Rifle High grads look forward to sending kids to Coal Ridge
With today’s official opening of Coal Ridge High School a new generation of students are ready to begin new school traditions. Many parents think it’s pretty neat that their kids get to go to school closer to home.For Jeff and Brenda Simonson, of New Castle, high school meant traveling to Rifle every school day. Now their son Kyle and daughter Ali will go to the new Coal Ridge High School, in Peach Valley, half way between Silt and New Castle on Highway 6&24.For Jeff, who graduated from Rifle in 1980, getting to Rifle for school was a challenge.”You definitely wanted to have a driver’s license to make sure you could be involved in all the activities,” he said. “I was always late and missing the bus.”While his parents faithfully attended his sporting events – Jeff played basketball, football and wrestling – it will be a bit easier for him with his kids going to school closer to home.Both of Jeff’s parents were graduates from New Castle High School – Scherry Simonson in 1957 and Chuck Simonson in 1956. The high school closed in 1963.Jeff and Brenda both like the fact that Coal Ridge, which opens to freshmen and sophomores, will have relatively small classes. So did Rifle High when they were in school.”(Coal Ridge, like Rifle) will be more about the kids, more one on one,” he said.Kyle, who participated in the school’s ribbon cutting during the open house a few weeks ago, will be a sophomore this year. Like his dad, he’s going out for sports. Kyle plans to go out for baseball, basketball and golf. He’ll also continue in the rock climbing program at Rifle.Ali will be a freshman. “She’s really excited about the music program,” Jeff said. “I have great memories about high school. I was in drama and cheerleading. I loved high school,” Brenda said.Both parents hope their kids have the same experience. Judging from orientation night last week, it appears the school is on the right track.”Orientation was fantastic. You could really feel the excitement of the staff,” Brenda said.She’s also enthusiastic about a new advisory program which assigns one teacher to a particular student. “So if there’s a problem you contact their advisor. There’ll be one staff member who will be really involved with your child,” Brenda said. “It’s hard to get to know all the teachers.”For Jackie McNeel Smith, having her daughter Britney in an area high school continues a family tradition. Britney is “fifth or sixth generation” to go to high school in the area, Smith said. Smith grew up in New Castle and also went to Rifle High School. She hopes for the same small-town feeling she experienced in school.”I hope it stays real personable,” she said.Britney is “ecstatic” about starting at Coal Ridge. “She just loves school and the small town thing,” Smith said.In fact, Britney volunteered this summer to help set up the library at Coal Ridge.She’ll go out for volleyball, soccer and golf, her mom said.Smith also has two other children in school. Devin Smith will be a senior at Rifle High School this year, and son Casey Gray will be a fourth-grader at Kathryn Senor Elementary School, in New Castle. “It’ll be neat for him to go all the way through (Coal Ridge),” she said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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