Our DPS Weekly: Congratulating Our Graduates, Class Like No Other

May. 26, 2020
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Important Update About "Return to School" Workgroup »

“Please join me in congratulating the Denver Public Schools’ Class of 2020 — a tough and tested graduating class like no other.”

Dear Team DPS,

This is always the brightest and most joyful time of year for educators. We see students who came to us as young children –with shining faces, squeaky new shoes, and bursting backpacks — and now, they are ready to go forward in their lives as young adults — standing taller; with a bit more swagger, less squeak; and shining just as brilliantly with promise, potential … and big dreams.

There’s no greater feeling than helping to put students on their own path to a limitless future, lifting their sights to the opportunities and possibilities that education brings.

We know that, right now, our students and our families are focused on pressing needs — staying healthy, providing for their families, working on staying connected to loved ones. We all know this has been a semester like no other, that has challenged us all in so many ways; we’re getting through it, together. And it’s making us stronger.

Our seniors have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of the challenges, opportunities and disappointments that this unprecedented spring has brought. As I read through the graduation speeches written by members of the Class of 2020, I am moved and inspired by the hope, the eloquence, and the spirit of our graduates. And it’s such a pleasure for me to share some of their wisdom and leadership with all of you:

Barrie Barto, South High School: “The world seems a little less scary with all of us standing together: the friendships we have made, the innocence we might have lost, and the little moments that have taught us more about ourselves than any classroom ever could.”

Edith Moreno, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy: “Class of 2020, this is not how we expected or wanted our senior year to end. These occurrences of events are a prime example that life can change within a short amount of time. So, enjoy every moment of your life. This is not the end of our story, but an end to an important chapter of our lives. We begin a new chapter the moment we all move our tassels to the left. We are the ones to choose and walk our own paths.”

Marina Banuelos-Villagrana, Abraham Lincoln High School: “I also want to appreciate our greatest supporters. Our parents. Gracias a todos nuestros padres, que han sido nuestro mayor apoyo. Gracias a ustedes y a sus sacrificios, hoy estamos graduándonos. Gracias por siempre estar ahí para nosotros y decirnos ‘sí se puede, mijo’. Sin ustedes, ninguno de nosotros estaría aquí.”

Isla Anderson, North High School: “I will never forget our legendary spirit days that brought laughs to all our classes, surprise fireworks after winning the homecoming game, freezing soccer games when we huddled together under blankets, people falling all over the place after getting too excited during the senior run or the confetti that showered over our heads at the winter pep rally. Even though senior year ended much sooner than we expected, we created memories that we will cherish forever.”

Dylan Greher, Northfield High School: “When it comes to facing adversity, there will always be factors outside of our control, but what we can control is what we stand for, what we fight for, and how we respond. And sometimes that means leaving our comfort zone.”

Sonoma Carlos, George Washington High School: “Perhaps the Class of 2020, by definition, will be known as the Class of COVID-19 — but each one of us has far richer experiences than what this label suggests.”

In addition to sharing these words of wisdom, these Class of 2020 leaders acknowledged the togetherness, the community — family, teachers, counselors, coaches, and other caring adults — who have been there for them … through each new grade, new classroom, new teacher, new challenge … with a big, beaming smile for the successes and a warm hug and comforting shoulder for the setbacks.

Please join me in congratulating the Denver Public Schools’ Class of 2020 — a tough and tested graduating class like no other. Together, we’ll help them through the challenges ahead in the immediate horizon. And from there, they’ll have a glorious and shimmering horizon ahead of them.

Warm regards,

Update on DPS Educators’ Workgroup on Return-to-School Plan

As our principals and teachers continue to discuss and develop plans for next school year, we want to make sure we’re getting clear feedback and guidance from our families and community to help create a plan that prioritizes safety and is responsive to your needs. To help in that effort, we’ve extended the deadline for our students and families to respond to our “Return to School” survey. If you haven’t already shared your feedback, please complete the survey by the morning of Tuesday, May 26. It only takes a few minutes to complete, and it provides valuable information that will make our plans stronger.

Next week, we will have more detailed information to share with you. That will include more specifics on the health standards — for both overall physical health and social-emotional development — that we’re following, based on our continuing conversations with the city’s health experts, as the foundation of our return-to-school plan. We want to give as clear of a picture as we can, using the best, most updated health information, of what school will look like — in terms of numbers of students in classrooms and health precautions that will be in place.

Also next week, principals and teachers will be having detailed discussions about the specifics of the plans that have been discussed over the past several weeks. Those will include conversations about which students should be prioritized for additional in-person instruction and support, and what modified schedules work best for families and schools and are in alignment with the established health standards.

Then, in next week’s Our DPS Weekly, we plan to share a more complete update on the recommendations of our Return to School workgroup — details of the plan that our principals and teachers have developed to reopen schools with an expected mix of in-person and remote learning.

Once we share those details, we will ask for your feedback again. We plan to send a second “Return to School” survey to our entire community (families and staff) in early June, asking how the proposed plan fits your needs — for ensuring safety and providing strong instruction and support.

The best plan we can put together for reopening schools is one that prioritizes health and wellness and is responsive to the needs of our students and families. We are so appreciative of the understanding and cooperation of our community as we’ve worked through the changing conditions and tough challenges we’ve faced over the past several months. And we want to continue to be responsive to the needs of our community — to show the care and comfort that will help us get through this difficult time, together.

Warm regards,