Bayfield Middle School's first Epic Day was so successful that it will be expanded to the seventh grade, as well.
That's what BMS Principal Tod Lokey told the Bayfield School Board on Tuesday night. The first day, held on Feb. 9, was for eighth graders, and he is seeking donations to pay for an event for the seventh grade.
A group from Tiospaye, a non-profit organization, organized the event after learning about recent suicides in the community. Over the last three years, two middle school students, a middle school counselor and an elementary school teacher died by suicide in Durango.
This fall, a 10-year-old elementary school student in Dolores and a 14-year-old student at Montezuma-Cortez High School also died by suicide.
The event focused on treating people with respect and helping to heal from bullying behavior, or from bullying others.
Lokey is asking for $10 donations per student "to help change a life." The response from the community so far has been enthusiastic, he added.
Board member Daniele Hillyer said she picked up six girls from school after the first Epic Day and some of them were crying, the experience had been so powerful. They also talked a lot about how to treat other students and teachers in school.
"It was wonderful," Hillyer said.
Regarding school personnel, BHS Principal Leon Hanhardt said he already has 16 applicants for the athletic director-assistant principal position the school is advertising.
The board also touched briefly on needing two new elementary principals for the 2018-2019 school year. BES principal Diane Sallinger will be retiring after the next school year, and the new building for upper-level elementary students will be opening.
Superintendent Troy Zabel said he and the elementary staff are trying to prepare for another potentially large kindergarten class next fall. About 140 kindergarten students are expected to enroll, and the primary school "is maxxed," he said. "We don't have a place to put them. It's a good thing we're building those buildings."
Site work is starting on the new elementary school, which will be across the street from Bayfield Middle School and is slated to open in 2018.