Cooking with Williams

A fresh set of challenges faces new cafeteria worker Tonya Williams, who is up to the task and ready to help feed Heritage.

She is coming to Heritage with experience from catering out of Whitman to other districts and is excited for the job at a bigger kitchen in a high school. She’ll be fixing up sandwiches and monitoring the brand new food bar in the cafeteria, which will have all different kinds of fresh treats every day. 

Williams loves being part of a school community. She thinks the kids add to the excitement of her job and make it worthwhile. Having four children only adds to the warmth and joy she feels for the job.

“I’ve got four little girls at Centennial Academy,” Williams remarks, “so I think I’ll be able to handle the kids here.”

Williams is still very new to Heritage but is settling into the high school environment with ease. Her main goal here is to bring healthier and more wholesome meals to Heritage students. Like a lot of students, Williams doesn’t like that lunch periods are not a required part of Heritage schedules, and so she is trying her best to make every bite count.

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Williams serves up some fresh rice with her signature smile. She is standing at the brand new food bar, which offers a variety of different, healthy options.

“She can jump hurdles; I’ve seen it,” remarks kitchen manager, Sharon Schrepfer.

Williams has worked hard to pursue her dreams and has some advice for students:

“Love yourself. You’re the only you that you have,” remarks Williams.

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Reitzma joins HHS

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Reitsema listens intently to a phone call at her desk in the main office. Her office is right outside of Mr. Heimer’s.

Sometimes dealing with scheduling and technical issues can be frustrating for Heritage students. For Mr. Heimer’s new instructional secretary, Andra Reitsema, these daunting tasks are her whole job.

Reitsema may work behind the scenes, but she is one of the people keeping Heritage working like a well-oiled machine, day in and day out. She deals with scheduling issues, audits, and clears out any technical problems that may be clogging up the school. Despite all of the hard work, she’s excited to be here at Heritage.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the school plays in the theater and maybe watching some athletics. I loved all of that stuff in high school, it’s part of the reason I want to be here,” says Reitsema.

“Andra is a welcome addition not only for my office but to the entire school. She’s certainly learning things quick, and we’re lucky to have her,” comments Heimer.

After recently leaving her work at Whole Foods, Reitsema is thrilled to be out of a for-profit industry and into education. She feels much better about working for something that isn’t about money.

She remembers her time fondly in high school and offers students advice.

“Hang in there; it’s tough but you can stick it out, I promise,” says Reitsema.

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Woodman expands community at Heritage

Of the many teachers who are new to Heritage this fall, an addition was made to the Social Studies department in Kirt Woodman. Teaching US History, World Civilization and Geography, he gets the chance to work with a lot of the younger kids in the building, setting the grounds for his students to be successful at Heritage.

“Every student has a passion; what matters is finding and tuning into their passion so that they may grow,” says Woodman.

He hopes that through the course of his teaching, he can inspire. He describes himself as a history geek, something that can even be observed while he is coaching football; he can often be found making history references to help his players remember their playbook.

Mr. Woodman teaches his class about the Industrial Revolution.

Mr. Woodman teaches his class about the Industrial Revolution. He is enjoying his first year at Heritage.

He connects to kids and understands that everyone is a little bit different, something he tries to nourish.

“Everyone seems to take care of each other here, and that’s a very comforting feeling knowing you’re going to teach in a school that is known for being so compassionate to each other,” he says.

Mr. Woodman aspires to raise his daughter in this community and hopefully one day have her attend Heritage, something that was a major pulling factor for him.

Outside the classroom, Mr. Woodman enjoys many things. He loves spending time with his family more than anything. Students may also find him on his way to the mountains on a fishing trip, or catch the self admitted movie buff at the theatre. He spends much of his off time coaching the football team, something he’s accustomed to doing previously at Highlands Ranch High School. His role on the football team is of great importance, and he has described the transition as very smooth due to his colleagues on the staff.

Lifelong friend and former security guard at Heritage, Brian Trautman, can speak to the character of Mr. Woodman.

“He is one of the most genuine and real people you will ever meet, and with him Heritage can expand their minds with his great knowledge, but more importantly teach kids what kindness and compassion are all about,” says Trautman.

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Solis conquers LINK

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Ms. Solis is prepared for whatever LINK throws her way. She is excited to meet new students and get closer to upperclassmen.

This school year Ms. Brittmarie Solís has joined LINK as a coordinator.

“I am loving LINK so far. I lucked out with two fantastic commissioners, (seniors) Hannah Fajer and Erica Brooks, who keep me on my toes and of course, Ms. Glerup and Ms. Rickard who already know the program really well,” says Solís.

Solís has many goals for this school year, including getting proper training at the Boomerang Project and creating a successful ice cream social.

“I have heard [the Boomerang Project] is life-changing and really engaging and that teachers who go come back refreshed and pumped about life and LINK,” says Solís. “Also, the ice cream social is my first ‘solo’ project, so I want it to be successful and fun for the freshmen,” she adds.

Solís, with her self-proclaimed Latin energy and loudness, is determined to build a relationship with all of her LINK leaders.

“I think, despite the fact that she is an excellent educator, this is where she truly shines,” says Celeste Borg ’16, a leader in her advisory. “Her outgoing personality and natural charisma have lent themselves perfectly to LINK coordination,” she adds.

Solís continues to grow as a leader of LINK just as her students grow as leaders in the community.

“I have some huge shoes to fill, as Ms. (Masciotro) Gravitt was incredible! I truly look up to her and hope to be half as amazing as she was to the program,” says Solís.

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Heritage welcomes Hernandez

Hernandez hangs out with a student before class starts. Even though he is new to Heritage, Hernandez previously worked in the special education department in Cherry Creek Schools.

Hernandez hangs out with a student before class starts. Even though he is new to Heritage, Hernandez previously worked in the special education department in Cherry Creek Schools.

As the 2015‐2016 school year kicks into high gear, Heritage receives an addition to the PACE program as new paraprofessional Mr. Brandon Hernandez seamlessly joins the community.

From the time he was young, Hernandez had always had an interest in education.

“I always wanted to give back to kids so I decided that being a teacher would be the best outcome for me,” says Hernandez.

Hernandez is passionate about seeing students grow and being independent.

“Things that somebody says they can never do; I like seeing them accomplish those things and shine through,” says Hernandez.

Originally, he started out as a counselor (Hernandez earned his master’s degree in counseling), but made the switch to teaching.

“It wasn’t personal enough with kids. I wanted to be more hands-on,” says Hernandez.

Even when he’s not at Heritage, Hernandez is still involved with kids. He is currently working on some behavioral analysis for a family that has a child with special needs and still babysits on the weekends for a family he started working for seven years ago.

When he’s not surrounding himself with kids, Hernandez takes his dog, Oreo, for hikes and to agility training. If it is one thing about education that Hernandez loves the most, it is seeing students being themselves and growing more as a person.

“He comes to work each day eager to help our students reach their highest potential, which is the goal of our department,” says Ms. Mindy Wilson, head of the PACE department.

This year, Hernandez plans to return to school and get his masters in special education from the University of Northern Colorado. In addition to returning to school, Hernandez’s biggest goal is to become more understanding. He wants to have a better understanding of everyone and who they are as individuals.

“Everybody has a story to tell and I just need to hear their story,” says Hernandez.

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Duggan returns home

Mr. Kyle Duggan has returned home to Heritage not as a student this time, but as a PACE paraprofessional.

“As a freshman at Heritage, I never thought that I would have ever been working here,” says Duggan.

Until this year, Duggan had still been returning to Heritage to volunteer, despite not being on staff. For the past three years, Duggan has been coaching the Unified Eagles Basketball team, a program that he is no stranger to. The program is dedicated to helping kids with special needs learn and play basketball.

He has been actively participating in Unified ever since he started high school, and this year will mark his ninth year with the program. Duggan had not only been involved with Unified Eagles, but was a student assistant as well, spending his off hours as a freshman and sophomore working with other students and staying late after Unified practices to help out.

According to Duggan, all of those contributions have shaped him into the person he is today.

“We are glad to have back now in the classroom,” says head of the PACE department Ms. Mindy Wilson. “He exerts a presence that is calm, yet, with high expectations.”

Now as a staff member, he is constantly in the classroom working with kids, something he has always dreamt about.

“What I love most about working with kids-especially in the special education department-would have to be seeing students interact and the joy that they display and bring to others,” says Duggan.

Duggan had always wanted to work in the special education department so that he could work hands-on with the kids he coaches.

“My favorite part of being an educator is seeing students understand and comprehend materials and then seeing them apply what they’ve learned to their lives,” says Duggan.

When he’s not at Heritage, Duggan loves to work on old cars and drag race at Bandimere Speedway.

“My goal is to drive a front engine dragster at 200 MPH,” Duggan says.

For this school year, Duggan’s goal is to get a Unified track team and soccer team up and running, in addition to the Unified basketball team. He is most looking forward to coaching the Unified basketball team for the third year as head coach.

Duggan (left) attended the Heritage graduation in 2014. Even though he was not teaching at Heritage at the time, Duggan still had personal connections with the graduates through Unified Basketball.

Duggan (left) attended the Heritage graduation in 2014. Even though he was not teaching at Heritage at the time, Duggan still had personal connections with the graduates through Unified basketball.

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Billeisen returns to the nest

Billeisen working with his seventh hour workshop class. Billeisen ensures that these students get the extra attention and help they need

Billeisen works with his seventh hour workshop class. As a teacher, he ensures that students feel supported and successful.

Self-described as happy, caring and approachable, Mr. J Wade Billeisen has joined the intervention staff at Heritage this year.

Billeisen may be new to the intervention staff, but he is far from new to Heritage. Billeisen graduated from HHS in 1995.

From there, he moved to North Carolina to study graphic design and drawing in college. Billeisen got a taste for teaching while studying abroad in Switzerland and then he returned to Colorado to gain his Master’s at the University of Denver.

“I love the mountains, but I will miss those North Carolina beaches,” says Billeisen.

After earning his degree and student teaching Billeisen then joined the Art Department at HHS. He taught for five years and again left to pursue other projects. He went to Greensboro, North Carolina and continued teaching art. While in North Carolina, he worked also as a graduation coach.

Billeisen continues to make sure that each student gets the opportunity to graduate upon his return to Heritage. Moving from the art world, Billeisen has grown into helping individuals who need a little more help preparing for the future.

“I want every student that walks through those doors to feel as good as I did, to feel part of something,” says Billeisen.

Although 20 years have passed since Billeisen walked through Heritage as a student, to him the school feels like the same Heritage. The staff has changed a lot but to Billeisen they are still a warm, wonderful group of people and according to him the student body is still a caring and including family. It is a family Billeisen is glad to be involved with.

“He interacts with kids in a way that makes them feel like someone is on their side,” says Ms. Laronda Lawson, Heritage counselor. “We are blessed to have him come back.”

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Life lessons on the court and in the classroom

Swanson reviews the day's schedule with a student before class begins. Swanson stayed within the Littleton Public Schools family, as he was a paraprofessional at Littleton High School before becoming a full time staff member at Heritage.

Swanson reviews the day’s schedule with a student before class begins. It is easier for Swanson to become more immersed in the Heritage student body now that he is a full time staff member.

Mr. Joseph Swanson joins Heritage’s family this year‐ now as a full time staff member.

For the past five years, Swanson had been driving back and forth from Littleton High School to Heritage. He had been alternating between working as a paraprofessional at Littleton and then coming to Heritage to coach wrestling, baseball and softball.

Now, Swanson is a full time Eagle, working in the PACE department as a paraprofessional while still continuing to coach.

Swanson loves being in the classroom as much as he loves being out on the field.

“I love working with kids in general,” says Swanson.

Swanson is ready to start this next wrestling season and is excited to be at Heritage full time so his focus can be on Eagles 24/7.

Not only has Swanson coached athletics, but he has been involved with sports his whole life. From baseball and football to track and wrestling, Swanson has been on both the athlete and coaching sides of sports. Coaching even runs in the family, as Swanson’s father was a coach.

“I love being a coach and teaching life lessons and teaching the sport as well,” says Swanson. “I love the coaching atmosphere.”

In his free time, Swanson enjoys heading to the golf course and playing a few holes.

“[He] has demonstrated patience, willingness to learn new things, teamwork and flexibility,” says Ms. Mindy Wilson, head of the PACE department.

Even though he has been at Heritage in previous years, Swanson is shining in the PACE department. This year, he is excited to get to know the PACE department and the administration a little bit better as well as improve as a paraprofessional.

Swanson has already become a successful part of the Heritage community through wrestling; however, now there is the added privilege of having Swanson not only as a dedicated wrestling coach, but a dedicated educator.

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Heritage theatre department announces upcoming season

The shows for the upcoming theatre season include one of the most produced plays in America, “Our Town” and a comedic 1920’s musical, “No, No Nanette.”

“I want to do a show that utilizes my resources in a grand fashion,” says Mr. Mark Devine, the Heritage theatre director. “These are two shows I know and love.”

The selection process was a difficult one with many good options like “Little Shop of Horrors” and “The Crucible.”

“Our Town” by Thornton Wilder follows the story of the residents of the small, American town of Grover’s Corners. Told in three acts, the play shows the story of friendship, love and death. “Our Town,” unlike most plays, features a minimal set and a narrator who guides the audience through the action.

“ No, No Nanette” is a farcical comedy set in 1920’s Atlantic City. The show is about Jimmy Smith, a rich Bible salesman, his wife, his young ward Nanette and the three women he platonically supports. A threat of blackmail ensues when Jimmy realizes how scandalous his relationship with the three women seems and asks his lawyer to break off the relationships. From there the musical continues with scandal and comedic misunderstanding galore.

“I’m looking forward to the moments of connection when actors and audience merge in beautiful poignant moments,” says Devine.

Devine wants to expand the audience of the shows beyond just the student body. He is reaching out to the local elderly community and hopes the shows will really connect with all ages.

Auditions were held in August for “Our Town” and rehearsals started thereafter. Actors and “techies” alike are preparing for the start of the season.

“It’s going to be interesting; I’m excited to see how they turn out,” says Adam Ernest ’17, a member of running crew.

Three students work on a scene in Drama. Most of the students in Heritage productions are also part of theatre classes.

Three students work on a scene in Drama. Most of the students in Heritage productions are also part of theatre classes.

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Back it up at the Welcome Back Dance

While students spend approximately three hours in the Student Center for the annual Welcome Back Dance, the teachers outside of the cafeteria are working hard to distribute tickets, check ID’s and collaborate together to make sure that the dance runs smoothly.

“It is nice to see our coworkers, our new and old students, and sometimes to throw in a step or two when an awesome song comes up,” says Ms. Brittmarie Solís, Heritage Spanish teacher.

Besides the dance moves that students now do in their school dances, there are many other aspects to the dance that made the teachers’ dances in high school different than the Welcome Back Dance at Heritage.

“We didn’t have costumes at our dances,” says Mrs. Jami De Vries, Heritage English teacher. “I think that the costume element is super cool when the kids are creative about it.”

Over the years, the high school dance has evolved, including both the dancing and the music. Since De Vries went to high school in Texas, she reported that they did a lot of line dances, and “Cotton Eyed Joe” was a huge hit; whereas Solís’ Catholic all-girls school stuck mainly to Latin music and dance and was overseen by nuns.

“Compared to Mexico and Venezuela, the dances are very different. Compared to California and Colorado, I think it has just gotten ‘dirtier.’ Why can’t we look at each other anymore?” says Solís.

Students have their own observations about the dance.

“The Back to School Dance was a lot more interesting than a middle school dance, and my expectation was mostly the same from what happened at the dance,” says Sydney Prouse ’19.

Posing for the dance, freshmen prepare themselves for their first dance as high schoolers.

Preparing for the dance, freshmen girls get excited for their first dance as high school students. Costumes are encouraged at this dance.

 

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