Steve Olstad

I can sympathize with loving one's pet beyond what most consider ordinary, but halfway through the article chronicling the Franciscos' tribulation, I was stunned that the object of their ire was Carroll Loyer. The same January that Cuddles died, I landed at the South Downing clinic with my cat, who was in the advanced stages of a chest infection. Carroll Loyer oversaw my case and, for the record, was one of the most compassionate, attentive and professional vets I have ever dealt with. Animal companions are hard to let go of, even when their bodies are ravaged, and it requires courage to deal with the emotional tumult that surrounds their death.

Dr. Loyer could not have been more sensitive, start to finish.
A. Kiser

Open to Question
As a parent of a student at Jefferson County Open School, I know how wonderful and progressive the school really is. As a result, I was nauseated by Steve Jackson's article, "Closed Encounters," in the September 27 issue. Not only was the piece poorly written, but it was further evidence of your devolution from a credible news publication to a silly mainstream rag. Soon you will end up with the readers you probably respect the least--the religious rednecks and the nasty neo-conservatives. Like the tired old conventional schools that deliver the curriculum the same way they did 120 years ago, we also seem to have a glut of shallow, mindless scandal sheets like Westword. What a waste of paper!

Fredric Posner

Reading the letters about Steve Jackson's "Closed Encounters" in the last issue, I had to wonder if the two Open School students read the same story that I did. I found Jackson's article to be a moving, fair account of how an excellent principal lost her job because of a closed-minded, possibly homophobic Jeffco school board.

If people at the Open School are protesting loudly now, perhaps it is because they stayed silent when they could really have made a difference for Karla Myles by speaking out.

Aimee Sample

As a member of the Jeffco Open School leadership circle, I was part of the discussion of how or whether to respond to your article. Many of us have long felt that the antiseptic of open air and a chance to address the societal issues raised in the failure to renew Karla Myles's contract might be a good thing. Unfortunately, your coverage did nothing to form the issues of how leadership in our schools is allowed but not encouraged; the role of parents versus the interests of the school district; or the protections we should provide "avowed homosexuals" in our society. Since your article merely concentrated on the microscopic frailties of the individuals who have given life and blood to our school, we felt there could be no response. The facts as presented must be acknowledged, and as often happens in life or self-defined communities, we have survived what was a very ugly event. It was an event that took on a life of its own, and one for which many, many of us have suffered, Karla Myles far beyond whatever her sin might have been.

And so we reluctantly decided not to respond. What could we say? Perhaps, we decided, we should be grateful that you did not expose the secrets of our school: its successes. We have more than our share of National Merit Scholars; we have swept the district-wide PTSA poetry contest in the middle school; we had district finalists to the Odyssey of Mind teams; we have a graduation rate equal to most Jeffco high schools, with placements in all the prestigious colleges in the country, even graduates who complete their college programs magna cum laude. Individual students have had their own recognition, and among our graduates we count, yes, doctors and lawyers and artists. We also have students who have won no awards but who know what their passion in life is and have explored many avenues to fulfillment. All of these accomplishments have happened in the past two years while we were supposed to be "paralyzed" by the dysfunction described in your superficial account. This year we will celebrate 25 years as an option school in Jefferson County, daring our students to be all they can be.

No, there is little to add to your reporting on a narrowly defined topic. However, I feel I must respond to the October 4 letter signed by Bob Hablutzel of Castle Rock, because the debate surrounding educational objectives in our public schools is very important. I cannot imagine what prompted him to write with no knowledge of our students, their accomplishments or our school philosophy. It is true that we do not hope to educate our students for the workaday life he currently experiences; we educate for the future and hold them to the higher standard of self-fulfillment. It is true that we do not require our students to attend school as he attends work; children should be expected to be children and learn as children, not small adults. It is true that we do not presume to present our children with all the facts of the known world to date; to do so would be impossible or biased. It is much more important to us that each student develops critical-thinking abilities, curiosity, compassion, confidence, cooperation and even competence. JCOS is a magical place inhabited by mere humans. Your reporter, Mr. Hablutzel and anyone else who wants to observe the joy of learning should visit.

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