GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - 580 students can call themselves a Bookcliff Mustang. The school is located in the east end of town, off of North Avenue. The school teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.
Principal Cathy Drake has been at the helm of Bookcliff for about two years. Before that, she worked for a school district in Colorado Springs. When she arrived at Bookcliff, she began incorporating daily morning meetings in every class, every day.
Drake says, "Everybody gets a greeting. It's a great way to start the day with somebody saying good morning, hello, how are you."
A group of about 20 students in each classroom stands in a circle, and each student announces their name, then walks around the circle offering a high five to each of their classmates.
"It's very much built about becoming a caring community. If you know the people you're with, you're more likely to take care of them, be compassionate with them. And it also gets every child to know the place where they spend their day. That's very important to all of us I think. Is to have somebody greet you, it acknowledges that you're here."
8th Grader Bea Torres says the meetings are a great way to get to know her fellow classmates. She says, "I think it's great because you learn about your classmates, different stuff, even stuff about your teacher."
Principal Drake also wants everyone to achieve their personal best. Each student has received a daily planner that they've been required to bring to each class, every day. They write down their personal goals in the planner, and then refer to it each day.
8th grader Seth Krebill says he set his own personal goal to help him concentrate on tests. He says, "It's a good thing to strive for. Everyone needs to try their best on the big tests. Talking about personal best helps me set my own goals. Staying focused on one test, trying not to think of other things, because usually I can space out."
Once students reach their personal goals, they are rewarded with a celebration at school.
Bookcliff is the only middle school in the district that teaches Dual Immersion classes. That means students can attend two classes entirely in Spanish. Principal Drake says this year has produced the first batch of 8th graders who have completed the entire District 51 Dual Immersion program, K-8, and they are all bilingual.
In the last 3 years, the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders have improved their general rank on the C-SAP. In 2008, 61 percent of students scored at proficient or above when compared to the rest of Colorado. In 2009, that number grew to 62 percent. And in 2010, 73 percent of students tested proficient or above the state level.