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Serving All Who Wish to Learn

Sep. 9, 2016

A Note from Superintendent Tom Boasberg

Dear DPS Community:

Exactly 100 years ago today, the doors of opportunity were opened for the first time for Denver residents who were trapped behind a lack of education. On Sept. 9, 1916, Emily Griffith opened her landmark Opportunity School at 12th and Welton with the motto of “All who wish to learn” chiseled over the door frame.

Our city’s greatest education pioneer had spent more than a decade teaching eighth grade and high school in Denver and had seen the stark schooling needs of her students, and the unmet needs of their parents and older family members. Her dedication to empower the powerless drove her to open those doors a century ago, and that spirit – and the needs of today’s students – still inspires and drives us today.

Today we celebrate not only the enduring legacy of Emily Griffith, but also the deepening impact her work has on our city, our families and our collective future.

Last week, the Denver Board of Education approved the final piece of our four-year Operation Unitefacilities project, which came in $8 million under budget and saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and is providing dramatically better learning environments for thousands of students. A key part of the plan was to sell off multiple district facilities to consolidate our school-support service teams in one building, the new Emily Griffith Campus, that we share with three schools: the new Downtown Denver Expeditionary School, Emily Griffith High School and Emily Griffith Technical College.

The roughly 5,000 students in Emily Griffith’s many trade, continuing education and specialty programs now are learning in state-of-the-art facilities that will better prepare them for their careers. And we owe a big thank-you to the Denver community for making that possible, by approving the 2012 school-construction bond that helped pay for the new Emily Griffith Campus.

In providing Emily Griffith students with a new school, we were faced with the decision on what to do with the original campus on Welton Street. Recognizing the site’s importance to the community and its historical significance, we put together a broad-based coalition of civic leaders to help DPS come up with the best overall plan – one that took into consideration all of the important components: historic preservation, current benefit to students and full value for taxpayers.

Thanks to that community expertise and collaboration, we now have an agreement in place to sell that campus that:

  • • Preserves and gives landmark status to the historic portions of the original Emily Griffith Campus.
  • • Completes the last piece of a plan that has updated and expanded campuses serving about 9,000 students.
  • • Brings in over $1 million a year of operational savings (on top of the capital savings), which is being reinvested in our classrooms.

The memory and the soul of Emily Griffith are alive and well in our community.

We are here to serve “All who wish to learn.” To build on Emily’s legacy of compassion and empowerment. And to keep the doors to a world of opportunity open wide and clear for all of Denver’s learners.


Read the full Our DPS Weekly newsletter online: Serving All Who Wish to Learn