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

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 Carol Brown 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.

Check out this year’s photos: Liberty Day 2019

If you have any more questions, please contact Nicole Powell at or (719) 313-9497.

JOI CLUBS (Junior Optimist International)

Optimist International’s Junior Optimist International (JOI) clubs are the world’s most dynamic coalition of youth volunteers. JOI 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, JOI 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 the following JOI Clubs:

    • Chinook Trail Elementary
    • Helen Keller Elementary
    • Horizon Middle
    • Sand Creek High
    • Vista Ridge High
    • Kidz Partnering

Each JOI club decides the service projects they want to accomplish for their school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or worldwide.

JOI Student Projects
Above: Horizon Middle School JOI Club’s Fostering Hope Christmas Party
Middle: Horizon Middle School JOI Club’s “Bundles of Love” project
Below: Sand Creek JOI Club’s blankets for kids with cancer

For more information, please contact the CO/WY District JOI Co-Chair Nicole Powell at or (719) 313-9497.


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 2023-2024 Topic is: “Optimism: How it Connects Us?”

Due: February 2024
Who: Youth under the age of 18 as of October 1, 2023 located in the US, 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: 2023-2024 Optimist Essay Application & Rules

How To Enter: For the 2023-2024 Contest year, 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 February 2024. Interested students must contact the Donna Priester at or by the address below:

Academy Optimist Club
Attn: Donna Priester
2692 Marston Heights
Colorado Springs, CO 80920


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. Winners of the District competition qualify for the World Championships which start with Regional contests. Regional winners received $5000 and qualified for the Championship round. First place receives $15,000, second place receives $10,000, and third place receives $5000.

The Academy Optimist Club holds their contest in February 2024.

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 2023-2024 Topic is: “How to Change the World with Optimism”

For an application and contest rules please go to: 2023-2024 Optimist Oratorical Application & Rules

For more information, please contact Donna Priester 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 students write and present a speech on a topic selected annually by Optimist International. The contestants can make their presentation in sign language or orally to the judges and audience.

The 2023-2024 Topic is: “How to Change the World with Optimism”

The Optimist International Foundation and the Colorado / Wyoming District annually fund two, $2,500 scholarships for district contest winners.

Application and contest rules are available at: 2023-2024 CCDHH Application & Rules

For more information, please contact the Club at


The Optimist Brain Bowl is an academic competition open to public, private and homeschooled 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:


Optimists have become champions for those dealing with childhood illnesses. The Childhood Health & Wellness Program was built on the highly successful Childhood Cancer Campaign to expand our impact. We will now have the opportunity to initiate projects and services to improve the quality of life for children in their communities across a broader spectrum of needs.

Childhood Health & Wellness include four focus areas (not limited to the examples below):

  • Healthy Lifestyles (Child Obesity, Healthy Eating, Physical Fitness, Happy Heart Advice, March of Dimes)
  • Chronic Diseases (Childhood Cancer, Juvenile Diabetes, HIV, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Sickle Cell Anemia)
  • Mental Health (Depression, Bullying, Abuse)
  • Disabilities – Physical, Intellectual & Developmental (Autism, Special Olympics)

The Academy Optimist Club is no stranger to helping donate to local childhood health & wellness needs. Every meeting Optimists Members donate to our local Children’s Hospital for Cancer & Blood Disorder Clinic & Ronald McDonald House via our Bloom Bucket. To date, over $6500 has been raised!

Over $6000 has been raised in the past by Nicole Powell Photography & The Academy Optimist Club through the Critters for Cancer project.

For more information about our Childhood Health & Wellness program, please contact Paul Nigro 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


If your family, business or organization is in need of Santa and his elves, look no further! We have an AMAZING Santa that you & your kids will never forget. Check out our videos of Santa and his Elves in action…

The Santa Train

For a longer video of what we did on the Santa Train at the Cog Railway, please go here:

If you would like to find out more information about hiring Santa & his helpers for your Christmas event, please visit our Fundraising page here:

or please contact Joe Priester at


Tri-Star Basketball is boys and girls between the age of 8 and 13. The competition usually begins in February with a local 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.

1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners of each Local Contest were invited to a Regional Tournament to be held in Pueblo.

The Southern Regional 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners are invited to compete at the District Finals held before a Denver Nuggets game in Denver.

1st place Winners will be announced to the crowd at the Denver Nuggets game. 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 the Club 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.

For more information, you can go to or
email the District Junior Golf Chair, Bob Meyer, at