By: Tyler Pialet

Nov. 28, 2018

The Estes Park School Board of Education receives a presentation about a “Mental Health Toolkit” that could be implemented in their schools. (Tyler Pialet / Trail-Gazette)

The Estes Park School Board of Education received a special presentation from a mental health clinician and discussed reports from the school board and administration during their regular work meeting on Monday night.

Hannah Heckerson is taking on a new position within the Estes Park School District as a mental health clinician. Her position is under the umbrella of the social and emotional professional learning community. During the meeting, she presented what she called a “School Mental Health Toolkit” to the board. It’s essentially a culmination of “best practices” and strategies for implementing and sustaining mental health services in school.

“A big push in my role and also our social and emotional team has been the School Mental Health Toolkit from Mental Health Colorado,” she said. “They released this excellent document about how schools can incorporate mental health and be a mental health champion in their school system.”

Board President Laura Case noted how Estes Park Schools have health assessments of their students, but they are not as good about mental health. She said that those assessments of students’ mental health should be just as common.

Superintendent Sheldon Rosenkrance offered a brief report about a $7,000 grant from Safeway that the schools received this year. The money is dedicated to the special needs programs at Estes Park Schools and will help those students transition from high school to adult life.

“They’re going to use a lot of it to help students get supplies and things they need to transition into the workplace and be able to utilize different money for entrepreneurial opportunities,” he said.

Points were also brought up during the administrator reports about the need to implement proper education to mitigate students who are smoking vaporizers and to prevent those who might consider it.

Board member Jonathan Hodde raised concerns about how difficult it is to tell when kids are even smoking anything due to the inconspicuous designs of the devices and the odor of the smoke.

“These things smell like bubblegum, and the kids have no idea what they are doing to themselves,” he said. “Doctors and nurses are starting to see those consequences, but there’s just not enough information.”

The board also welcomed Molly Morgan, a senior at Estes Park High School, onto the school board. She is a member of the youth and action club, which allows students the opportunity to be members of various boards in town, and she chose the school board.

“I was first interested in the school board after I declared my college major of international relations. Being a part of the school board will give me experience with small governments,” she said.

Board President Laura Case said that Morgan will be considered one of the board members, though she cannot vote. She is welcome to all of the meetings except for the executive session. Her role on the board will be the board liaison to not just high school students, but to all students in Estes Park Schools.

“Your voice is very important on our board,” Case said. “It’s great to have a student perspective, and we’re happy to have you.”

Originally appeared in the Estes Park Trail-Gazette.

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