The Crestone Charter School is culminating a three-year journey in the completion of a new, permanent school building. The official ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on the first day of school, Tuesday, September 4 at 10am.  Heralded by Shumei’s Taiko drummers, students, teachers and families will be joined by out-of-town guests and helpers from the League of Charter Schools, the Colorado Department of Education, DSI Construction and the offices of Harry Teague Architects to share in the celebration and witness the ribbon cutting. Slicing through that ribbon, which represents a milestone in the school’s seventeen-year history, will be its first graduating class of the new building—the senior class of 2013.

When the Colorado Department of Education announced it would begin a special capital construction effort under the “BEST” (Building Excellent Schools Today) department in August 2008, the Crestone Charter School community mobilized to apply for a grant in the spring 2009 funding cycle.

According to CCS Director Kathryn Brady, every step forward from there has been marked by a successful collaboration between the school and the Town of Crestone, the Moffat School District, the CDE and even the Colorado Attorney General’s office. Hundreds of community members gave their time in the three-year effort to see the school built.

The conversations that students and teachers had with architect Harry Teague three years ago from inside their modular trailer classrooms out on County Road T are now alive in the classrooms and common spaces of the new building, says Brady. The values of parents and community members to see that sustainable energy systems be central to the design of the school are now in place. All of the school’s electrical use during the day will be drawn from the sun via a 100-panel PV system.  This will result in large financial savings for the school over the years to come, and also makes significant environmental impact. Every year that the school’s solar system operates is equivalent to preventing 16 tons of coal from being mined.

While the school continues to serve its Charter Mission with accountability to the Moffat District and the State of Colorado, it is perhaps most uniquely dedicated to serving its local roots with environmental education, arts programming, and a spirited commitment to continued self-examination about what serves children best. “What is the most inspired, most effective, most creative approach to learning that we can take?” Brady asks.

“Our involved and active parent community doesn’t always agree,” she said. “But it is the school’s commitment to being in this ongoing dialogue that continues to mark the program’s course forward.” Now, having completed the terms of its contract with Moffat District to “have land and a plan” for building a new facility by June 2010, the program is eligible to operate its charter through 2035 from its new location at 330 Lime Avenue.

The entire community is welcomed to join the school at 10am on September 4. If you are able to park in town and walk to the location this will help alleviate parking on Lime Avenue. For community unable to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony, there will be an open house on Saturday, September 8 with guided tours and refreshments hosted by the CCS Governing Council.