“It is the story of America then, as told by America now. And many of our students earned the opportunity of a lifetime to share their own unique versions of this story on stage here in Denver.”
Dear DPS Community,
You may have heard of “Hamilton,” the record-setting Broadway musical about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. This week, hundreds of our students not only had the opportunity to see the musical, but some also got on stage and performed.
As a part of the Hamilton Education Program, students in 21 DPS schools earned their Hamilton tickets by studying American history for several weeks in their classrooms through a special integrated curriculum focused on Alexander Hamilton and the nation’s Founding Fathers. These students also met with members of the Hamilton cast for a Q&A session before Tuesday afternoon’s show.
Most excitingly, students from across the metro area competed to perform an original work they created based on their classroom studies. Students created original songs, rap verses, poetry, scenes and monologues for a chance to be on the Buell Theatre stage in front of thousands of their peers. Judges picked 10 DPS students for the chance to take the stage!
Congratulations to Esteban Gallegos and Madison Rust from Emily Griffith High School; Albert Ortega from High Tech Early College; John Le from Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy; Issak Lucero from STRIVE Prep – SMART; Josiah Blackbear from West Early College; and Zehydi Chaparro-Rojas, Jose Torres-Andazola, Rossy Martinez-Sanchez and Alexandra Andazola-Chavez from West Leadership Academy.
“It is my right to dream big and think free, in order to change my reality,” proclaimed Emily Griffith High School’s Esteban Gallegos as he moved the crowd during his spoken-word performance.
The four students from West Leadership Academy performed a scene from Hamilton in Spanish, earning a standing ovation from the audience.
“This is an experience we will treasure and take with us wherever we go,” said West Leadership Academy student Alexandra Andazola-Chavez. “I will remember that anything is possible if I put in enough effort.”
We know the benefits of an arts-rich educational environment, particularly in the development of critical- and creative-thinking skills. National research cites the arts as a tool to decrease the dropout rate, enhance student engagement and provide a safe environment for experimentation and risk-taking.
We also know that the arts strengthen self-confidence, build relationships and improve collaboration between students.
“This experience was life-changing,” said Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy student-performer John Le. “I am normally a shy person, and this opportunity let me see myself in a completely new light.”
Hamilton is a musical history lesson that many of us can relate to, telling the story of an immigrant who overcame life’s difficult circumstances. Performers tell this story using a blend of hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B and Broadway music styles.
It is the story of America then, as told by America now. And many of our students earned the opportunity of a lifetime to share their own unique versions of this story on stage here in Denver.
Pictured above: On Tuesday, students from 21 DPS schools earned tickets to see “Hamilton” and the opportunity to attend a Q&A session with cast members after the show.
This week, ninth-graders from all over DPS visited the Auraria Campus to explore future college and career pathways at the Eighth Annual Ninth Grade College Expo. Learn more about this week’s event 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 students, who are all active members of YAALL (Young African American and Latinx Leaders) or the Student Board of Education (SBOE), visited the state capitol to open a dialogue with policymakers about school safety and possible paths toward gun violence prevention.
The students, accompanied by Superintendent Tom Boasberg, DPS’ Chief Financial OfficerMark Ferrandino and the former Colorado Speaker of the House and Board of Education member Lisa Flores, visited with lobbyists from Everytown USA — the national movement to end gun violence — as well as several state representatives throughout the day.
Students asked what they could do to help get legislation passed and how they can improve mental health services in schools so all students have someone they can talk to about issues affecting them. Representatives shared their views on gun-violence prevention, what bills are currently being discussed and how much of an impact students can and have had on the gun-violence prevention conversation.
“This is a long-term movement,” said Rep. Paul Rosenthal, a former teacher. “It’s very important to stay in contact with us. Don’t be discouraged. Stick with it and stick with us.”
Read more about the discussion here.
While improvements were made throughout the building, the highlight is the library, which was transformed into a bright and adaptable learning environment for students. Community members toured the new library, checked out a gallery of student projects and talked with school team members about the latest updates to their classrooms and building.
The 2016 bond provides DPS with $572 million to improve our facilities, including critical maintenance updates, new capacity projects, quality learning environments and technology and safety needs. Learn more at bond.dpsk12.org.
March 26-30: Spring Break — DPS schools closed
March and April: Discounted Nuggets, Mammoth, Rapids and DCPA tickets
April 18: DPS Foundation 16th Annual Achieve Gala
April 27: 34th Annual DPS Shakespeare Festival