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 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 Donna Priester at or (719) 590-1217.

JOI CLUBS (Junior Optimist International)

Optimist International’s Junior Optimist Octagon 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
    • Scott Elementary
    • Horizon Middle
    • Sand Creek High
    • Vista Ridge High
    • Kidz Partnering
    • ALLIES

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

JOI Student Projects

Here is our very own Scott Elementary JOI Club donating over 1000 items to the local Ronald McDonald House: Scott JOI Club & Ronald McDonald House

For more information, please contact the CO/WY District JOI Chair Donna Priester at or (719) 590-1217.


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 2021-2022 Topic is: “How Does an Optimistic Mindset Change My Tomorrow?”

When: Due January 2022
Who: Youth under the age of 18 as of October 1, 2021 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: 2018-2019 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 2022. 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. 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 2021-2022 Topic is: “Staying Optimistic in Challenging Times”

The Club Oratorical Contest will be held:
When: ?
Time: ?
Where: ?

For an application and contest rules please go to: 2018-2019 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 2021 – 22 Topic is: “Staying Optimistic in Challenging Times”. The contestants can make their presentation in sign language or orally to the judges and audience.

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: 2021-2022 CCDHH Application

For more information, please contact Tim Wolken 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:


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


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

The Santa Train

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


Nicole Powell Photography & The Academy Optimist Club hosted their 7th and last Critters for Cancer Fundraiser in 2018. Nicole Powell Photography gave 90% of the photo sessions & print purchases to the local families of the Children’s Hospital for Cancer & Blood Disorder Clinic to help cover everyday costs such as gas and groceries.

Over $6000 has been raised over the past 7 years for the local kids.

Even though Critters for Cancer is no longer around, the Academy Optimist Club is always looking for donations to give to the Children’s Hospital for Cancer & Blood Disorder Clinic.

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


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, email us at


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