February 11, 2022

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Middle School Division Director

Mr. Ron Hamilton

“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”

— Roald Dahl

Greetings Kodiak Families,

There is something glorious about sitting in the Trianon on a frosty February morning, watching the warm sunrise turn my white office walls pink and gold. I love working at CSS; words cannot express how strongly I feel about serving our students, teachers, and families. I hope you all feel the same way and are just as invested as I am in helping our School grow and thrive now and in the future. 

As we emerge from the winter and transition to spring, I’m hopeful there will be more opportunities available for families to become directly involved with activities offered at the School – my fingers [and toes] are crossed that everyone will remain healthy. We have some amazing trips and Seminars coming up, and many of our students will be traveling for athletic competitions this season. That said, please continue to do your part by encouraging your children to stick with our community pledge and mitigation measures (wearing our masks correctly at all times in the hallways and in classrooms, practicing proper hand-washing, staying at home when feeling ill, etc.) and modeling these same behaviors when at home and in public as a family. Thank you so much for your energy and commitment toward keeping our students in school, individually and as a whole.

Okay, now back to my main focus for this letter. Did you know that March is National Reading Month? I’m looking at a recent list of young adult (YA) fiction and non-fiction books of high interest. I love YA literature! I read harder books as well – kind of like listening to fusion jazz or heavy metal in order to stretch my brain – and I admire the hope, resonance, and models of bravery I see in books written for the age group I spend my days leading.

Did you also know our Middle School division received a generous, anonymous grant this year to increase our current collection of independent reading titles available to students grades six through eight? It’s true! We will be kicking off what I’ve dubbed our Read to Lead initiative with a string of literacy events from March 5-10, 2022, to enhance students’ focus on and love for reading each and every day. Our School Librarian, Ms. Gaebler, has been busy planning an amazing return to our in-person Scholastic book fair next month. In addition, Ms. Gaebler – along with a committee of very excited teachers and leaders – are putting together all sorts of special activities to highlight reading and literacy at the Children’s and Middle School levels. 

As we look to spring into reading this year, here’s my message to students and families.

Reading is the single most important determining factor in academic and intellectual growth and success. If we can read well and enjoy reading for all reasons, then we can achieve in math, science, and history. When we read, we are constantly working with strong models of writing, gaining vocabulary, and opening our minds to ideas and concepts that strengthen our ability to think critically, reason, and hope. For some of us, due to time and other constraints, reading may not be a priority. As a parent, your kids need you to model a love for reading. I encourage every family to set a goal for reading together in the next 90 days. Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” read with your children. Read to them. They must hear voices reading aloud in order to develop and hone the internal reading voice that is critical to their love of books and gaining knowledge. Listen to audiobooks in the car and on trips. Listen to podcasts about books and literature and areas of high interest for your children. Pick your favorite book from when you were their age, and read it to them out loud. I love “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean Craighead George, and the “Dark Is Rising” series by Susan Cooper. These were some of my earliest favorites. I’ve read “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien to my own kids. I also love to find books to read that are appropriate for the holidays and other specific times of the year like summer and fall. Read books that make you feel warm, with candles lit and TVs off (no devices either) during the dark nights of winter. If I sound like a snob about reading, then so be it. I also love to read “Calvin and Hobbes” collections, illustrated books, and every magazine I can find about hiking and snowmobiling.

Thank you for listening, avid readers. I appreciate your willingness to develop and rejuvenate your own love of reading for the benefit of your children; our students. Consider joining the Million Book March, and watch for upcoming CSS communications about Read-a-thons, Literacy Week, and the Book Fair next month. If interested in acquiring new, free reading books as part of our Read to Lead initiative, please send me your recommendations as our students have been doing all year. If you’d like to read with, and to, students when we can ultimately return to having adult volunteers regularly on campus, kindly complete the following survey. 

Again, thank you for your vision, for your partnership, and for sharing your amazing children with us everyday. Reading is life! ¡Libros para la vida! Pour l'amour des livres!

As ever,

Ron Hamilton, M.A.Ed. Leadership

Middle School Division Director

Middle School Selfie Station

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An update on the two luncheons I mentioned in January's e-letter! These events were well-attended and generated positive feedback from students, parents, and faculty –so much that the mid-year check-in for students new to CSS in 2021-2022, in particular, will continue on a monthly basis moving forward. Meanwhile, the TACO luncheon, appropriately held on #TacoTuesday, left the Class of 2028 with much to think about as we look to build a culture of respect amongst students and develop self-confidence in each individual. Thank you again to seventh graders Giselle M. and Melinda H., and to The Ambassadors of Chill Organization, for coordinating these meaningful events.

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The Colorado Springs School

21 Broadmoor Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Work: (719)434-3537, ext.550

rhamilton@css.org | www.css.org