DSST Green Valley Ranch receives recognition for voter registration

The Denver School of Science and Technology Green Valley Ranch received an award today from Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, back row, left, for its efforts to encourage voter registration.  (SOS photo)

The Denver School of Science and Technology Green Valley Ranch has registered 85 percent of the senior class to vote, making it the first public school in Denver to earn the Eliza Pickrell Routt award.

The award is named after Eliza Pickrell Routt, wife of Colorado’s first governor, John Long Routt, after whom Routt County is named. She was the first woman to register to vote in Colorado.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams told a story he often tells to groups of young people. His high school in Virginia didn’t have a graduating class in 1959 because the town leaders closed the school rather than follow orders to integrate it.

Secretary Williams with the Inspired high school leaders at DSST Green Valley Ranch, John Zeerak and Marjorie Tabora, who are  surrounded by their classmates. (SOS photo)

“I didn’t like that kind of leadership so I got involved and as a high school student,” Williams said.

“I organized about 70 kids to work the polls on election day and stand outside the limit and hand out literature to everyone that came and voted and we changed the leadership in that county for the first time in years.”

Marjorie Tabora, a senior at DSST Green Valley Ranch, who registered the 2017 class and much of the 2018 class, also spoke to her peers about the importance of making your voice heard.

“I know with the current events that happen a lot of you guys are concerned,” she said. “Something to always remember is that voting is the first step and your vote does count and it does matter.”

Secretary Williams reiterated the importance of her message, noting that when he was El Paso county clerk and recorder two school board races that were decided by one vote.

Last year, Yuma High School and Eaglecrest High School received the inaugural Routt awards. This year, Eads and Kit Carson high schools on the eastern plains, Peak to Peak charter school in Lafayette, and Ouray High School have received the awards.

(Main picture, back row, left to right, Secretary Williams, Bradley West, DSST internship coordinator, Ryan Drysdale, Inspire Colorado program coordinator, John Zeerak, senior at DSST Green Valley Ranch high school, and Alton Dillard, communications director for Denver Elections. Front row, left to right, Front left, Marjorie Tabora, senior at DSST Green Valley Ranch high school and Donalyn White, Inspire Colorado program. coordinator.)

 

 

Colorado, the “Burger King of elections”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams talks to Coloradans 50 and older about elections and other issues. He and Elena Nunez, the director of Common Cause, addressed an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute class on Tuesday. (SOS photo)

Colorado is “kind of the Burger King of elections,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams told a class Tuesday during a talk with seniors learning about government.

Williams and Elena Nunez, executive director of Common Cause Colorado, spoke to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a program through the University of Denver that provides adult learning for men and women age 50 and “better.”

Williams explained that Colorado is the only state that offers a mail-ballot system, early voting and polling-place locations two weeks before an election.

“So it’s kind of the Burger King of elections, right?” he said. “Having it your way, however you want to do it.”

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Knoedler & Witwer: The next generation

Aida Knoedler and Kit Witwer ran for president of their fifth grade class at Dennison Elementary School in Jefferson County.

Facebook is filled these days with posts about people’s kids running for school offices, but the one that warmed my heart belonged to former state Rep. Matt Knoedler of Lakewood and featured a picture of his daughter.

“Wouldn’t you vote for her? Meet Dennison Elementary’s newly elected 5th grade President!”

Knoedler’s Facebook post inspired several fun comments, including one from Jon Caldara, the political court jester at the right leaning Independence Institute.

“Does that mean she has the power to pardon me?” Caldara asked. “She does but she wouldn’t,” Knoedler replied.

Dennison was one of five Colorado schools recognized Thursday as National Blue Ribbon Schools, cited for high performance on state and national tests, The Denver Post reported.

Aida Knoedler beat more than 10 other candidates, including the son of former state Rep. Rob Witwer, which inspired this gracious tweet:

Knoedler jokingly responded to the Tweet by saying it was “fake news” that his daughter colluded with sixth graders.

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Inspired by Inspire Colorado

DSST Cole High School students pose with their Inspire Colorado gear Tuesday for National Voter Registration Day.

Engaging Colorado youth in the elections process is the core focus of Inspire Colorado, and the Colorado Secretary of State’s office is proud to partner with the group.

As part of National Voter Registration Day Tuesday, Colorado elections director Judd Choate spoke to students at an Inspire Colorado event at DSST Cole High School. He talked about the importance of registering to vote, ballot issues, preregistration and mail ballots.

“Inspire Colorado is much more about being involved than it is about winners and losers,” said Choate.

Two Cole students made a schoolwide effort in getting their peers registered by working with Inspire and the Secretary of State’s office. In an effort to boost their school’s percentage of registered voters, voter registration forms and NVRD stickers were handed out Tuesday.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams has encouraged young Coloradans to vote by presenting the Eliza Pickrell Routt award to high schools that have 85 percent or more of the seniors preregistered or registered to vote.

Thanks, Arkansas Valley P.E.O.s, for letting me talk about Cottey College

Sharon Kolomitz of P.E.O. chapter W in La Junta and Lynn Bartels, a 1977 Cottey College graduate, at the Akransas Valley P.E.O. brunch held at the Koshare Indian Museum in La Junta on Aug. 26.

A while back, political consultant Greg Kolomitz was browsing through Facebook when he called out to his mother, Sharon, “Hey, Mom, Lynn Bartels went to Cottey College and she really promotes it.”

That’s how I ended up in La Junta one week ago today speaking to the Arkansas Valley P.E.O. chapters at their annual brunch about the incredible two-year college I attended from 1975 to 1977.

Sharon Kolomitz is a member of P.E.O.’s Chapter W in La Junta. P.E.O. is a philanthropic educational organization that owns and supports Cottey, which was founded in Nevada, Mo., by Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard in 1884, back when women really wanted an education and their choices were limited.

The program for the Arkansas Valley P.E.O. brunch.

I talked about my Cottey experience, and how it influenced my 35-year career in journalism and current job as spokeswoman for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The women laughed when I told them my friends accuse me of “Cheneying” the job, because Wayne had called me to ask about the credentials of the some of the applicants for the position.

Now, Cottey might be a small school — and “one of the finest,” as the song goes — but the Cottey connections are quite widespread.

Just ask Channel 9’s award-winning producer Nicole Vap, but more on that later.

Former state agricultural commission John Stulp is the latest example of a Cottey connection, which I discovered at the P.E.O. gathering in La Junta.

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