April 2021




The RECCS Board needs you!  We are actively seeking volunteers to serve as Board Members.  Our organization can’t survive without the support of our members and that means volunteering too.  The Board is a group of dynamic individuals who work together to make RECCS a success.  You don’t have to give thousands of hours and can indeed still lead your retired life.   So, take a moment and reach out to one of the current Board members to learn more about how you can get involved.  We currently need a 1st Vice President, a Secretary, a Hospitality chair or co-chair, and a Webmaster.  Join us today and keep RECCS moving forward.  



Current Board Members

Michelle Kleve, President                

Jim Brickey, 2nd Vice President    

Jeanette Palmer, Treasurer            

Dave Pieta, Assistant Treasurer    

Gayle Meissner, Hospitality Chair

Gail Kittrell, Membership Chair    

Kerry Tripp, Fundraising Chair                 

Carole Smith, Activities Chair        

Beth Giles, Communications Chair

Cindy Fisher, Webmaster                 

Kay Adams, Scholarship Co-Chair

Rodger Stewart, Scholarship Co-Chair


Scholarship Update


The Scholarship committee led by Kay Adams and Rodger Stewart has completed the selection process for the 2021 RECCS scholars.  The scholarship winners will be announced at the June 2 Scholarship reception to be held at the Cherry Creek Innovation Center.  RECCS hopes to have this reception in person but will review CDC guidelines and protocols to make a final decision in May.  Watch for updates and don’t miss the opportunity to meet these outstanding scholars.  Thank you to the scholarship committee and the co-chairs!



We thought it would be interesting to share an update on some of our previous scholars.  If you have a connection or hear from a former scholar we would love to hear from you and share with our members.


Raleigh Casebolt 2014 Scholarship Winner

Graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Bucknell University.  Currently pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering at Cornell University.


Virginia Hamilton 2014 Scholarship Winner

Graduated from Wake Forest University.  She is currently a medical scribe for Navant Health and a Diabetes Counselor for the American Diabetes Association.  She is applying to Physician Assistant School to continue her work in the medical field.


Audrey Ronevich 2015 Scholarship Winner

2019 graduate of Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Arts in Human and Organizational Development and German, with a minor in French. 


Kylee Sibilia 2016 Scholarship Winner

Graduate of Dartmouth University with a degree in Business Marketing.  She currently works in Marketing and Research for The Center for Digital Strategies. 


Bradley Vanlandingham 2017 Scholarship Winner

Graduated from Pickens Technical School with an Associates degree in Information Technology.  Currently working at Pickens as an Education Assistant.


RECCS U Update


Wednesday, April 28 at 1:30-3:30 pm

Zoom at RECCS U: Pitfalls of the Internet w/Scott Henke


Tuesday, May 4 at 2:30-4:00 pm

Zoom at RECCS U: Book Gathering on Biographies & Memoirs


Register for Zoom classes on the website at U

RECCS Activities: A Note from Carole Smith, Activities Chair


Several years ago, a group of about 80 former Cherry Creek retirees gathered at Citron Bistro to share memories of their experiences in CCSD.   I am sorry to inform you that I failed as a videographer of the stories.   Therefore, it is imperative that members write their stories so that they can be shared with RECCS members and the history of the district will not be lost.   BE AN AUTHOR!! WRITE!   Send your stories so that they can be included in our monthly newsletter and bring tears and laughter to our readers.  Thank you


Send stories to:  Carole Smith at or Michelle Kleve at or mail to Carole Smith at 6191 E Eastman, Denver, CO 80222


Also, RECCS Happy Hours will continue until we meet in person again.   If you wish to participate in a Zoom Happy Hour, please email Carole Smith.   

Here is the April selection for your reading enjoyment:


My Experiences with the Cherry Creek Family 1954-2003

Submitted by Sue Nielson Blakeslee, CCSD elementary teacher 1970-2003

I became a member of the Cherry Creek Schools Family in 1954 when I started kindergarten at Cherry Hills Elementary School. I attended Cherry Hills from kindergarten through 6th grade; then I moved “up” to Cherry Creek Junior High for 7th and 8th Grade. It was located near Belleview Elementary and Cherry Creek High School; all three schools were basically in the middle of nowhere in those days. My memories of my nine years there are wonderful and positive. Excellent dedicated teachers, strong curriculum, good friends and high expectations prepared me well for what awaited me.

In 1962 my dad’s job took our family to the Washington D.C. area where I attended high school in Fairfax County. Colorado was calling to me to return so I enrolled at the University of Denver where I

decided to major in Elementary Education. When it came time to student teach, the only place I wanted to be was in Cherry Creek as I hoped that might give me a leg up when applying for a job.


In September of 1969 I was lucky to be assigned to do my student teaching in 3rd Grade at Holly Ridge with Diane Dratler Warner as my supervising teacher. It was another excellent experience, and I knew I’d found my calling. Diane’s teammate at Holly Ridge, Dorothy Lovely suggested that once I finished my student teaching, I should consider volunteering in classes at Holly Ridge as it might help me get a job the following year. I took her advice and volunteered two afternoons a week after I attended classes in the morning at DU. I continued to learn and became more anxious to begin my chosen career as an elementary teacher.


I only applied for jobs in CCSD and in Jefferson County. I was invited for a final interview with the CCSD superintendent, Dr. Ed Pino. The interview (possibly only a formality by then) was held the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, 1969. Dr. Pino concluded the interview by saying the district could either send me a telegram which was legally binding, or I could come in person and sign the contract the following Tuesday.

When I arrived at ESC and explained why I was there, the woman at the window greeted me like family and I signed my contract. I would take a job teaching first grade at Holly Ridge with Diane Warner and Dorothy Lovely as my teammates. So, when I graduated from DU a couple of weeks later, unlike many of my friends, I knew what I would be doing come September.

I spent the summer preparing for the start of school. In August, all new teachers (not that many of us, perhaps 40 or so) met at ESC.

After going through all the necessary paperwork and getting information about a variety of things, we all boarded a school bus and were taken on a drive-by tour of all the schools in CCSD: 8 or 9 elementary schools, 2 junior high schools and Cherry Creek High School.  We ended the tour at Dr. Pino’s home just off Belleview and Quebec for a barbecue lunch. Dr. Pino and Dave Mathias, principal at Walnut Hills grilled the burgers. It was like a big family gathering to welcome the new teachers.   I reconnected with Susan Dawson (later Brickey) a friend from my days at Cherry Creek Junior High. She was going to teach at Cherry Hills.

I enjoyed teaching at Holly Ridge with Diane for 6 years, and in 1976 we were chosen by Louise Woelber to be on the cadre which opened Heritage Elementary.  Cottonwood Creek and Independence also opened that year. Heritage was another special family situation. I taught grades 2-6 over the years and experienced changes in education, policies, administrations, and students and parents. However, my love for teaching and gratitude that I was part of the CCSD family never changed. I remained at Heritage until my retirement in 2003.

The differences between the Cherry Creek School District in 1954 and 2021 are stark—everything has changed except for the District’s focus on providing an excellent education for its students.

I’m fairly certain that new teachers each year no longer have an interview with the superintendent or take a bus tour of the schools in the now expansive CCSD; nor do they enjoy a barbecue lunch at the superintendent’s home with lunch cooked by the superintendent and a fellow school principal!   Times change.

My 60+ years as a member of the Cherry Creek family has provided me with many wonderful friendships and memories as a student, a teacher and a member of the RECCS Scholarship Committee. I am one lucky woman!