Student Success Stories

Expanding career and technical education offerings, the new Walsenburg Junior/Senior High School opens in Huerfano School District RE-1

On February 5th, 2024, Huerfano School District RE-1 celebrated the inauguration of their new Walsenburg Junior/Senior High School building with a "ribbon-cutting" ceremony. The construction of the 56,000 square foot facility was funded through a local bond initiative approved by voters in 2020. The project also received Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Grant funds from the Colorado Department of Education. Prior to beginning construction, Huerfano RE-1 conducted community stakeholder surveys to gather input on the aspirations and visions the community held for a modern educational facility. According to Principal Heidi Dasko, the community research reflected a desire for the new building to not only prepare students for college, but also offer Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, equipping them with skills for various career pathways after high school. Additionally, we aimed to maintain the rich traditions of band, performing arts, and sports and ensure a safe school environment for all students," Dasko added.

The project unfolded through a year of collaborative efforts with community planning committees and Nunn Construction architects and designers, resulting in an 18-month construction process.

The three-story building is strategically designed. The first floor encompasses a state-of-the-art science lab, a CTE-focused culinary arts industrial kitchen, woodworking, automotive, welding, and business spaces. It also serves as a venue for performing arts and includes a new gym for physical education (PE) and athletics. The second floor caters to Junior High students, while the third floor is designated for High School students, with administration space and breakout rooms available on each floor.

The district recently finalized the development of their Graduate Profiles which was also an effort informed by community input to identify the skills that are most valued within their community. The Graduate Profile specifies the cognitive, personal, and interpersonal competencies that students should have when they graduate. “We use the profile to help create multiple pathways that students can participate in through high school that will provide them technical skills or certifications beyond a high school diploma. Currently, approximately 60 students are engaged in CTE pathways." said Dasko. There are also plans to place students in work-based learning environments and internships within the community this coming spring. The completion of Graduate Profiles is a source of excitement, and the intention is to incorporate the same language from the Profiles throughout all grade levels K-12.

The new building has ignited enthusiasm among staff, students, and parents, generating a renewed momentum. Dasko noted, "There appears to be a heightened sense of ownership among staff, leading to collaborative efforts in establishing how we benefit from the many innovative learning spaces and use this amazing new facility to create vibrant learning experiences for our students. Generations of Huerfano’s students will benefit from this community’s support for its schools for

Walsenburg students working on Culinary Arts student career pathways.
La Veta School District Hosts Individual Career & Academic Plan (ICAP) & Career Explorations Events For Students

January 19, 2024 - La Veta School District:  On Friday, January 19th, 2024 La Veta Public Schools had another career exploration event called the La Veta (Individual Career & Academic Plan (ICAP) & Career Explorations for sixth through twelfth grade students. These Friday programming events are based on the Colorado's Career Cluster Model that focuses on business, marketing, entrepreneurship, finance and public administration.

Micah Espinoza, Regional Program Manager of Outreach and Engagement for Southern Colorado CU systems gave a keynote presentation about the value of participating in career connected learning programs to explore their career options prior to entering college.  Following the opening session, students rotated to different rooms to listen to guest speakers related to this career cluster. Guest speakers included:

  • Heather Curtis, business owner and entrepreneur
  • Craig Lessar, HR Department of Colorado Corrections
  • Annalee Hickey, business owner, broker and realtor
  • Arica Andreatta, business owner, realtor, county commissioner
  • Sara Blackhurst, President of Action 22
  • Linda Chae, CEO, business owner

“Our career exploration events are a good way to engage students to think about what they are passionate about, good at, or problems they want to solve,” explained Dr. Bree Jones, La Veta School District Superintendent. “We expose students to local career paths as well as open the door to the possibilities beyond our community. All of our guest speakers did a great job of not only describing their career, but also their journey and life lessons to achieve their goals. A big thank you to all of the guest speakers” said Dr. Jones.

The next events will be on March 15 and April 19 focusing on skilled trades, technical services and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). At each event there are student showcases from La Veta’s student organizations such as (Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Future Farmers of America (FFA) and STEAM career pathways. 

La Veta School District Hosts Individual Career & Academic Plan (ICAP) & Career Explorations Events For Students
Micah Espinoza speaking to La Veta’s 6-12 graders
Career Exploration Events

La Veta’s career exploration events are an example of how districts throughout the region are bringing career-connected learning opportunities to students. South Central BOCES Student Pathways staff works with member districts in southeastern Colorado to assist with the development and expansion of student pathways and career-connected learning opportunities. This work is made possible by a CDE Rural Coaction Grant, which is funded through the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER III) funds.