“As we prepare to reflect on the things we are grateful for over Thanksgiving break, our students remind us to learn from our history and embrace our diversity to build a better future.”
Dear Team DPS,
As we break for Thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for — for the women and men who serve our country and for students who are building bridges to strengthen our community.
Each Veterans Day, our students and schools throughout DPS honor our service men and women, learning about their many contributions to our country and the importance of expressing gratitude for their sacrifices.
For the celebration at North High School, students in the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) presented a history on every American war since the Revolutionary War, and shared a summary of each — where it took place, our involvement in it and how many were killed, missing in action or wounded. They presented the colors and recognized the three North High School staff members who are veterans. Students whose family members have served in the military shared how proud they are of their loved ones.
“It’s important to recognize our veterans for their bravery and everything they’ve done for our country,” said JROTC Cadet Elena Awe, a junior at North. “One day is not enough to thank them all.”
This Veterans Day, more than 1,700 JROTC cadets representing 10 DPS high schools marched in our city’s Veterans Day Parade. The diversity of our JROTC students is a celebration of the action President Truman took nearly 70 years ago to integrate the U.S. Armed Forces, a pivotal step leading a few years later to the Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
Despite our progress, at times we allow our differences to define and divide us. In September, a football game between Manual High School and Weld Central High School left both sides hurting from painful assumptions and cultural stereotypes about both communities.
“That’s where I think a lot of frustration and pain came, from a feeling that the event impacted the community identity,” said Chris DeRemer, dean of culture at Manual High School. “The only way to really repair that relationship was to connect community to community.”
Manual and Weld Central students agreed, quickly working on a one-day student exchange. The two groups met at each other’s respective schools, using restorative practice to guide discussion about how the situation had hurt them and what to do to move forward.
One of the biggest surprises to students from both schools was how similar they felt to each other — something they would never have known had they not met face-to-face.
“We were pretty biased against them, and they were pretty biased against us,” said Trent Torres, a junior at Weld Central. “But now, we know exactly who they are, and they know who we really are. We as students, we came together.”
Manual senior and student body leader Ani Vazquez wrote about what she learned in The Denver Post: “Communities coming together is the most powerful and influential way to bridge the gap that separates us,” she said. “No matter how different two groups seem to be, the truth is always that we are stronger together.”
As we prepare to reflect on the things we are grateful for over Thanksgiving break, our students remind us to learn from our history and embrace our diversity to build a better future; to pay respect to those who paved the road of progress for us today; and to roll up our sleeves to pave it for those to come. We are thankful to our students and teachers for the examples they provide us every day of what we can accomplish when we approach one another with respect.
Pictured above: East High School senior Alexis Washut and her mother Jenney Rockman discuss the importance of honoring our veterans and Alexis’ hopes to be the fourth generation of her family to serve our country. Click here to watch this DPS Features video.
Want to get updates about the great things happening in DPS? Follow me on Twitter @SuptTomB.
This week we kicked off the annual Challenge 5280 event, connected 100 students with female political leaders at the first Girls In Politics Forum and celebrated Thanksgiving with the Denver Nuggets at Bradley International School! Learn more about this week’s events in 60 seconds!
Didn’t see last week’s DPS News Now video? Not to worry! DPS News Now videos are posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo every Friday. All DPS News Now videos are also available in Spanish as Lo último en DPS.
The holiday season is approaching and we’ve compiled a list of free holiday meals, gift and clothing giveaways, food assistance organizations and child care resources for our families and kids who may need them.
We know this is valuable information for our communities this time of year, so please share these holiday resources with friends and family to spread the word!
Do you know about an organization that provides one or more of these services that isn’t on the list? Email us at email@example.com with an attachment or a link to more information.
Nov. 20-24: DPS Schools are Closed for Thanksgiving Break
Nov. 27: BOE — Oath of Office, Swearing in New and Returning Board Members
Dec. 1: DPS Community Night with the Avalanche — Get Discounted Tickets Here