A family of hawks recently built a nest in a tree outside the front door of the church at 11755 Tara Lane. Officials from the Colorado Division of Wildlife advised church leaders to get used to them.
"They said there's really nothing we can do, just cordon off the area and try to keep people away," said LDS stake President Chad Larsen.
The family of four hawks, a male, female and two juveniles, are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits people from moving or dismantling the nests of migrating birds such as owls and hawks.
Larsen said he found out about the nest when he received a call from a parishioner about a 4-year-old church member who was scratched by one of the hawks. The boy, Beckett Turek, wasn't seriously hurt, and his mother, Chantelle, said he was "pretty stoic" about the encounter, though he did want to leave the church through the back door on the day of the incident.
Church staff braved the divebombing birds as they set up caution tape and warning signs, effectively eliminating most of the church's parking.
Greg Bashaw, the church's director of public affairs, said the congregation has been accepting of their guests, even though some have left the building to find a hawk or two sitting on their cars.
"I'd say the congregation thinks it's pretty cool," Bashaw said. "They've become celebrities... They're huge and they're beautiful."
Bashaw said the hawks buzzed over church staff as they set up the tape and signs, but they've spent most of their time since resting in the nest or hunting in a field across the street.
The lack of parking complicated proceedings during a recent state conference at the building, but it also gave Larsen a theme for his sermon.
"I just said that we should all be more hawklike, more protective of our families," Larsen said. "We should all make our homes a refuge, or nest, and cordon off our homes from the outside influences that can harm us."
The hawks are expected to linger at the nest for up to another three weeks as the juveniles get ready to strike out on their own. But they may be back.
Wildlife officials said once hawks find a safe nesting site with a good food supply, they tend to return year after year.
"We'll have to stick that on the church calendar for next year," Bashaw said. "'Watch for hawks.'"]]>
Coach: Mike Zoesch
2015 record: 2-8
League: Colorado (2A)
Players to watch: RJ Wagner, OL/DL, Sr.; Wyatt Thies, TE/DE, Sr.; Ty Oliver, QB/DB, Sr.; Kainen Nicholas, RB/DB, Sr.; Nathaniel Spidel, OL/DL, Jr.
Team strengths: Offensive and defensive lines
Team weakness: Loss of skill position players and team will be young at wide receiver and running back positions.
From the coach: "RJ is a 3-year returning starter and the leader of the offensive line. Wyatt and Ty are returning all-conference players."
Coach: Jaron Cohen
2015 record: 8-3
League: Foothills (4A)
Players to watch: Mikey Thomas, FS/RB, Sr.; Drew Behrends, LB, Sr.; Garrett Dunn, LB/TE, Sr.; Quinton Ostdahl, LB/RB, Jr.; Sterling Ostdahl, QB, Jr.; Max Bruner, OL, Jr.; Bridger Arvanetes, OL, Jr.; Michael Lindberg, WR, Sr.
Team strengths: Great team speed on defense and a physical offensive line to go with skill position players.
Team weakness: Three players to replace on the offensive line.
From the coach: "We return several players that have already been starters for the past two years and have some excellent specialists as well. We look to continue to build on the success from the last two years with what is hopefully a strong regular season and run in the playoffs."
Now I am not the first one to share this next bit of advice when it comes to pointing fingers and placing blame, and I am sure I will not be the last one to share it with you either. But we have to remember that when we point the finger of blame at someone else, there are usually three fingers on our hand pointing directly back at us.
Obviously it's the media's fault for corrupting the election for Donald Trump. There is no question it is the previous secretaries of state who should be blamed for recommending the use of personal email accounts for Hillary Clinton. It must be the other driver's fault for beeping their horn when we swerved into their lane while reading a text. And it is clearly the umpire's failure to call balls and strikes accurately that leaves a batter walking back to the dugout in contempt of a called third strike. And it is never the salesperson's fault for losing an opportunity, it must have been the prospect or customer who screwed up the deal.
Even some of the elite athletes from around the globe, the world's finest physical specimens, were found pointing the fingers of blame on weather conditions, the city of Rio, officials, and other reasons they may have missed out on earning a medal. Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying it's everyone, it just seems to me that it is happening more and more and being accepted and even tolerated more and more as well.
There is nothing like a great victory speech. I love an inspiring business leader, athlete, coach or politician who can talk about the dedication and commitment that it took to win, and do it with grace, confidence, and conviction. But I think I enjoy seeing and hearing from people who lost and who handle the loss with even more grace and courage. The business leader who finds herself sharing why the stock of the company went down, recognizes where the mistakes were made, and doesn't place blame anywhere else but squarely upon her shoulders. The coach who says we were just outplayed and lost to a great team. The athlete who congratulates the winner and commits to working harder and preparing better for the rematch. The salesperson who says they were simply outsold. The driver who recognizes that texting and driving is a really really really bad idea.
We love to accept the accolades for success, but for many of us it is just too hard to accept the ownership of our mistakes. Maybe we do it to save face, so that we look better in front of family, friends and co-workers. Maybe we just can't believe that we are actually capable of fault, living with the mentality of "It's not me, it's you."
If there were a way to keep count, track records, and give awards for making mistakes, that may be a contest that I could actually win. I sure have made my share along the way. How about you? Do you own up to your own errors and losses or are you someone who prefers to point the finger of blame at someone else? If you are, just look down and you will see three fingers pointing right back at you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on finger pointing and placing blame at email@example.com. And when we take ownership and accountability for our own mistakes and losses, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a resident of Castle Rock, the former president of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, a strategic consultant and a business and personal coach.
The same goes for humor.
There isn't a single musician or humorist that we all can agree on.
The Beatles probably come close.
Steve Martin probably comes close.
But I am sure some of you are shaking your heads.
There is music that I refuse to listen to, and there is music that I can't get enough of.
There is humor that I avoid, and there is humor that makes my day.
I have a great dentist. She has a staff of 20. I spend a lot of time with them, and with their music.
I don't need an anesthetic most of the time.
But I notice others tapping their feet.
That's exactly what I mean.
Someone somewhere is buying Taylor Swift tickets.
Someone somewhere is buying Kanye West tickets.
"It ain't me babe."
I told Jennifer about our first television. Television in America was new then, and it made stars out of some pretty odd ducks.
Milton Berle, for one.
I was a kid, but I didn't get it, and I still don't.
It was the same thing with Lucy. Not funny.
I watched singers like Johnny Ray and Teresa Brewer.
Then one day on "Bandstand" I saw Buddy Holly. Game on. Rave on.
My mother took my sister and me to a movie house to see "Fantasia."
Bingo: Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky.
I sat cross-legged on the living room floor and watched Ernie Kovacs.
I didn't know the word "ingenious" yet.
On date nights in high school, I dated my radio.
All we had was Top 40, and it was better than nothing, but it wasn't very inspiring.
You had to dig deeper. I found out about doo-wop for one thing.
I listened to the B-side of "Blue Moon," the Marcels' biggest hit, and thought "Most of All" was better.
Doris Day movies and Jerry Lewis movies were intended, I think, to amuse me. "M*A*S*H" and "Friends" and "Seinfeld" were intended to amuse me. No, no, no, no and no.
If it has a laugh track, I refuse to watch it. It's telling me when to laugh. It's telling me that something that isn't funny is funny.
P.G. Wodehouse was a wit. Garry Marshall, rest in peace, was not.
"Happy Days" was not.
Gary Larson was. "Where have you gone, Gary Larson, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you?"
Our first television didn't come with a remote.
And I wasn't allowed to change the channels.
So I sat there and put up with Ralph screaming down Alice's throat.
"Why is that funny?" I asked my father.
A few years later, Archie treated Edith like she was a dope.
"Why is that funny?"
One day I heard Louie Armstrong's "Stardust." Supernatural.
Years later, Woody Allen used the same recording in "Stardust Memories."
Like him or not, his soundtracks are brilliant.
Allen is brilliant too. Others think he is a self-absorbed creep, and probably would rather watch Kathy Griffith at midnight.
I know someone who turns on her car radio, finds her favorite station, and leaves it there, no matter what.
She puts up with Hall and Oates.
I couldn't do it.
She puts up with Adele, Jimmy Buffett, and Garth somebody.
I couldn't do it.
Here's your homework: watch the YouTube of Steve Martin's tribute to Paul Simon at the Kennedy Center in 2002.
It's good humor and good music.
Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that operate with increased autonomy through a system of waivers from certain requirements. They are an integral part of public education in America. Yet these public schools increasingly find themselves under attack in Colorado and across the United States.
The Colorado Education Association and its allies backed efforts to complicate the waiver process for charter schools during Colorado's 2016 legislative session. This alliance also aggressively opposed efforts to fund charter school students equitably under voter-approved property tax increases, thereby perpetuating a system under which Colorado charter schools annually receive roughly $2,000 less per pupil than their traditional public counterparts. This shortfall partially explains why charter school teachers make nearly 30 percent less on average than their traditional public colleagues.
These assaults defied any credible policy logic, but they provided an opportunity to rally anti-charter forces against the expansion of parental choice in public education. This begs the question: What exactly are they rallying against?
Charter schools in Colorado now educate a higher percentage of minority students than non-charter schools. They also outpace the state in the percentage of English-language learners served. Although public charter schools serve a lower percentage of low-income students than their traditional public counterparts, the gap is narrowing. The percentage of low-income charter students has roughly doubled since 2001.
Colorado charter schools continue to serve a lower percentage of students who require special education. However, a 2014 study on the subject in Colorado indicates that these differences are primarily explained by differences in application patterns and student classification, not the systematic "counseling out" of special education students often alleged by charter opponents. In fact, the study found that significantly fewer students with individualized education plans exited charter schools than exited traditional schools at the elementary level. There was no significant difference in exit rates at the middle school level.
When it comes to academics, charter schools tend to surpass traditional public schools. With only a handful of exceptions, the 2016 State of Charter Schools report found that charters outperformed non-charters in both proficiency rates and student growth on statewide assessments. Though more analysis is needed, these positive results appear to hold true for both the older TCAP assessment and the newer, more difficult PARCC assessments.
Most importantly, the explosive expansion of Colorado's charter sector indicates that these schools are serving a significant - and growing - demand for educational options on the part of Colorado parents. The state's first two charter schools opened in 1993-94. By 2015-16, that number had grown to 226 - an 11,200 percent increase.
Charter enrollment growth has dramatically outpaced non-charter enrollment growth, and the gap continues to grow. In 2015-16, charter schools served more than 108,000 students statewide. That represents a 30 percent increase in enrollment since 2011-12.
Though individual reasons for choosing a charter school vary, it is clear that Colorado parents are seizing opportunities for educational choice in droves.
None of this is to say that all is perfect in Colorado's charter sector. Charter school four-year graduation and post-secondary enrollment rates lag significantly behind those of traditional public schools in Colorado. These gaps are largely explained by the charter sector's higher proportion of online and alternative schools, which often serve extremely difficult populations of students. Yet demography must never become an excuse. As always, there is work to do.
Even so, it is clear that charter schools in Colorado are meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse population of students. Meanwhile, the sector is expanding rapidly to meet the demand of parents hungry for educational options and opportunities.
Charter opponents will no doubt continue to fight the tide. But standing between parents and the educational options they know their children deserve is unwise, and I have little doubt about which side will prevail in the end.
Ross Izard is the senior education policy analyst at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
Jackson Crist of Highlands Ranch kept the ball in the fairways.
Douglas County's David Roney saw the extra work on his driving pay off.
Those three players had the top scores in the Aug. 18 Continental League golf tournament at South Suburban Golf Course in Centennial.
Blackwood was the medalist with a 2-under-par 70
"I putted pretty well, got off to a good start and made a few birdies," Blackwood said. "I made five birdies. Everything was in sync. There were no bad shots. I hit the ball well."
Crist, a senior, bogeyed the 18th hole but finished with an even-par 72 following an impressive approach shot than wound up a foot from the cup.
"On the front nine, I started off birdie, birdie," Crist said. "I had four bogeys in the round and I made three birdies on the back nine but bogeyed my last hole. I didn't miss a lot of fairways. I didn't make any big numbers."
Roney, also a senior, finished with a 1-over-par 73.
"I've been working on my drives and I kept it in the fairway," Roney said.
Regis Jesuit was first in the team standings with a four-player total of 302 strokes.
Heritage was second at 304, led by Blackwood. Also for Heritage, Ryan Way had a round of 75, Jordan Phong 77 and Cam Jajaj an 82.
Mountain Vista placed third with a consistent showing led by Nick Kim's 3-over-par 75. Chris Rapp shot 77, Evan Wilkinson 78 and Elisandro Aragon 79.]]>
There will be 42 teams each in Class 5A, 4A and 3A with seven new conferences in each classification formed on an alignment based on the average computer ranking --; or Ratings Percentage Index --; from the past two seasons.
There will be several non-familiar schools playing conference games against each other, which could make non-league games more attractive.
"The new league alignments will put a strain on attendance at games," Highlands Ranch coach Mark Robinson said. "However, it will be good to face teams that are competitive from other areas around the state."
Westminster coach Kerry Denison agrees that game attention could shrink.
"The new league alignments will destroy lower-income school programs," he said.
Castle View coach Dustin Pfeiffer said rivalries in the new alignments will be lost, although teams could still schedule non-league contests against rival schools.
"The RPI system is a year away from being accurate but going to this system loses what is great about high school football," said Pfeiffer, whose team opens the season Sept. 2 against Castle Rock rival Douglas County High School, though the teams are no longer in the same conference. "We have lost great conference traditions and as they change from cycle to cycle, you lose the natural conference rivalries.
"I am not sure how our supporters would feel if we were to travel to Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins for a conference title game as opposed to playing a crosstown rival for a crosstown title. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the years."
That's an opinion expressed by several coaches.
"I do not like that the leagues are no longer geographical and non-league games mean more to our student body than league games," Rock Canyon coach Brian Lamb said.
Heritage dropped from 5A and will play in the 4A Plains League.
"We will line up, kick off and compete against whoever they tell us to," Eagles coach Tyler Knoblock said. "We are just very excited to get to be playing again soon."
Class 3A, 4A and 5A will have 10 regular-season games, with 16 teams in each division qualifying for the state playoffs, which will begin Nov. 12. Last season, there were 32 Class 5A teams that advanced to the playoffs.
League winners automatically gain a spot in the playoffs and the nine teams that do not win conference titles will advance to the playoffs determined by their RPI rankings.
"The good thing is the right teams are going to get into the playoffs," said Valor Christian coach Rod Sherman. "There was some discomfort with 5A being 32 teams and all the others being 16 teams."
"To go to 16 teams, the only fair way to do it was to adjust the leagues where all of the top teams are spread out. What's gone are natural rivalries, but you have five non-conference games."
For a list of teams in each league, go to http://chsaanow.com/alignment/football-2016-2017/]]>
"Once you mess up, people start talking about you," said long snapper Steven Green, a Ponderosa senior.
Long snappers center and deliver the football over longer distances to punters and holders for extra points and field goals. They have joined punters and placekickers as specialists on teams.
"Our position is kind of weird," Green said. "The whole team will be together doing one thing, and three of our positions will be on the sidelines. We'll do our own little thing by ourselves. We don't do everything with everybody else.
"If I mess up, it will be extremely bad. I'm in a more pressure position as in game-winning field goal kicks or punts that could determine if they score again. If I mess up, it will be over his head and on the ground. If the center messes up, the quarterback can pick it up and make a play out of it."
Long snapping has become a more recognized asset for teams in recent years and there are several national camps available for players to fine-tune their skills. Major college coaches are looking to secure good high school long snappers. Division I powers Ohio State, Alabama and Notre Dame offered scholarships to long snappers over the past two years.
"Long snappers are important because they have the ability in one play to change field position," Lakewood coach Jeff Braun said. "It is a skill that not very many have. You need someone who can snap and block simultaneously. I usually get a linebacker/fullback who can run and cover."
There are quality long snappers in Colorado high school football who are drawing interest because of their quick, accurate long snaps and ability to get down field to cover punts.
Green is small for someone who plays on the line, at 5 feet 8, 175 pounds, but he has a chance to play at the next level because of his unique skill.
"I've been coming to camps, watching videos, I've got a private coach and have been working hard at it," Green said. "That's what I like to specialize in. Last year I was one of the top in the state with the fastest times and perfect snaps every single time."
Valor Christian's Devin Noth, a 6-3, 205-pound senior, is a 5-star Division I prospect and is the fifth-ranked high school long snapper in ratings used by college coaches that are compiled by Chris Sailer kicking and Chris Rubio long-snapping camps.
"There are more and more camps to help with recruiting with long snappers," Noth said. "All during youth league, I played as a lineman. Freshman year I wasn't starting as a lineman but was starting as a long snapper. I realized I was OK at that and started improving and working on long snapping. Over the course of that next year, it became a specialty to me. Next thing I knew, I was a long snapper only and working with the kickers every day at practice.
"The things a lot of people look at are speed and accuracy. There are a lot of other factors too. If a college coach sees you and you can snap it faster and more accurate than any other guy, they will take you. But you need a nice spiral on the ball. So having good form, and what your coach wants either blocking or running down the field to make a tackle is important."
Most area teams play their first game of the season on Sept. 1 or 2. Teams will play state playoff games in 16-team brackets starting Nov. 3. Championship games in 3A, 4A and 5A will be Dec. 3. The 4A and 5A title games will be a Sports Authority Field at Mile High.]]>