28th Annual Pueblo Community College Hall of Fame


The Pueblo community braved an atypical snowstorm Saturday night to honor three prominent citizens being inducted into the Pueblo Community College Hall of Fame. These three–Dan DeRose, The Honorable Dennis Maes and Dee Rogers Brown–join those in the Hall of Fame who have made significant social, civil and charitable contributions to the community. The Pueblo Hall of Fame was established to honor individuals who, by their extraordinary efforts, have contributed to the betterment or enhancement of Pueblo.

Past honorees and supporters of the Pueblo Community College mission gathered in the Fortino Ballroom to wish each other well and perpetuate the camaraderie that is the cornerstone of Pueblo strength.

A little bit about the honorees:

Brown came to Pueblo from Albuquerque, N.M., in 2000 as project manager for WL. Enterprises Ltd., and through her role as project manager, has overseen notable local projects such as the expansion of the North Side from Eagleridge Boulevard to Dillon Drive and west of city limits. She has been involved in giving substantial gifts from WLE to the Pueblo community and has served on numerous community boards.

DeRose is a Pueblo native and has strong ties to both athletics and higher education in Pueblo, having played football at East and USC and holding positions such as Colorado State University-Pueblo professor of business, football and track coach; CSU-Pueblo Foundation president; founder, president and board member of Friends of Football. That organization that raised $14 million in 2006 to bring back football, wrestling and women’s track to CSU. FOF also is responsible for construction of the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl, introduction of the school’s 120-member marching band, and continuing support for CSU-Pueblo’s athletic programs.e also served a short stint as CSU-Pueblo’s athletic director.

Maes, who is the namesake of the Pueblo justice center, served as the deputy state public defender in Pueblo and opened a private law practice that he operated until being appointed district judge of the Tenth Judicial District in 1988, and later chief district judge. He retired in 2012, but last month was elected to the Pueblo City Schools board.

For more information about the Hall of Fame, the Pueblo Community College Foundation and community efforts, log on to www.puebloccfoundation.org.

PCC Donor Dinner 2017


Michelle Dantz stood before the crowd with tears running down her cheeks, and emotionally, but proudly, told her story about how she went from a high school dropout to a cum laude nursing student at Pueblo Community College. THIS is why we do this–why donors, supporters and community partners give their time, dollars and energy to students: to invest in the future of undiscovered gems like Michelle.

The celebration of this philanthropic partnership was the focus of the PCC Donor Dinner on Friday night.

Rogene Armstrong and Kathy Farley were bestowed this year’s Crystal Eagle Awards during the induction ceremony.

Mrs. Armstrong committed many years of service to the Pueblo Community College Foundation when she served under the direction of PCC Foundation Founder Tony Fortino.  “Rogene was one of those go-to members of the PCC Board,” recalls Sharon Swerdfeger.  “She would take on projects of all scope and sizes and always delivered success on behalf of the college and its student scholars.” She was the catalyst behind the growth of the Foundation from $93,000 in assets when she started to over $6.5 million.

Kathy Farley has been credited as a community leader who broke ground for women in Southern Colorado.  She  was the first woman ever elected Pueblo County Commissioner. Kathy worked diligently to gain support for countless community projects, including the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, Pueblo Conservancy, HARP, Colorado Women’s Forum and Colorado State Parks.

As PCC President Dr. Patty Erjavec pointed out, PCC would also not exist without the support of community partners and thus the tradition was started this year to acknowledge and honor them. Focusing on health care, awards were presented to Colorado Mental Health Institute of Pueblo and Parkview and St. Mary Corwin Medical Centers.

But sentiments throughout the evening kept returning to Michelle Dantz and students like her, who if not for the support and confidence given to them by PCC supporters, would not be able to realize their dream.

You can help someone achieve their dream by contacting the PCC Foundation at www.puebloccfoundation.org or calling 719-544-0677.

Pueblo Community College Fremont Campus Hall of Fame


The Fremont Hall of Fame was established to honor individuals who, by their extraordinary efforts, have contributed to the betterment or enhancement of Fremont and/or Custer counties. Nominees are considered on the basis of contributions in the following areas: all facets of education; business and labor; arts and humanities; philanthropy; government; law; science and technology; and health and human services.

On Friday, April 21, these exemplary people were inducted into the Fremont Hall of Fame:

Rich Burleson, a knowledgeable educator and dedicated community leader, brought his talents and expertise to Fremont County in 1971. His unique and compelling character was part of his success in building and maintaining the relationships he created with not only students, but colleagues, and community leaders. His integrity, dedication and dependability were evident as he competently completed numerous projects and programs for the RE-2 School District and the community. His professional career included teaching, counseling and educational administration. The Florence community has benefitted from Rich’s involvement, over the past 46 years, in volunteer community service and events.

Judy Lohnes, a Fremont County native,  has proven to be an exceptional community leader who has worked tirelessly to promote Fremont County and its people. Judy has been the Executive Director of the Upper Arkansas Area Council of Governments (UAACOG) since 1992. Through her vision, guidance, and leadership her office has gained the reputation as one of the outstanding Regional Councils in the State of Colorado. She began her career with the council over 38 years ago and has been an outstanding employee for UAACOG. Judy has organized, served, supervised and led many innovative initiatives that have made a positive impact on the residents of Fremont County.

Charles Wolfers and his late wife Earlene have a rich history of contributing their time and talents to Fremont County. They have been steadfast supporters throughout the years as donors, volunteers, and advocates for many civic groups and organizations. Charles and Earlene helped launch the initial Fremont Campus capital construction campaign in the late 1990s and have been tireless supporters of the PCC Foundation.

Scholarship recipients are: Michelle Bauer, Bruce Miller, Leslie Nelson, Dawn Palma, Kaitrin Slattery, Theresa Swearinger, Jena Thompson, Breanne Ulrich and Kacee Young.

Congratulations to these wonderful past, present and future community leaders!

Mile High Academy Annual Golf Tournament @ The Ridge in Castle Pines


Alumni Weekend kicks off with a round of golf.

On Friday, April 14th, 2017, Mile High Acadamy held the Annual Golf Tournament at The Ridge in Castle Pines North. The Ridge at Castle Pines is located just south of Denver and is an award-winning example of Tom Weiskopf’s fluent, well-proportioned layout that present players with roomy fairways, sculpted bunkers and large, rolling greens. It was picture-poster day for the golfers. After a round of 18 holes, they were welcomed to the clubhouse for a one-of-a-kind meal from The Ridge catering service.

The golf tournament was one of many events planned for the Mile High Academy Alumni Weekend, April 14 – 16. It is a weekend of sharing stories, reconnecting with friends and remembering memories of yesteryear. MHA enjoys a rich legacy because so many Denverites choose to support and partner with the academy each year.  The Alumni, as a group, span the globe and sets the pace for being world changers.  The weekend is designed to rekindle friendships, build up the MHA community with gifts and talents, and, as always, continues to assist MHA to forge into a future that helps mold young men and women to change the world.

From its humble beginnings 100 years ago, Mile High Academy is among one of the oldest and longest standing Christian private schools in the Denver Metro area. At its core Mile High Academy has constantly endeavored to bring young people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, while also providing an excellent academic experience.

At Mile High Academy you will find a community centered around learning, exploring and serving.  An atmosphere that is intentional about shaping hearts and minds for Jesus through those vast opportunities inside and outside the classroom.

For more information on the exceptional Mile High Academy of Denver:

Mile High Adventist Academy, 1733 Dad Clark Drive, Highlands Ranch, CO 80126. Phone: 303-744-1069, Fax: 303-744-1060
Email: info@milehighacademy.org

Pueblo Community College Hall of Fame 2017


The atmosphere was upbeat and jovial as the Pueblo Community College Hall of Fame celebrated its 27th anniversary Friday night. Accolades for five stellar community members abounded as they were inducted into the prestigious group:

Jack Quinn–In 1972, Jack Quinn became the third Executive Director of the Pueblo Housing Authority and stayed in the position until his retirement in 2006.  During his tenure with the PHA, the Connecticut native increased the public housing units by 750 percent and became a recognized national leader for his effort as the President of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials.

Jane Rawlings–A Pueblo native, Jane Rawlings has been active in the Pueblo community since returning home in 1996 to head the Pueblo Chieftain’s internet development process. For the past three decades, Rawlings has continued her work at the newspaper where she is the assistant publisher while becoming a leader in southern Colorado in a diverse array of non-profit organizations throughout the region.

Mike Salardino–Mike Salardino was a disc jockey at KDZA Radio in the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll, served 12 years on City Council and has morphed into a successful financial advisor. He is also the president of the local Sons of Italy Lodge and is often recruited as a chef for local charity events.

Hank and Ernamarie Williams–A successful businessman, Hank served most notably as the president, chairman of the board and CEO of United Bank of Pueblo. Ernamarie was known as a “high energy” individual who was committed to making life better for her community.  Her public service reflected her unique diversity of interest. Their award was accepted by the Williams family and a speech by Eleanor Williams Clark. The Williams’ donated a valuable painting to the PCC Foundation.

Emcee Bob Leon Kirscht kept the program moving along and had many personal memories and comments about inductees and attendees. Ron Francis of pewag added light-hearted comments about the importance of supporting the PCC Foundation and the students.

The Hall of Fame marks the prestigious additions of community supporters and advocates of education. For more information, log on to www.pueblocc.edu and www.puebloccfoundation.org.

Fall Festival at Mile High Academy


It was a happy Fall Gathering at the Mile High Academy.

Mile High Academy knows how to raise money. They have been raising money for 100 years. This year’s tenth Fall Festival at Mile High Academy was all about children. There was an abundance of pumpkins, cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, donuts, cookies and at least 100 booths to spend your money. There were too many booths to mention but for sure there was a guessing game, painted nails, face painting, tattoos, go fishing, football toss, and table after table of food. The children and their parents were totally into the fun, games, and laughter of the evening.

Mile High Academy is a private, Christian-centered environment designed to empower young people to excel. Throughout the year the academy sponsors ongoing and specific campaigns that are dedicated to raising funds for the benefit of MHA and its students.

The enthusiasm for the school runs deep. Each time Blacktie-Colorado is invited to one of their events it is obvious that their pride combined with deep, Christian faith and a strong sense of love and respect for the teachers and students is a priority. The faculty and families who attend the school make Mile High Academy one of the top schools in Denver.

For information: Mile High Academy,  1733 Dad Clark Drive, Highlands Ranch, Denver, CO 80210. 303-744-1069.

Spreading Wings Gala Honoring American Fighter Aces


More than 500 guests turned out for the 2016 Spreading Wings Gala Saturday, November 5 at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Lowry to honor more than a dozen American Fighter Aces, extraordinary veterans who have distinguished themselves among the elite in aerial combat.

The event honored veteran aviators from all primary branches of the U.S armed forces. Throughout aviation history during World War II, Korea and Vietnam these heroic pilots possessed the skill, fortitude and courage to survive combat missions and return home.

Emcee Amelia Rose Earhart introduced the honorees who were presented with their awards by Wings CEO Greg Anderson. Their heroic stories are told in “Wings of Valor” a book that immortalizes the individual stories of the nation’s top aviators.
Among those honored were:
Col. Bud Anderson
Col. Abner Aust
Lt. Col. Henry Buttelmann
Col. Richard Candelaria
Col. Dean Caswell
Lt. Gen. Charles Cleveland
Capt. Richard Fleischer
LCDR Fred “Buck” Dungan
Brig. Gen. Frank Gailer
Cmdr. Lester Gray
Cmdr. Willis Hardy
1st Lt. James Luma
Ens. Donald McPherson
LCDR Billy Watts
Capt. David Wilhelm

For more information visit: www.wingsmuseum.org

PCC Donor Appreciation Dinner 2016


“Grit. Guts. Glory. ” Such is this year’s motto, said Pueblo Community College President Dr. Patty Erjavec, when she was describing the climate of support for PCC students and investing in the future of our community through education.

Supporters of PCC gathered in the Fortino Ballroom Friday night for the annual Donor Appreciation dinner, where awards were given for special contributors and students were able to tell their stories about what a difference such contributions have made.

Bill Wilcoxson and the Quarterly Forum, represented by Chairman Ryan Heckman, were inducted into the President’s Circle. Wilcoxson talked to attendees about his involvement with the PCC auto program and his journey with his family’s dealership, Wilcoxson Buick-Cadillac-GMC. Heckman talked about the Quarterly Forum’s philosophy and why the group of business leaders that comprise QF chose PCC to support with a $150,000 grant for the Project ACCESS and Return to Learn programs.

Mary Lee, recipient of the  Kane Family Scholarship, spoke about why the Return to Learn program was so special to her. The program is designed to help students who were pursuing an education, but “life got in the way.”

Richie Innes, coordinator of the Return to Learn program for PCC, was the surprise star of the evening as he talked about the 96% graduation rate in the RTL program and filled in for scholarship recipient Bethany Page, who had a family emergency. Ryan Heckman talked about the fact that he knew Pueblo people were proud of their community, but that he didn’t really know the people involved were so passionate. “Well, you know me now!” Richie shouted, to applause and cheers from the audience.

Additionally, three dedicated board members were honored: Carlos Baca, Sharon Swerdfeger and Joseph Ulibarri.

Each year the Pueblo Community College Foundation takes this time at the Donor Appreciation Dinner to extend heartfelt thanks to donors and supporters who create possibilities for those who might not otherwise be able to get a good college education. It was evident that it is an extremely good investment.

Aurora Public Schools Foundation Gala


The inaugural opening of Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace was launched with the Aurora Public Schools Foundation Gala held Saturday, October 22, with more than 300 in attendance.

Educators, students and supporters gathered at The Stanley Marketplace, in the former Stanley Aviation headquarter, a beautiful mixed use facility located along the Aurora-Stapleton neighborhood border at 2501 N. Dallas Street.

The APS Foundation was established in 1987 to support Aurora area students pursue college and higher educational opportunities. The Foundation meets its goals through College and Career Centers for high school students, initiating direct philanthropic support throughout the Aurora Schools district, and administrating and generating support for scholarship programs.

The annual Gala featured an open-air cocktail reception with music by the Aurora Symphony String Quartet, live/silent auctions and a three- course meal by Kevin Taylor Catering. Aurora Superintendent Rico Munn and APS Executive Director Jay Grimm welcomed guests and supporters while remarks were made by CSU Global President/CEO Dr. Takeda-Tinker followed by comments by teacher/mentors and top college-bound students. The Rangeview High School Chromatics provided a lively singing performance during dinner.

The Title Sponsor was CSU Global Campus with National Honor Society Sponsors: Comcast, Kaiser Permanente, Northrop Grumman, University of Colorado Hospital and Nurgan Palani. Special thanks went to Kevin Taylor Catering and The Stanley Marketplace for hosting at their spacious new venue in Aurora.

The mission of the Aurora Public Schools Foundation is to cultivate community investment to enrich student opportunity. For more information visit: www.educateaurora.org


12th Annual Mapleton Education Foundation Gala


More than 500 guests attended the 12th Annual Mapleton Education Foundation Gala “Opportunity Knocks!” on Friday, October 21st at the Westin Westminster.
Special thanks went to Presenting Sponsor Mountain States Toyota and Media Sponsor Telemundo Denver as well as Lead Sponsors, Colorado Lighting and Crescent Point.

This year’s event featured a silent and live auction, dinner and inspirational stories from top Mapleton students. Emcee Neal Browne kept things moving with several speakers including Co Executive Directors Channing Puchino and Hilary Sontag and presentations by Board President Beth Yohe and Superintendent Charlotte Ciancio. Doctoral Candidate and Speaker Rebecca Vartuli described her educational path in high school with the help of mentors and teachers who helped her reach her PhD degree expected this Fall.

Event proceeds support Mapleton Education Foundation programs including awards merit-based post-secondary scholarships to high-need Mapleton students; ensuring exceptional classroom instruction for all students; mini-grants to teachers with a plan to inspire students awards grants to students and programs ranging from eye exams for uninsured student athletes to entrance fee waivers at games and performances.

The Mapleton Education Foundation Board of Directors is comprised of business and community leaders, parents, teachers, staff and alumni who generously dedicate their time and talent to ensure that every Mapleton student has the resources and opportunities essential for success. 

For more information visit: mapletonfoundation.org

PCC Foundation Friendraising Breakfast 2016


Pueblo Community College not only works to match talented students with community needs, but just as importantly, makes it a top priority to help those talented students succeed.

Many students, because of life just happening, have obstacles in their way to deter their goal of earning a good education. Sometimes they only have a few credit hours to go or a small debt to repay. Out of this need to fill the gap in resources, the PCC Foundation Return to Learn Scholarship program was born.

Through the Quarterly Forum, a group of diverse Denver business leaders and the Colorado Department of Higher Education, $75,000 was given as the lead gift to this special scholarship program. Two very appreciative students who have benefitted from the Return to Learn program spoke at the PCC Foundation Friendraising Breakfast on Wednesday morning.

Bethany Page and Michelle Brassell told their very moving stories to the breakfast attendees, preceded by a motivating “state of the college” address by PCC President Dr. Patty Erjavec.

Lori Lovato of Legacy Bank (and Foundation board member) also announced Legacy Bank’s commitment to match up to $25,000 in donations.

It’s a very good investment to recognize students, especially non-traditional ones, who just need that extra nudge to overcome some of life’s obstacles. Their commitment and efforts to give back to the community will be the reward for the community, as well as the students themselves.

Aurora Mental Health Center's 10th Annual Student Art Contest


Hundreds attended the Aurora Mental Health Center’s 10th Annual “Living Life to to the Fullest” Student Art Contest and Show October 19 at the Crowne Plaza/Denver Airport. More than 20 awards were presented to students and teachers for their best artworks and contributions to students in the Aurora metro school district. Citywide Banks was the Awards Sponsor.

1st Place Winners
K-3     Lane Wegher, Drawing Makes Me Happy
4-6      Brynley Lane, Scout gives me Joy!
7-8     Celine Choi, The Journey of My Art
9-12     Vivienne Blanco, Unlocked

2nd Place Winners
K-3     Intellia Bowen, Mountain
4-6     Annie Nuetzel, Sunset Duet
7-8     Annabelle Smith-Daigle, The Future, Imperfect
9-12   Emma Brown, Ganz AIlein

Photography Winners
1st     Gerardo Aguilar, Gold Sky, 11th Grade, Aurora Central High
2nd     Christian Castaneda, Rose of Hope, 12th Grade, Aurora Central High

Holiday Card Selection
Olivia Nuetzel, Snowy Sky, 3rd Grade, High Plains Elementary

Teacher Recognitions
Mrs. Adams Eaglecrest High School
Mrs. Cahn Challenge School
Ms. Day Indian Ridge Elementary
Ms. Simpkins Strasburg Elementary
Ms. Abbott Aurora Central High School

Director’s Choice Award Winners
Ivy Hankins, Happiness is a Work of Art! 3rd High Plains Elementary  4-6
Mary Harris, Hello. It’s I, it’s me Mary 5th Independence Elementary  7-8
Gabrielle Driggs, The Joy of my life 7th Fox Ridge Middle School  9-12
Helen Kim, Rainy Days 10th Cherokee Trail High School

K-3     Anna Mugongo, JOY 11th Aurora Central High School


PCC Hosts Annual Scholarship Luncheon


Emcee Michael Engle read an anecdote at the Pueblo Community College annual Scholarship Luncheon on Tuesday. He described someone throwing starfish in the ocean, and when asked why he was doing that, the person said he was trying to save them before the tide went out. “But you can’t possibly save all the starfish,” said the inquisitor. “Yes, but it’s important to each of the ones I did save.”

Such is the sentiment behind helping students reach their potential and goals through education and scholarships. If we can help some students, each one will make their own contributions to the community and possibly to the world.

The Pueblo Community College Foundation hosted a luncheon at the Fortino Ballroom to congratulate scholarship recipients and thank donors. PCC President Dr. Patty Erjavec welcomed everyone, and Barbara Fortino, who was the chair of the scholarship committee, thanked everyone for their hard work. Shelley Banker, deputy director of the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative talked about the importance of scholarship funding in Colorado, and student Mary Lee made it evident by her speech why she was chosen for the prestigious Kane Family Foundation Scholarship.

We’re all in this together, and it’s a good thing to pay it forward.

Mile High Academy


Mustang Mosey Race

The 3rd Annual Mustang Mosey ran its course Sunday, September 18, 2016. Approximately 50 participants showed up in real running shoes, shorts, headbands and high energy for the 5K and 10K run. Children wanting to run participated in the Kid’s Dash. Mothers of Mile High Academy provided bottled water, bagels, fruit, fruit bars and hugs.

What a fun event for everyone. Families, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and pets showed up to run on this beautiful day in September. All runners received a t-shirt and a medal. Even Pan the dog was a genuine winner.

Mile High Academy’s mission is to provide an excellent Christ-centered education that empowers young people to excel.  Mile High Academy is a Christian college preparatory coeducational P-12th grade day school.  Their school is structured with the student always in mind.  Divided into Preschool, Lower School K-5, Middle School 6-8, and Upper School 9-12, Mile High Academy serves the needs of each student by providing character modeling, a passion for service, learning that happens inside and outside the classroom, and teachers that genuinely care about the successes of their students.

Visit the campus to see the Mile High Academy difference for yourself!

Mile High Academy, 1733 Dad Clark Drive, Highlands Ranch, 303-744-1069.

Korbel School Welcomes Vice President Joe Biden


Josef Korbel left a legacy of turning adversity into success. A two-time refugee from his homeland–escaping the Nazi invasion in 1939 and fleeing the Communists’ takeover in 1948, he came to America and eventually founded the University of Denver’s international school. His daughter learned valuable lessons from him and went on to become one of the most respected political figures in history. Her name is Madeleine Albright.

Not only does the Korbel school spawn famous and talented alumni, but it is also known for values and teachings that are unparalleled. The Korbel Dinner is the school’s premier event and honors Josef Korbel. Each year, the Korbel Dinner features an internationally-prominent keynote speaker and honors people who have made a global impact. That tradition was perpetuated Thursday night as Vice President Joe Biden came to share his thoughts about the global state of affairs.

Audience members gathered in the DU Ice Arena–Biden joked that he would talk fast so guests wouldn’t freeze–but attendees didn’t seem to mind. Being given an opportunity to hear first hand the thoughts of our nation’s Vice President was paramount.

After the Vice President’s address, Kent Thiry was awarded the university’s International Bridge Builders Award and Carrie and John Morgridge were bestowed the Josef Korbel Humanitarian Award.

Welcome and introductory remarks were given by Chancellor Rebecca Chopp and Ambassador Christopher Hill (Ret.), dean of the Korbel School of International Studies.

The philanthropic impact of the Korbel Dinner benefits the school’s programs, scholarships and research centers, which are designed to serve the students and the community at large.

To read more about the Korbel school, its history, programs, famous alumni and other information, log on to www.du.edu/korbel/

Pueblo Community College hits the Links


Sunny weather and dispositions made for a marvelous day at Pueblo Country Club as supporters, donors and friends of the Pueblo Community College Foundation gathered for the annual golf tournament.

Funds from the annual Fore! Education Golf Tournament support the Pueblo Community College Foundation and its mission to fund scholarships for students who attend Pueblo Community College in Pueblo, Canon City, Durango and Mancos/Cortez.  In addition to student scholarships, the PCC Foundation works to raise the funding necessary to support programs of academic excellence at Pueblo Community College.

Winners included:

  • Alice Birch, women’s closest to the pin
  • JJ Grillion, men’s closest to the pin
  • Casey Edwards, men’s straightest drive
  • Last but not least team: Baca Properties
  • 3rd place team, flight two: Team Erjavec
  • 3rd place team, flight one: CSU-Pueblo President’s team
  • 2nd place team, flight two: Friends of the Foundation team
  • 2nd place team, flight one: Spradley Auto
  • 1st place team, flight two: Team Bell, Canon City
  • 1st place team, flight one: Team Alire

Mile High Academy Golf Tournament



Finally, after an April cancellation, the weather cooperated and the Mile High Academy alumni golfers lined-up their golf carts under sunny blue skies and, like clock-work, shot across the lush fairways at The Ridge in Castle Pines. The competition was fierce for prizes offered in categories such as best putt, longest drive, best score. Coveted prizes, like an iPad, sports tickets, and cash were worth the extra concentration as the MHA supporters made their way back to the clubhouse for burgers and awards.

The annual tournament registered 60 golfers for a day of golf and camaraderie in a lovely Colorado setting on one of the prettiest golf courses in the Denver area.

Mile High Academy is a Christian based school that has been guiding and teaching children in Denver for many years. Last year the school moved to a newer and larger facility in Highlands Ranch to better serve the Academy community.

Kase Vunileva, the beloved principal of the well-respected school is an active leader and instrumental in maintaining the high standards of education, Christian beliefs, and guiding the well-prepared adolescents from the Academy halls to college campuses. It’s easy to see the love and gratitude of parents and alumni who return to support the school throughout the year. The fund-raisers and events held throughout each school year bring families, former students and, entire generations of Mile Academy alumni together to ensure that the spirit and the quality of Mile High Academy continues.

For information on the Mile High Academy please contact Jocelyn Aalborg, 1733 Dad Clark Drive, Highlands Ranch, CO 80126. 303-744-1069. www.mileacademy.org





PCC Foundation Hosts Fremont Hall of Fame Dinner


The weather was dampened but spirits were definitely not Friday night as the Canon City community came together to induct 3 exemplary people into the Pueblo Community College Fremont Campus Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame not only recognizes exemplary community service and support from these individuals, but also serves as an opportunity to raise funds for scholarships for students at the Fremont campus.

The 2016 inductees:

Maureen O’Shea Baxter joined the faculty of the Pueblo Community College Fremont Campus in its early years and was named Faculty of the Year for the 1987-88 school year. She was known for her teaching excellence, commitment to nursing and mentorship of her students. She passed away in 2010. Her son Mike Baxter and many of the Baxter family members were on hand to reminisce about Maureen’s life and accept the award on her behalf.

Larry Oddo has made a noticeable impact on Fremont County in a relatively short period. He and his family moved to Canon City in 2005 and purchased The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey. Not only has Oddo built a successful business, winning dozens of awards for the wine he produces, he quickly became a hands-on member of the community and a staunch supporter of the region’s amenities and lifestyle.

Will Colon, right, congratulates inductee Larry Oddo

Will Colon, right, congratulates inductee Larry Oddo

Will Colon, who introduced Larry, aptly commented that Larry ends up being treasurer or president of all of the numerous boards he joins.

Myron “Smitty” Smith has been a contributor to Fremont County’s business and public service communities for more than six decades. Founder of Master Printers, he has also served as a Fremont County Commissioner and Florence City Council member and was executive director of the Fremont Economic Development Corporation. In addition to serving on other local boards, he helped develop the Airport Memorial Park and was instrumental in acquiring

Inductee Smitty Smith proudly holds Isaiah

Inductee Smitty Smith proudly holds Isaiah

the F-4 jet fighter that is on display at the Veteran’s Memorial at the Fremont County Airport. He served on the original fundraising committee to convert the women’s prison into the Museum of Colorado Prisons. He was introduced by his proud son, Myron “Frank” Smith Jr.

Because this program is all about the students, four exemplary scholars were awarded scholarships: Shyla Briese Young, Ryan Fisher, Rebecca Johns and Edna “Beth” Newey, who gave a resounding speech and demonstrated that if her chosen career as a librarian doesn’t work out, she also has a future as a comedienne.

The room was full of talent and promise, from past to future. These exemplary honorees paved the way for setting an example of leadership, and our scholars are continuing to carry the torch in just as impressive fashion.

PCC Mingling & Mocktails


Perseverance is the operative word at Pueblo Community College. Whether it be a student working hard to earn a degree and becoming successful in the business world, or a non-traditional student overcoming the odds to get their long-dreamed-of diploma, the drive and persistence it takes to succeed is always an element.

Visiting speaker Woody Roseland had the same sentiment when he talked to attendees Thursday night at the 3rd annual “Mingling and Mocktails” event at PCC. He told the crowd comprised of high schoolers, college students, mentors and supporters all about his philosophy of just throwing out creativity into the universe and seeing what sticks. He had one of his first videos “go viral” with 250,000 views, resulting in CEOs and corporate entities contacting him to speak and gain from his expertise. “Sometimes you put everything into a project and it ends up failing. But you have to get back up and keep trying,” he told the crowd. He mentioned almost offhandedly that he happened to have a rare form of cancer when he was 16, relapsed 7 times and lost his left leg. But that doesn’t come anywhere close to defining Roseland. His boundless energy and live-for-the-moment attitude has made him a success on many levels.

Even emcee Marcus Martinez exhibited he has what it takes to succeed. A novice at navigating a program, he took the stage with confidence and humility, delivering an honest and refreshing commentary on the program. He just went with his heart.

Mingling and Mocktails is an event that brings together students from various levels to network and learn etiquette. And, as we learned after hearing Roseland speak, to make perseverance an integral part of the academic arsenal.


2016 Pueblo Community College Hall of Fame


Pueblo Community College is indeed all about community. Supporters of the college and education in general are consistently advocating “community” as one of the cornerstones of success.

The Pueblo Community College Hall of Fame dinner on Friday night continued with that tradition. Four exemplary people were inducted into the Pueblo Community College Hall of Fame during the annual dinner, where friends, family, past honorees and supporters gathered to eat, drink and be merry. This year’s honorees were:

Dian and Gerry Montgomery, who are both native Puebloans and co-owners of Montgomery & Steward Funeral Directors. The Montgomerys have devoted much of their time and financial support to Pueblo’s arts organizations and several civic groups. The couple’s love of animals led to their sponsorship of pet memorial services that are conducted by local clergy.

Tom Welte and Joe Welte, along with their sister Anne Henne, are owners of Summit Brick & Tile Co., a family business founded by their grandfather in 1902. The Weltes were named the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce’s Charles W. Crews Business Leaders of the Year in 2003. Both have extensive civic involvements, serving on boards and supporting numerous local organizations and businesses. Joe is currently the president of the PCC Foundation.

Non-traditional student Jean Daniel gave a heartfelt speech about how PCC’s educational opportunities and core values changed her life. She is solid proof of what a good education like that gained at PCC can do for a person.

Jovial emcee Craig Eliot expertly navigated the program, which was filled with laughter, tears and memories. And it all boils down to how we relate to one another; our community.

Groovy Guests Boogie Down At Disco Daze Wine & Dine


Whether they lived it or just watched it in a movie, guests at this year’s Disco Daze Wine & Dine were whisked back to a shiny-polyester, “Saturday Night Fever” time when people were enticed to do the Hustle en masse. Even without a designated area for dancing, classic 1970s club hits inspired spontaneous boogie-oogie moves throughout the evening at Colorado Academy Campus Center.

Tim Wachuta (left) and John Fenley. Move over, John Travolta!

Tim Wachuta (left) and John Fenley. Move over, John Travolta!

The annual, themed Wine & Dine event is the primary fundraiser for Horizons at Colorado Academy, a year-round enrichment program to help disadvantaged kids achieve academic success. On Thursday, Feb. 18, more than 300 mostly costumed supporters were able to spend the evening noshing nonstop on tasty tidbits and scrumptious spirits from Denver’s best chefs, eateries and purveyors.

Thanh Luony is dressed to the nines...and the '70s.

Thanh Luony is dressed to the nines…and the ’70s.

With a sparkling array of niceties, guests placed strategic bids on silent-auction items, and the live auction was led by emcee Tom Kimball, former president of Colorado Academy’s alumni association board. The purpose of the evening wasn’t forgotten, as Horizons student Edith Villalobos spoke to the crowd about her own 17-year journey with Horizons that began in kindergarten and continued on to her college success. She was introduced by Horizons Executive Director Jessie Skipwith.

Horizons at Colorado Academy, part of a national network in 17 states, is a non-profit program that offers student enrichment designed specifically for Denver Public School children from low-income families. The program is committed to the development of the whole child through experiences that enhance self-esteem, foster responsibility, build problem-solving skills, and encourage a life-long interest in learning. It emphasizes academic enrichment, social growth with structured group dynamics, swimming lessons and sports participation, life-skills, cultural experiences and the arts. Horizons students use Colorado Academy facilities, bus transportation, dining services and educational resources, and many student and parent volunteers from the school provide program support.

Horizons is entering its 19th year at Colorado Academy and serves more than 140 students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 10. The program has a proven track record providing on average 3-4 months in academic gains over just six weeks in the summer, a time during which children would normally lose up to three months of skills. Horizons can provide two healthy meals per day for each student during the summer program. Through year-round “Super Saturday” programming, students stay connected to their Horizons teachers and peers. The year-to-year retention rate of students is 98 percent.

Colorado Academy’s program is among the first in the country to develop a Horizons high school component. Students in this age group take part in activities such as as college visits, application “boot camps” and interviewing skills. Horizons faculty and staff salaries and program operating costs are provided through generous support from the community and other foundations. For more information, please visit: http://www.coloradoacademy.org/Page/Programs (select Horizons from the drop-down menu).