materials is donated. According to Barrett, a large portion of the money was donated by an anonymous Berthoud Community member, with a fundraiser through the Thompson Education Foundation raising an additional $700 for materials. Barrett said, due to a lack of storage, the best way to contribute is through a tax deductible cash donation, which can be written to BHS with “Make for Good” in the memo.

“No school funds have been used for this,” said Barrett. “It’s really good in the sense that the students know that the community supports this too.”

As another school year draws to a close, Barrett hopes to engage every student at BHS in Compassionate Maker Space by the time they graduate.

“I really hope that this becomes something that new students coming into the school already consider an opportunity and look forward to getting to do,” she said. “The students who have done it so far, they come back; they want to do it again and recruit others. I want to see that whole ecosystem grow even more.”

For the students at BHS, contributing to the effort has given them something to be proud of and feel good about.

“Being a part of the maker space has helped me to focus my energies on helping others and getting out of my head, said Visger. “It’s been a really amazing opportunity.”


Eleven District High School Seniors Named Semifinalists for Two Key Scholarships

Thompson School District is pleased to announce that eleven high school senior students have been named semifinalists in two specific scholarship competitions. The following students have been named semifinalists for the 2017-2018 Boettcher Scholarship:

Elizabeth Bosnich – Berthoud High School
Alexander Paradise – Berthoud High School
Tate Rees – Berthoud High School
Brandon Lindsey – Loveland High School
Henry Stucky – Loveland High School
Allison Hall – Mountain View High School
Cameron Piccone – Mountain View High School
Megan Valliere – Mountain View High School
Josephine McCauley – Thompson Valley High School

In addition, the following students have been named semifinalists of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship:

Maycee White – Berthoud High School
Brandon Lindsey – Loveland High School
Henry Stucky – Loveland High School
Makenzie Culver – Mountain View High School



Created over 60 years ago, the Boettcher Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship program designed for Colorado high school seniors. The program covers the cost of a scholar’s tuition, fees and books for eight semesters or 12 quarters at approved Colorado four-year universities or colleges. Additionally, Boettcher Scholars receive a living stipend. Forty-two scholarships are awarded annually. Approximately 100 Colorado high school senior finalists are selected to interview in Denver for the merit-based scholarship from an initial pool of applicants, which is typically around 1,500.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to graduating high school seniors. Students are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities. With the 29th class in 2017, the program has provided over 5,850 Coca-Cola Scholars with more than $63 million in educational support. Each year, 150 Coca-Cola Scholars are selected to receive a $20,000 scholarship.


The semifinalist lists for these two scholarships will be updated further if additional names are formally announced by the programs.

For more information, please contact Michael Hausmann, Thompson School District Public Information Officer, at 970-613-5011 or via e-mail at michael.hausmann@thompsonschools.org.

TSD is a Great School District

Dr Stan Scheer-2016

Each and every day, I am inspired by all of the great things that I see happening in our schools and buildings. After reflecting on the things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, I am reminded to never take for granted the quality work all of our employees contribute in making Thompson a great place for our students, parents and staff.

I see our students demonstrate their learning in unique and meaningful ways. And I see the impact of our schools and district throughout the community through our improved academic test scores, our increased graduation rate and the community service that so many of our students are doing each day. I see performance at the highest level in sports as well as a variety of other activities where the discipline and talent of our students is openly on display. The talent demonstrated by our youth is amazing.

Beginning in middle school and extending through their high school years, our students are assembling “life plan portfolios” as a part of their graduation requirements. These portfolios include items such as high-level academic pursuits, practical experience through leadership activities and even a summary of their community service. Students are accessing both performing and practical arts, as well as vocational educational programs that include concurrent enrollment with our local community colleges and four-year institutions.

I see teachers welcoming students with open arms every day, asking how they are doing and planning their day around what it will to take to not just educate each child, but to also care for them as individuals. That caring goes on even before school starts as staff members provide breakfast to students and assist with the simplest kinds of things such as opening a milk carton for a young child or wiping up an accidental spill. Staff members also assist students in other important ways, such as taking the time in all of our schools to recognize our veterans and by providing an opportunity for them to understand how important our freedoms are in this great Republic.

I see bus drivers and technicians at our Transportation depot arriving for work in the middle of the night to begin the process of preparing our fleet and making the adjustments necessary to ensure that our buses are ready to welcome our students. I see staff members pre-checking buses in a deliberate way to ensure all systems are ready to go. I see dispatchers taking phone calls at 5:00 in the morning to ensure drivers know who will be on their routes, and I also see buses being started in cold weather to ensure we are ready to pick up students as early as 5:30 a.m. I drive by school parking lots and sidewalks that are being plowed as early as 1:30 in the morning.

I see a facilities staff that works in the early hours to prepare our buildings to become the warm and inviting schools that we want our kids to experience every day, as well as staff working late into the night to ensure the buildings are clean and ready to go the next day. I see all kinds of after-school activities going on in our buildings until late at night and throughout the weekends with sports and the rental of space on Sunday for church services.

I see a Nutrition Services staff that serves over one-and-a-half million meals to students each year, including breakfast and lunch. Our team begins their work in the early morning hours to prepare the balanced meals that our children need. For some of our students, these meals are especially important due to their family’s economic status. The budget for our food service program is self-sustained through student meal fees and federal subsidies and does not receive any support from the district’s General Fund.

I see administrators who are dedicated to supporting our classroom work through their leadership and caring support of our students and families. I see them working well after a normal work day because of parent meetings or activities, including science fairs and a variety of sports activities in the evening.

I see coaches working hard to have winning teams, knowing full well that should they qualify for regional and state tournaments, there is no additional pay on their base contracts for their success with their students. I see music directors who have bands that compete in state and regional competitions that require long hours of practice and also events that take up their evenings and weekends with no additional compensation. And I also see a legion of parent volunteers who form booster clubs for all of these activities to support the students in competition as well as fundraise for travel and equipment.

Thompson is a great school district. We have wonderful students and families and a staff that truly cares about doing all that they can for our children. We also have many challenges that need attention. We have work to do as a community. We need your support by understanding the challenges and assisting us with the search for solutions.

Our school board is working hard to ensure they are providing the governance of the school district that is needed to move forward in doing what is best for our students in a healthy way. Shortly, they will be asking for community input into the selection of a new superintendent. They are currently working with a search firm who will be reaching out to ensure that the process involves the entire community. Each of you will be encouraged to contribute to that process in the near future.

Public education truly does “contribute to the defense of our Nation” by providing a level playing field for all of our students that builds character and expectations regarding ethics, responsibility and service to others in our local community. We truly have much to be thankful for because of the contribution that Thompson School District makes every day.

Dr. Stan Scheer
Thompson School District


Truscott Elementary School Named to National Register of Historic Places

Thompson School District is pleased to announce that Truscott Elementary School has been officially named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Register is the official federal list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. These entities contribute to an understanding of the historical and cultural foundations of the nation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. The National Park Service provides overall program administration. The Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP) in History Colorado, the Colorado Historical Society, administers the register in Colorado. OAHP assists property owners in listing Colorado’s most historically and architecturally significant buildings, structures and sites in the National Register of Historic Places and the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties. In Colorado, there are over 1,600 properties listed in the National Register and over 2,100 listed in the State Register. Properties listed in the National or State Registers may be eligible for investment tax credits or for grants from the State Historical Fund, another program of History Colorado. OAHP staff is available to assist with the initial assessments of eligibility and to provide guidance in the completion of Register nominations.

A plaque commemorating Truscott Elementary’s inclusion in the Register will be officially awarded to the school community on Monday, November 27, at 8:15 AM in the school’s gymnasium. The presentation will take place during the school’s regularly scheduled all-school assembly. The public is welcome to attend.

For more information, please contact Michael Hausmann, Thompson School District Public Information Officer, at 970-613-5011 or via e-mail at michael.hausmann@thompsonschools.org.

2017-2018 Thompson Connections Event Schedule

Do you want to learn more about the power of learning in Thompson School District’s schools and help plan for future success?  Please join us for our upcoming “Seeing Is Believing” events and Thompson2Life task force meetings.

“Seeing Is Believing” events provide an opportunity for parents, community members, and surrounding school districts to experience Personalized Learning in action in our middle and high schools. The host school develops the specific content for each meeting, which may include tours, demonstrations and discussions with students, teachers and administrators.

“Seeing Is Believing” events are open to the public and take place from 8:00 am to 9:00 am.

IMPORTANT: Please RSVP by the Wednesday before each event to Dodie Schroeder, Professional Learning Coach, at dodie.schroeder@thompsonschools.org or 970-613-6889.

Here is a list of the remaining upcoming events:

November 16 – High Plains School K-8
November 30 – Harold Ferguson High School
December 14 – Lucile Erwin Middle School
January 11 – Bill Reed Middle School
January 25 – Walt Clark Middle School
February 22 – Mountain View High School
March 1 – Berthoud High School
March 8 – Conrad Ball Middle School


Thompson2Life (T2L) is a task force comprised of parents, community members, teachers and administrators that meets monthly to research, discuss and make decisions regarding ways to ensure College, Career and Community Readiness for students Early Childhood through 12th grade (EC-12). These monthly discussions explore opportunities for personalized learning in a competency-based system. For more information on the task force, please visit http://www.thompsonschools.org/thompson2life

Thompson2Life events take place from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Here is a list of the remaining upcoming meetings for the 2017-2018 school year:

November 14 – Berthoud High School, Library
December 12 – Mountain View High School, Library
January 9 – Harold Ferguson High School, Auditorium
February 13 – Thompson School District Board of Education room
March 6 – Thompson School District Board of Education room
April 10 – Thompson School District Board of Education room
May 8 – Thompson School District Board of Education room

TSD Seeks Input on Possible Adjusted School Start Times



The Thompson School District Board of Education is exploring the concept of adjusting start times for district students. This topic has been brought forward by families within the community and staff members who believe that a later start time for middle and high school students would be more conducive to student health and learning. A number of other school districts in the region and nation have made a similar adjustment, citing research regarding the importance of sleep and the ideal times for students to learn. If formally proposed and adopted by the Board of Education, the change would take place beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. A late start of one hour each week would result in the addition of approximately four student contact days to the district school calendar.

We need your help in determining if this adjustment in school start times would be a good match for our families and district community. Please share your thoughts with us by completing a survey via the link below.

The survey consists of four questions, as well as a space for you to share your comments. Board members and district staff will utilize this information in the decision-making process.

Here is the survey link:
Thank you very much for your assistance and continued support.

TSD Names Dr. Matt Kuhn as Executive Director of Information Technology Services

Matt Kuhn

Thompson School District is pleased to announce that it has named Dr. Matt Kuhn as Executive Director of Information Technology Services.  Dr. Kuhn will fill the position that was vacated by Josh Smith, who has departed the district.

Dr. Kuhn is currently serving as the director of technology for Englewood Schools in Englewood, Colo.  In addition to supervising the district’s technological infrastructure, he leads the team’s strategic planning efforts and works continuously to support classroom teaching and student achievement initiatives.  Dr. Kuhn’s career also includes experience as a managing instructional technology consultant with McREL International and as an education programs manager with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  He previously served as a principal in Aurora, Colo., and also as a physical science teacher in Cherry Creek Public Schools and as a science and math teacher in Littleton Public Schools.  Dr. Kuhn is a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, where he managed a team as a military intelligence officer.

“I am very excited to be part of a district that includes growing communities, improved student achievement and engaging technology for students,” Dr. Kuhn said.

Dr. Kuhn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aircraft Engineering Technology from Embry Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and a master’s degree in Science Education from the University of Denver.  He earned his Ph.D. in Educational Technology Administration from the University of Denver as well.

For more information, please contact Michael Hausmann, Thompson School District Public Information Officer, at 970-613-5011 or via e-mail at michael.hausmann@thompsonschools.org.

“We See and Believe in Thompson School District”

By Tiffany Miller, Principal at Conrad Ball Middle School,
and Lanny Hass, Principal at Thompson Valley High School

Sometimes as educators we get new ideas from magazines, online, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and one another. Rarely, do we actually get the opportunity to see what these ideas look like in person and actually see how the idea is working. Not today.

Today  Thompson School District in Loveland, Colorado is doing a “Seeing Is Believing” tour in one of our district high schools, the new “norm” for our administrator meetings. Right now as we write this, we are in a room filled with administrators, teachers, community members, and others from different districts across the state. You might ask what this “Seeing Is Believing” tour is, and here’s what we would say: it’s the best professional learning (PL) I have been a part of as a leader, an educator, and someone who is always wanting to try something new if it’s best for kids.

This type of PL started a year ago after our district made a major shift to personalized learning. Through this journey, we have learned that living in silos in each of our own buildings isn’t the way to personalize our district and that working collaboratively is truly the Thompson way. As a team, we asked ourselves: Are we actually modeling what we expect of our very own students? We expect kids to collaborate, take risks, ask for feedback, and be vulnerable, but do we do that? Are we taking that risk of opening up our doors and asking other teachers and administrators for feedback? We do with those we trust, but rarely do we step that far out of our comfort zone to become vulnerable… until now.

In Thompson, we believe so deeply that a collaborative practice is our practice and supporting each other is the only way we will grow as leaders and teachers. So, with this lens of personal growth we opened up our doors to showcase our classrooms and share our success stories, share our struggles, and we have created a true Professional Learning Community (PLC) across all ten secondary schools. Instead of calling it a PLC we call these tours our “Seeing Is Believing” time with each other. Why? Here is the simple answer… sometimes to believe that something can exist, you have to see it in action.

A year ago, Tiffany opened up the doors at Conrad Ball Middle School and shared this next generation school with others. Today, Lanny and Thompson Valley High School opened up their doors. One idea Lanny took away from his visit to Con Ball last year was our Next Gen Room. A year later, he created a room called The Summit. Both of these rooms represent a place of hard work, collaboration, and visuals on the walls to show where we have been and where we hope to go. This one idea from a year ago has quickly evolved into so much more. This is just one example of how both schools are learning from one another and continue to push each other in the best way possible. The best compliment we can get from each other is: “Today wasn’t a dog and pony show. This was real and I can tell this happens on a daily basis.”

In Thompson, this style of PL gives us confidence in what we are doing in each of our own buildings. It brings us together by making sure that we are all collaborating on the same goal of becoming the best competency-based education system for kids in Colorado. We are united as a district and we believe in the work we are doing with kids, staff, and each other.