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Courtesy of Riley Jones

Palmer Ridge High School senior Riley Jones was recognized during the April 26 Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education meeting as a Boettcher Scholarship winner.

MONUMENT • It had been a while since there were so many guests at a Lewis-Palmer School District 38 board of education meeting, but on April 26, attendance was high. The room was filled with proud parents.

The board heard recognition of students from Bear Creek Elementary School, Lewis-Palmer High School and Palmer Ridge High School.

Palmer Ridge senior Riley Jones was lauded as a winner of a prestigious Boettcher Scholarship.

“I have a heartfelt appreciation to see so many people again,” said Board President Chris Taylor. “The COVID thing, for all of us, has caused this isolation and here to be in a room with so many people feels so good. I hope you all appreciate it as much as we do.”

Tyler Dall, who teaches science, physics and engineering at Palmer Ridge High School, introduced Jones and explained that the Boettcher Scholarship is the product of the Boettcher Foundation, a Colorado nonprofit dedicated to keeping the state’s students going to post-secondary schools within state lines. The award, given to 42 high-achieving Colorado high school seniors annually, is a four-year scholarship that covers nearly all expenses at a Colorado school of Jones’ choice.

Although Jones comes from a home that thrives with Colorado State University Rams pride, she chose to go her own way and will be attending University of Colorado at Boulder.

Dall introduced Jones as a “scrappy” yet humble student in everything she’s involved in, including athletics, academics and serving as president of the PRHS student body. Dall noted that Jones’ service in the student council leadership role was extremely challenging this year, due to the pandemic.

“She has really fought to make this year as normal as possible,” Dall said. “It has been a tough year with lots of doors closing, but she fought to keep them open. She never quit. She kept working, and she kept doing what was best for the kids.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a student body president work so hard to give kids something special in a year where things were just missing.”

Jones said she has not yet declared a college major, but is leaning toward engineering or sustainability.

“I’m really excited about it and I’m just so thankful for the opportunity,” Jones said.

Valerie DeLello, a science teacher at Bear Creek Elementary School and an online science teacher for the district, presented seven students who participated in the Pikes Peak Science and Engineering Fair. Some of these students placed well enough to advance to the Colorado state level fair, DeLello said. Among others, she thanked the parents of the students, and said she knew the projects were sizable and appreciated that the support from home was unmatched.

Judging for the Pikes Peak level of the fair was Feb. 20, which DeLello said took hours because the fair was held virtually. The students’ successes included:

• Audrey Skalko’s project “Spherification” was awarded first place in Junior Biochemistry/Chemistry, among other awards.

• Sophia Taft’s project “Software Integration with Electronic Circuits with Raspberry Pi” was awarded Armed Forces Communications and Electronics (AFCEA) Junior first place, among others.

• Pam Noyarko’ project “Pam Lemonade Laboratory” received second place in Junior Biochemistry/Chemistry, along with other accolades.

• Dempsey Carnahan’ project “The Yellowstone Threat” received second place in Junior Earth & Space, Energy & Transportation, among other awards.

• Lily Sobers’ project “The Science of Spin: Mass and Inertia” received second place honors in Junior Engineering and Physics, as well as first place in the Deep Space Exploration Society Junior Division and others.

• Hannah Perschica’s project, “The Rivers and Streams Machine” was awarded the U.S. Stockholm Water Prize.

Boyarko, Carnahan, Skalko and Sobers’ projects moved on to compete in the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair in April.

Also, Monica Tupper, who teaches Biology at Lewis-Palmer High School, presented students who participated in the Future Health Professionals organization events. The career technical student organization places students’ focus on three main pillars of leadership.

The students Tupper presented placed with recognition in a variety of national competitive events. They included:

• Joselin Smart received third place in the Human Growth and Development Knowledge Test.

• Mikayla Boles, Isabel Smaldio and Sophie Kovar received second place in Public Health.

• Hope Esposito received first place in Health Career Photography.

In other business, the school board approved a contract to enlist Kathleen “Kitte” Overton as the district’s new chief financial officer. Overton comes to the district with over 20 years experience in a variety of business and finance related functions, district superintendent KC Somers said. She joins D-38 from Academy School District 20.

Overton has a bachelor’s in finance and a master’s in business administration.

“Her desire to be with us for the long haul here is just something that we’re very excited about,” Somers said.

Overton, who resides in Monument, said she was previously a longtime resident of Colorado Spring and is very aware of D-38’s quality reputation.

“I’m very aware of the good work that’s been done with the students in this district, so I’m very excited to become a part of the team,” Overton said. “I just can’t wait to get started with the work we’re going to be doing together.”

Overton starts her position as chief financial officer June 1.

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