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Vision celebrates classrooms, community

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Photo by Pat Sunderland Vision Charter Academy students from Mrs. Chermak's K-2 class help hold up a giant $25,000 check from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program. The $25,000 donation is the second to be awarded to the Food for Thought program base

There's a lot to celebrate at the Delta campus of Vision Charter Academy. One short ceremony could barely contain it all, yet executive director Willyn Webb was able to keep the celebrations moving along briskly, beginning with a flag dedication ceremony and ending with tours of newly-completed classrooms. The celebration took place on the Pioneer Road campus Tuesday, Jan. 17, and included special guests Ed Sisson, mayor of Delta; Caryn Gibson, superintendent of schools; Ron Germann, school board member; and representatives from VCA's board of stewards.

"This is for the kids," Webb said. "We hope you feel proud and excited about your campus."

VFW Post 3571, its Auxiliary and the American Legion Post 65 conducted the dedication ceremony for the flag and flagpole.

Quartermaster Jim Baker, VFW Post 3571, spoke briefly during the ceremony. "It is our pleasure to present this symbol of our country," he said. "We ask only that you always respect and, if necessary, defend, this great flag."

Webb said the flagpole is appropriately situated in the center of a courtyard that helps unite the growing campus, which originally consisted of a southwestern style building where Vision learners met with their instructional coordinators. In recent years, however, more students have chosen a more traditional path of learning that's characterized by structured classes. A modular unit was added to accommodate the additional classes, but space continued to be a premium. Over the summer, a second, unused modular unit was moved from Cedaredge to Delta. The building was extensively remodeled inside and out and now offers four classrooms and restrooms.

"We are so excited about the addition of these classroom spaces," Webb said. "It's truly a learning center for all learners of VCA."

The modular unit not only provides much-needed classroom space, it also opens up meeting space in the main building for parent-guided learners to meet with their instructional coordinators. Additionally, exploration classes for parent-guided learners will have the room to be the robust project-based experience on campus it was designed to be.

Kissner G.C. was tasked with the remodeling. Webb recognized Mike Morgan, construction manager, for his attention to detail and for donating the concrete that provided a base for the flagpole.

Her praise was equally enthusiastic for all who voted for the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Grant of $25,000. She presented flowers to a teary-eyed Bobbie Carmichael, a State Farm agent who encouraged Webb to pursue funds for the Food for Thought program.

The student-run Food for Thought program provides backpacks full of food to get kids through the weekend. For the second time, the community got behind the cause and voted online to put Food for Thought in the top 40 to receive monetary awards.

"I'm proud to be part of State Farm, and also of this community, which stepped up and voted for this program, which is so deserving," said State Farm agent Jerry Reiher. He recalled the first $25,000 award to the Food for Thought program, and the sense of accomplishment expressed by the students who put together the backpacks and delivered the food. "This program brings a lot of satisfaction to the students who are doing the work, and that made a real impression on me," Reiher said. "We don't know how much of a blessing this program is to all of the kids."

The program originated at the Delta Opportunity School. While primary responsibility now lies with Vision Charter Academy, the DOS students still have an opportunity to participate in the service learning project, Webb said.

In need of a place to store food donations, VCA reached out to two businesses that funded a storage unit on the campus. A State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant of $10,000 was augmented by a $4,000 donation from Alpine Bank to purchase the insulated, rodent-proof storage facility.

National Honor Society members are currently brainstorming how to turn the storage unit into a food pantry that's accessible anytime to anyone in need.

The final event was a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate membership in the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce. Vision Charter Academy also joined the chambers in Cedaredge and Paonia, the other two communities where VCA offers three paths of learning -- parent-guided, class-based and blended.

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