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West Grand announces new superintendent

Meg Soyars
For Sky-Hi News
Elizabeth Bauer was named West Grand School District superintendent on March 9.

It was a big night at the West Grand School District board meeting on March 9 with the unveiling of Elizabeth Bauer as the new district superintendent.

West Grand had been searching for a superintendent since Darrin Peppard retired from the role in June 2021. After interviewing three candidates, the board chose Bauer to serve as interim superintendent in July. The job was reposted internally in January. The board ultimately chose Bauer as the best fit for the role.

“We did have one candidate, but overwhelmingly felt you were the right candidate for West Grand,” said board president Mitch Lockhart.



“When I first took the job as interim superintendent, it was because I wanted to give our district enough time to find the right fit,” Bauer responded. “Serving as full-time high school principal and interim superintendent has been challenging as both of those roles are very demanding and are also at different perspectives. I have a great team around me that has allowed me to be able to do this work throughout the year.”

Bauer has been a Kremmling resident since 2011 and has served as principal since 2018.



“We’ve been in Kremmling for eleven years and our family is Mustang proud. I’m excited to be able to serve West Grand in this capacity as a full-time superintendent. I’m looking forward to being able to impact students in a new way, to work alongside our amazing staff to grow, and to connect with the community in this role,“ Bauer said. “We will be posting the high school principal position and starting the process of hiring as we do with any open positions here at West Grand.”

The success stories of athletes and performers outside the classroom also took center stage at the meeting, something that Bauer, in her role as principal, highlighted for the board.

“After two years of not getting to do a lot of things, we’re really proud of the work and dedication that the adults, parents and students put into shining at different things. Education goes beyond the classroom, “ she said.

First, she praised February’s Talent Show winners.

“It’s pretty courageous… It took guts to put yourself on stage and perform in front of all those people,” she said.

In the fifth grade-and-under category, Rayne Pryor won first place by performing gymnastics to “Believer” by Imagine Dragons. Seventh-grader Luke Hickam won first in the fifth grade-and-up-category (which included middle schoolers, high schoolers and adults) with his guitar and vocals rendition of “Bread and Water” by singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham.

Next, Bauer highlighted the high school robotics team’s successful season. “Not only did they get to compete in person again, they got to host the first ever robotics tournament at West Grand High School. That was a fun opportunity, and it was really good for people to see what the robotics team is all about,” she said. Not only did the robotics team have the chance to host the FIRST Tech Challenge at their home base, they also placed first, which allowed them to compete at the state level this February.

Bauer then recognized the West Grand Spirit team. “They had an amazing, flawless…performance at state. We’re proud of you being state runner-up, and we’re looking forward to hanging up that banner in the gym,” she said.

Lastly, Bauer congratulated the West Grand wrestling team, which this year included both boys’ and girls’ teams. Bauer recognized Ben Biekert as the boys’ team state qualifier and Sage Lechman as the girls’ team state qualifier. The girls’ team, added last December, is the only female wrestling team in the county. Currently, Colorado is one of only 34 states with a sanctioned female wrestling division for high school.

“Not only did we get to add this new sport, we had a state competitor in that sport, so that was pretty cool,” Bauer said. Lechman placed first in one match at the state competition after a successful first season.

“I can’t tell you how many coaches and bus drivers have raved about Sage… Every place we go, we get kudos about how polite, courteous and respectful our athletes are,” Bethany Aurin, West Grand’s transportation director, added.

In other business:

•Transportation director Bethany Aurin discussed improving the infrastructure for the district’s electric bus by adding more level-three charging stations, specifically in Granby and Walden. West Grand is one of the few school districts to own an electric bus, thanks to a grant and assistance from Mountain Parks Electric (MPE). “I’m grateful for the electric bus, but my reservations are the lack of infrastructure,” Aurin said. If more charging stations are added by MPE, the electric bus will be able to travel outside the county and be used as an activity bus to transport students to competitions. “That would make a great reduction in our carbon footprint, and a better utilization of the bus,” Aurin said.

•Bauer discussed an informative trip to another district to learn more about the Student-Centered Accountability Program (S-CAP), which WGSD is a part of. S-Cap was created by a group of Colorado rural school districts, and uses multiple measurements to chart student achievement, rather than simply test scores. “The S-Cap is about getting that immediate feedback—we’re not waiting for a test score—so we can create an action plan,” Bauer said of the program’s benefits.

 


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