The Fort Collins ADVENTure CALENDAR is a gift to my daughter and her host-family in Germany, free to be shared with anyone interested in her hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado.

Going to school in America is different in many ways.  Here is a glimpse of what it has been like for  Olivia:

There are 27,000 students that go to 50 schools in our district (covering our city, nearby towns and mountain communities) from Kindergarten through grade 12. The district’s School Choice program allows parents to choose the schools that meet their child’s educational needs, based on space availability. We chose the only elementary at the time that offered an IB (International Baccalaureate) program, and the kids have chosen to remain on the IB track through 12th grade. We wanted them to have the option of returning to Germany and not have difficulties defending the level of their education.

Pre-school, called Kindergarten in Germany, is generally a private matter here. As is Day Care, or Tageskrippe. I am not sure if there is much financial aid provided for families in need at all. And the government does not assure a place in a facility, as was the case for us in Germany once Olivia turned three years old.

Kindergarten is integrated in the elementary schools, and a child starts at age 5. The district has about 30 elementary schools, and Olivia first attended the one assigned to our neighborhood, and transferred by ‘choice’ the following year to Dunn, or ‘Dunn IB World School’.

Dunn fifth graders host the swearing in of new US-citizens annually.

When Olivia attended middle school it was called Lesher Junior High School, with grades 7-9, but has since changed district-wide to grades 6-8. In order to stay on the IB track Olivia ‘chose’ Poudre High School, which is actually closer than the assigned HS. The district could no longer afford to provide buses for School of Choice students, so we are responsible for transportation, though, weather permitting she rode the 6km on her bike each way.

Each high school has a different daily schedule, and I think Poudre HS changed theirs every year Olivia attended! But the day usually started around 7:35 and ended at 3:05. Students bring a lunch from home or purchase one in the school cafeteria. There are vending machines throughout all the high schools, and though the offerings have gotten better, they, as well as the quality of school lunches across the nation, are still a point of contention!

All students are required to take Physical Education classes, P.E., but the high schools also offer after school athletic programs including: cross-country, track, football, soccer, golf, tennis, gymnastics, softball, field hockey, volleyball, wrestling, swimming, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse.

As we left Germany before Olivia could attend Grundschule, I can’t be sure, but one thing I believe is very different is the amount of volunteering parents, as well as other community members, do within the schools here: to read a picture book, help in writing their first stories, mentor a group project, fundraising, or even teacher appreciation lunches, and MUCH more! The level is a matter personal to the school, and is dependent on the time and availability of volunteers.

I’d be glad to answer any further questions, but Olivia may be able to herself!