Bringing Out the Best

Club Projects

The Academy Optimist Newsletter

Check out our monthly Newsletter and see what the Academy Optimist Club has been up to!

Academy Optimist Newsletter

If you would like to be added to our Monthly Newsletter list, please contact Ronda Riley at

Club Projects

B.U.G. (Bringing Up Grades)

The B.U.G. Program focuses on local elementary schools to encourage third graders to make significant improvement in bringing up their grades. Teachers identify the student in their class who improved his/her grades during the calendar month. The B.U.G. Chairperson prepares a certificate of recognition to be presented to the student in front of his/her peers. In addition to the certificate, the student receives a B.U.G. t-shirt. A May pizza party recognizes all winners for the year.

If you have any questions about the BUG program, please contact Liz Rand at


The Optimist International Junior Golf Championships provide a unique opportunity for junior golfers from around the globe. In more than 50 qualifying tournaments, Optimists reach out to their own communities to involve children in the game of golf. Each year 5,000 junior golfers, ages 10-18, participate in Optimist-sponsored events. The top 650 junior golfers from around the world advance to compete at the Championships at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. In 2010, we had two junior golfers from Colorado Springs qualify and compete in this event!

For more information, email us at


With Liberty Day, we work with 5th graders and their teachers to teach them about the United States Constitution. After 3 weeks of after-school training, we accompany these students to a college campus where they quiz college students and professors about the Constitution. You can imagine that the 5th graders often have the upper hand. They spread awareness about our Constitution and gain valuable exposure to college life. We currently conduct Liberty day at Colorado College and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. You can read more here.

If you have any more questions, please contact Donna Priester at or (719) 590-1217.


Optimist International’s Junior Optimist Octagon International (JOOI) clubs are the world’s most dynamic coalition of youth volunteers. JOOI members are students ranging from elementary school to high school and work to make their communities better – one service project at a time. With more than 18,500 members in more than 675 communities, JOOI members are constantly working to promote positive change in their communities at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

The Academy Optimist Club is currently sponsoring two elementary school JOOI clubs at Helen Keller (District 11) and Chinook Trail (District 20), a middle school JOOI club at Horizon (District 49) and a high school JOOI club at Sand Creek (District 49). Each JOOI club decides the service projects they want to accomplish for their school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or worldwide.

For more information, please contact: Carol Booth at or (719) 528-6069 or Donna Priester at or (719) 590-1217.


December is a special time for the Academy Optimist Club. Our members magically morph into characters from the North Pole and participate in the Pikes Peak Cog Railway’s annual “Santa Train”. The Santa Train runs every weekend in December prior to Christmas Day.

Santa, Mrs. Claus and their Elves are on each train with the children and their families. The Christmas Bard leads the group in Christmas songs for all to heartily join in. Christmas themed coloring pages and crayons are given to each child.

The Santa Train goes halfway up Pikes Peak to Four Mile Siding (not to the summit of Pikes Peak) where there is a 1 hour layover to let everyone off and give the children a chance to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Goodies are a must! Hot Chocolate and Christmas cookies are provided to all.

If you would like more information about helping, please contact Sharon Foster at

For more information about the Santa Train, please click here.

The Santa Train

The Santa Train

“Pikes Peak Santa Claus,” written, performed and recorded by members of the Academy Optimist Club in 2011. We’ve put the song to pictures for your enjoyment.



Keeping children safe in their recreational activities has been an important part of Optimist programs for many years. The Academy Optimist Youth Safety Program focuses on bike safety and fire safety.

This community event provides bike safety training for kids, including a bicycle safety inspection and a bike safety course where kids learn basic “rules of the road” for biking. The kids and their parents also learn how to properly fit themselves with the right bike helmet.

The kids participating in Safety Day also have an opportunity to meet local firefighters and get an up close and personal look at a fire truck. The firefighters also talk to the kids about basic fire safety.

For more information, please contact David Bogosian at


Optimists have become champions for those dealing with childhood cancer! Established by Optimist International in 2001, the mission of the campaign is to be “the leading force to rid the world of childhood cancer.”

Through a variety of activities within the program, Optimists are building awareness of the disease that kills more children than any other. In addition, Members provide support for children with cancer and their families, and support research to find a cure.

For more information, please contact Paul Nigro at


This popular scholarship contest presents young people with an opportunity to write about their opinions regarding the world in which they live. Optimist International selects a topic each year and the participants write a 700 to 800 word essay about that topic.

The 2016-17 Topic is: “Chasing Optimism in the Face of Challenges”

When: Due January 31, 2017
Who: Youth under the age of 18 as of October 1, 2016 located in the United States, Canada, or the Caribbean.
Why: The Essay Contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people the opportunity to write about their own opinions regarding the world in which they live. The approach can encompass a young person’s personal experience, the experience of their country or a more historical perspective. In additional to developing skills for written expression, participants also have the opportunity to win a college scholarship!

Competition begins at the Club level where medals are awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners ($100, $75, & $50 respectively). Then the first place winner will advance to the District contest to compete for a $2,500 college scholarship. The District-level scholarships are funded by the Optimist International Foundation.

For an application and contest rules please go to: 2016-2017 Optimist Essay Application & Rules

How To Enter: Students need to submit an essay on the pre-assigned topic and a completed Application. Completed packets can be mailed, emailed, or picked up at a local Colorado Springs school by January 31, 2017. Interested students must contact the Academy Optimist Club Essay Chair, Theresa Null, at, (719) 322-8465 or by her address below:

Theresa Null
2104 Eagle View Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80909


First conducted in 1928, this is the oldest ongoing Optimist International Program. The winners at the Club level receive medallions and Zone winners receive a plaque. In a combined gender contest, contestants who make it to the District finals have the opportunity to win a first place scholarship of $2,500, a second place scholarship of $1,500, or a third place scholarship of $1,000. The Academy Optimist Club holds their contest in February.

The Oratorical Contest is for young people under 19 years of age who have not yet graduated from high school or the equivalent and gives these youngsters the chance to speak to the world. Each applicant is required to give a 4- to 5-minute speech. Winners progress to the next level.

The 2016-2017 Topic is: “What the World Gains from Optimism”

The Club Oratorical Contest will be held Thursday, February 23rd at 6pm at the
Stetson Hills Police Division – Community Room, 4110 Tutt Blvd, Colorado Springs

For an application and contest rules please go to: 2016-2017 Optimist Essay Application & Rules

For more information, please contact Sharon Foster at


The Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) provides an opportunity for young people who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate in a public forum while developing valuable skills and confidence. The students write and present a speech on a topic selected annually by Optimist International. The contestants can present in sign or orally to the judges and audience.

The Optimist International Foundation annually funds a $2,500 scholarship for each Optimist International District. The Colorado/Wyoming District donates an additional $2,500 to the Foundations in order to provide a second scholarship.

The 2016-2017 Topic is: “What the World Gains from Optimism”

For an application and contest rules please go to: 2016-2017 Optimist CCDHH Application & Rules

For more information, please contact Al Shea at


The Optimist Brain Bowl is an academic competition open to public, private and home-schooled 6th, 7th and 8th grade students in Colorado and Wyoming. Tournaments draw nearly 200 teams and nearly 1000 6th, 7th and 8th grade participants. Students form teams and demonstrate their knowledge of a variety of subjects in a format loosely modeled after the GE College Bowl television program that ran from 1959-1970.

Registration per school is limited to 3 teams per grade level, nine teams total. Should the tournaments fill before the December 1 deadline teams will be accepted in the order in which paid registrations are received. Invitations are sent to all schools in the Colorado-Wyoming area.

For more information about the Optimist Brain Bowl, please go to:


Nicole Powell of Nicole Powell Photography, a professional photographer and a member of the Academy Optimist Club, takes professional photos of all sorts of pets for $25 and then donates 90% of the proceeds to local kids with cancer. And she also provides a free 8×10 as a thank you for their participation in this fundraiser.

Over $4500 has been raised over the past 5 years for the local kids.

For more information about Critters for Cancer, please contact Nicole Powell at
or go to:


Established by Optimist International in 2001, one of the missions of O.I. is to be “the leading force to rid the world of childhood cancer.” One of the ways of doing that is by supporting the American Cancer Society and their never-ending search for the cure. Relay For Life is a community based fundraising event of the American Cancer Society where more than 5,000 Relay For Life events take place across twenty countries in local communities.

The Academy Optimist Club has their own team, The Optimist Avengers. Every year our team, along with 20+ other teams, get together and walks the track at Liberty High School for 18 hours non-stop. There is food, games, music, live bands, fun and fundraising – all in the name of finding the cure. If you can’t stay the 18 hours then come for 18 minutes! Whatever we can do to Kick Cancer’s Butt!

For more questions or information about joining our team, please contact Nicole Powell at


Tri-Star Basketball is boys and girls between the age of 8 and 13. The competition began in February when the Academy Optimist Club of Colorado Springs sponsored a local School District 11 contest. Over 1500 kids competed against others in their own age and gender group (12 groups) in 3 skills: dribbling, shooting and passing. These students won a t-shirt and certificate.

25 February: Local Finals, Doherty High School at 1:30pm
11 March: Regional, Trinity Lutheran Church in Pueblo at 9 am
26 March: District Finals, Pepsi Center in Denver at 12pm
26 March: Nuggets vs. New Orleans Pelicans,Pepsi Center in Denver at 6pm

1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of each Local Contest were invited to a Regional Tournament to be held in Pueblo, Saturday, March 11, at 9am at the Trinity Lutheran School.

The Southern Regional 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners are invited to compete at the District Finals held before the Nuggets game on Sunday, March 26th, at North High School, 2960 Speer Blvd, Denver, CO 80211. Registration will start at 12pm. Competition will start 1pm.

1st place Winners will be announced to the crowd that night when the Nuggets play against the New Orleans Pelicans – 6pm, at the Pepsi Center. District 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners participate in the Fan Tunnel where they greet the Nuggets players as they enter the court.

For more information please contact Bob Null at


The Academy Optimist Club is the sponsor for the Pen Pal Program. Academy club members are the pen pals for students (3rd Graders) of the selected schools that would like to participate in this program. Teachers select students that are having problems with communication skills; writing, spelling and sentence structure. This program will give the students the help needed to improve on their penmanship, sentence structure, spelling and communication skills.

For more information please contact Carol Brown at