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Our DPS Weekly: DPS Students Develop Ideas to Positively Change Their School Communities

May. 20, 2019

“Seeing dozens of bright, motivated students working together to create positive change in the world filled me with hope that a more equitable future truly is possible.”

Dear DPS Community,

How do we that ensure every child thrives in our city? I’ve asked this question as I’ve visited with teachers, leaders, students and community members over the past several weeks. Your ideas have challenged and motivated me as we address this critical question. Public education is a complex undertaking and at the core, it is a social justice endeavor. Striving for equity is the ongoing work of every educator and leader in our district and it isn’t simple or easy, but it is the most important work we can do to create a better future for our kids.

That’s why it was so inspiring for me to attend Challenge 5280 on Tuesday, where teams of Student Board of Education (SBOE) members from high schools across the district presented policy solutions to the social justice issues that affect their school communities. Seeing dozens of motivated students working together to create positive change in the world filled me with hope that a more equitable future truly is possible.

Challenge 5280 is an annual DPS initiative for student groups to engage with community members, organizations and companies to identify problems in their community, brainstorm the root causes, strategies and solutions to these social justice issues. This year’s teams focused on a range of issues, from incorporating student voice in hiring, to culturally-responsive training, equitable disciplinary practices and eliminating implicit biases.

This year, students from Abraham Lincoln High School won the Students’ Choice Award with their policy solution for increasing cultural awareness in the classroom. Their team identified a disconnected relationship between their 97% non-white student body and their 62% white teaching staff, and proposed partnering with their school leadership and with district leaders to implement bias training for all teachers and staff at Lincoln. They also recommended launching a student-led committee to work with the school’s personnel committee and implementing student-created, culturally aware activities in classes.

On Wednesday, I met with Gina Tamayo and other students from the Lincoln team, who are eager to turn their proposals into real results. “We talked about raising cultural awareness at Lincoln and at other schools in DPS, and discussed how we can collaborate with one another to implement this work,” Gina said.

The full list of winners includes:

  • First Place: Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy — Culturally Responsive Training
  • Second Place: Thomas Jefferson — Sexual Wellness Policy
  • Third Place: KIPP Denver Collegiate — Student Teacher Hiring Committee
  • Best Exhibit: DSST Green Valley Ranch – Es Tiempo — Civic Engagement

I want to congratulate each and every student who participated in this year’s challenge. Facing tough issues head-on takes courage, tenacity and relentless optimism — that belief that anything is possible with enough hard work and collaboration. I’m inspired by their proposed solutions, and I look forward to partnering with student leaders to help make our schools better places for all of us to learn and grow.

Warm Regards,


Pictured above: Students from Abraham Lincoln High School won the Student Choice Award at Challenge 5280 with their policy solution for increasing cultural awareness in the classroom. Watch the video to learn more.


DPS Educators Honored at Milestone Years of Service Ceremony

On Monday night, the Denver Board of Education hosted a recognition ceremony for team members who are celebrating milestone anniversaries with DPS this year. More than 70 honorees attended the ceremony to be recognized for giving 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 years of service to Team DPS and our kids.

“This is the fifth year of our Milestone years-of-service recognition program and we wanted to personally thank you for your commitment to our kids,” said Superintendent Susana Cordova, who honored DPS’ longest serving team members alongside the Board of Education members.

Thank you to all of our educators for your outstanding commitment to our kids! You are truly helping reach our vision, Every Child Succeeds.

Students Visit with Women in the Community during the African-American Young Ladies Summit

DPS students learning from female leaders in the community during the second annual African-American Young Ladies Summit.

DPS hosted our second annual African-American Young Ladies Summit (AAYLS) this week, which gave students the opportunity to hear from African-American women from across Denver about the successes they’ve experienced in their careers and challenges they’ve faced. In addition, colleges were present to answer questions around admissions, scholarships and majors.

“This event is a culmination of all that we have accomplished in a very challenging year. We are bringing African-American women from around the Denver metro area to sit with, share and support our African-American young ladies. It is exciting to share a space with so much love and support,” said Dr. Plashan McCune, DPS Senior Advisor for Trauma-Informed Practices and Engagement for Underserved Population, and the founder of AAYLS.

“You can come talk to me about anything. I’m not here to judge you; I’m here to listen,” said community member and business owner Pat Duncan to the students.

DPS CareerConnect Honors Education, Government and Industry Partners at Celebration of Impact Breakfast

Community partners from Microsoft received an award for their exceptional partnership.

This year, DPS CareerConnect students explored career options in a myriad of ways: collaborating with an outdoor company to co-design a climbing park for local residents, producing and editing original audio tracks, designing a 3-D model of Colorado through CAD design, interning in hospital emergency departments, designing video games and much more.

Today, DPS CareerConnect recognized community partners for supporting the district in the development of Denver’s talent pipeline while creating a national model for economic and academic mobility. Partners have provided invaluable experiences to students through work-based learning opportunities, skills-based curriculum support and program sponsorship over the past year — leading to transformational outcomes for Denver youth.

“Promoting innovation in career education through our New Skills for Youth investment in Denver Public Schools enables youth to both contribute to and share in the rewards of a growing economy,” said Chris Jensen, Region Manager for the Commercial Bank for JPMorgan Chase. “Programs like CareerConnect help more young people in Denver build the skills they need to prepare for in-demand jobs while still in high school.”

Upcoming Events

May 27: Memorial Day — DPS schools and offices closed

May 29: Special Board of Education Meeting

May 31: Last day of school for most DPS schools

June 15-16: Join DPS at Denver PrideFest

DISCOUNTS: Get tickets to Wicked, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and more!