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Longtime Poudre High School staff member hired as school’s new principal

In World
June 21, 2024

Carey Christensen began working at Poudre High School 25 years ago, as an athletic trainer.

Since then, she’s worked as a paraprofessional, taught Spanish and physical education courses and served as an assistant principal and athletic director.

On July 1, she’s moving up again — this time to the very top as just the sixth principal at a school that opened 60 years ago.

“I’m super excited,” Christensen said Tuesday. “I love our school; I love our culture and just all the different opportunities we have for our students — from our concurrent enrollment to the different pathways we have.”

Christensen replaces Kathy Mackay, who is stepping down after 11 years to become the principal of an international high school in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Christensen said she hadn’t thought about becoming a principal until she learned Mackay was leaving and urged her to apply.

The previous four principals at Poudre, which opened in the fall of 1964, were Reid Pope (1964-85), Edgar Rice (1986-92), Sandra Lundt (1993-2009) and George Osborn (2009-13), according to the school’s website.

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Poudre’s enrollment has declined from 1,928 students in 2008-09 to 1,573 this past school year, according to annual enrollment data from the Colorado Department of Education. Maintaining the wide range of options available to students — from the International Baccalaureate program to music, drama, foreign language, industrial arts, physical education, art, family and consumer studies, business, Junior ROTC and multiple work-based learning programs — is one of Christensen’s primary concerns. She hopes to find grants and other funding sources beyond the per-pupil funding the school receives through the state and Poudre School District to keep those programs running.

“And to see what new things we can bring here, as well,” she said.

The school draws students from a huge geographical area, stretching west to the Continental Divide at the top of Cameron Pass, north to the Wyoming state line, as far east as the Fort Collins Country Club and Interstate 25 and as far south as the Colorado State University campus.

The diversity that comes from such a large area — economically, racially, socially and culturally — makes Poudre a bit unique among Fort Collins’ four comprehensive high schools. And that is a big part of its appeal, Christensen said.

“I just have a huge sense of gratitude to Poudre High School and everything it’s done for me and wanting to continue that at the school,” she said. “The more I think about, the more I am really looking forward to this opportunity. I’m proud of the things we do here and definitely proud to be a part of this community and what we do.”

Christensen began working at Poudre High in 1999 as a certified athletic trainer serving Poudre High students, Poudre School District said in a news release announcing her hiring. The following year, she began teaching courses at the school in Spanish and physical education. She was still teaching as recently as 2018, three years after becoming an assistant principal. She also served as the school’s STEM-X coordinator for several years and became athletic director in 2018.

Christensen earned her bachelor’s degree in education in 1998 from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a master’s degree in education in 2015 from Colorado State University.

Reporter Kelly Lyell covers education, breaking news, some sports and other topics of interest for the Coloradoan. Contact him at kellylyell@coloradoan.com, x.com/KellyLyell and  facebook.com/KellyLyell.news

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Poudre High School’s new principal is a longtime staff member

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