Sports Matters, Just Ask Kyle Freeland

Apr. 7, 2017
Kyle Freeland pitching for TJ high school
Kyle Freeland played for Thomas Jefferson High School before becoming the Rockies' starting pitcher on Opening Day 2017.

“Offering quality athletic programs to our kids has obvious benefits for their fitness and heath, and it’s also critical to our mission of supporting the whole child.”

Dear DPS Community,

Supt. Tom Boasberg

Supt. Tom Boasberg

When DPS grad and Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland takes the mound for his first major league start in today’s home opener at Coors Field, all of Denver will be cheering him on. A Thomas Jefferson Spartan, Kyle was scooped up in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Rockies. He has worked hard for the past three seasons in the minors to get to the big leagues and to get the ball on Opening Day. His first pitch at Coors Field this afternoon will be a joyous moment for DPS athletics and our entire community.

Sports can be such a big part of our students’ school experience. Offering quality athletic programs to our kids has obvious benefits for their fitness and heath, and it’s also critical to our mission of supporting the whole child.

In playing basketball and football in high school, I learned a lot about teamwork, leadership and dealing with adversity. It also was just a whole lot of fun, even if my dreams of getting to Kyle’s level were always a whole lot bigger than my chances ever were!

Just like for our students in the classroom, we want to offer the best to our student-athletes on the field. Kyle’s start today for the Rockies is just one sign of the progress we’re making.

This year alone, the George Washington boys’ basketball team brought back memories of the Chauncey Billups glory days and went on a thrilling streak that took them all the way to the state 5A finals. North High School running sensation Kayla Young capped an incredible career by winning the state cross-country championship. Marcus Lindsay of Denver South was selected 2016 Colorado 4A Football Player of the Year. And, among many other marks of progress for teams across DPS, our Far Northeast Warriors traveled to the Western Slope and won the first-round playoff in girls’ basketball.

As enriching as the athletic programs can be for our students, we also know there can be barriers that put the opportunities out of the reach of some, such as athletic fees and equipment costs.

Any time there are obstacles in the way of any opportunity for our students, we work hard to remove them. And we look for ways to partner with our community in that effort.

That’s exactly what happened with our Student Engagement Initiative. Thanks to the generosity of Abraham Lincoln High School alum Tim Marquez and his wife Bernadette, we received resources to help give all of our students a full opportunity to be student-athletes. With the mill levy dollars that buttressed the Marquez’ generosity, as well as Denver’s professional sports teams who support our middle school sports programs (Kyle, Kayla and Marcus all played middle school sports with us), we have been able to dramatically expand the number of students in our athletics programs and the quality of those programs.

In the six years since the SEI’s launch, we’ve seen participation in our sports programs increase by more than 25%.

When Kyle takes the mound this afternoon, he’ll be both a proud symbol of the tradition of DPS athletics and a big boost to its future as an inspiration to thousands of kids all across our community. And regardless of what the numbers look like in today’s box score, Kyle’s name being there shows our community is helping kids win in ways that make a difference — in their lives and in their future.



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Advice That Saved A Life: Raul’s Story

Four years ago, then eighth-grade student Raul Valenzuela was in a rough place in life — a place that, as he puts it, was guiding destiny toward a dark end. 

“I was hanging out with the wrong crowd. I was going down gang pathways, I was going down drug pathways,” Raul said. “It was really rough. I didn’t have nobody to speak to because I felt that, if I were to tell my parents, I would get in trouble. They never knew about it. I kept on pushing through, trying to get out.”

While Raul’s parents had an understanding of the trouble he was in, they didn’t know how to help him. The dean at Raul’s middle school, however, knew exactly the right words to say.

“He sat me down and he said, ‘I can say a lot of stuff, but if you don’t want to listen, you won’t listen,'” Raul said. Raul did listen to that dean’s words carefully, and heard something life-changing. “He pointed to me and said, if you keep taking the route you’re taking now, you’re going to end up in jail or dead. But if you decide to turn around and start putting effort into school, you have a high chance of being successful because you have a bright future.”

The man who gave that advice was Nick Dawkins, who is now the principal at Manual High School. In hearing that Nick was still working in DPS, Raul shared this message on camera:

“Thank you, thank you. I know you might not recognize me, but thank you for putting my feet on the ground.”

Watch Principal Dawkins’ reaction and hear the full story in this DPS Features video.

Strengthening Neighborhoods Initiative – Join this Important Work

In DPS, we are committed to operating and sustaining high-quality, socio-economically integrated schools in our communities. We believe that high-quality integrated schools not only offer the best educational outcomes for our children but also serve a vital function in promoting and sustaining vibrant neighborhoods. neighborhoods

But as Denver continues to grow and housing prices increase, our diverse neighborhoods are struggling to balance the challenges of gentrification with their rich cultural histories. Many parts of Denver are undergoing major shifts in demographics, which is resulting in significant changes in housing patterns and a major reduction in many neighborhoods of school-aged children.

To address these concerns, DPS has created the Strengthening Neighborhoods Initiative. We are establishing a committed group of partners to help us address racial and socio-economic diversity in our schools and issues of school consolidation in neighborhoods that are losing the highest number of school-aged children.

We invite you to join us in this important work! Click here to learn more and submit an application.

School Chickens Allow Lessons to Take Flight

Denver Montessori Junior/Senior High School (DMHS) has added another element to their daily coursework — and it involves chickens.

student with chickens

Marcello Montoya helps feed the chickens each day.

Throughout the school year, student “Chicken Managers” flock outside to tend to their avian duties, which include feeding the hens, gathering eggs and tidying the coop. This is the first time DMHS has incorporated their chickens into a schoolwide curriculum to help students learn about math, science, social studies and managerial skills.

Ninth-grader Eva Severance and eighth-grader Marcello Montoya are the school’s Chicken Managers in charge of the coop, and the pride they take in their responsibilities is evident.

“The first thing I think about when I wake up is how the chickens are doing,” said Marcello. “I love that we get to make sure they are fed and happy.”

“This program goes beyond just teaching the kids to care for animals,” said occupations teacher Creighton Hofeditz. “We studied physics as we built the coop and continue to incorporate the chickens into lessons about animal biology, the history of other cultures with chickens, the sanitation of water and the economics of budgeting for feed.”

School leaders say the eggs will likely be sold for school fundraising or integrated into the school’s culinary program in the future. For now, they are being donated within the community. The chickens are part of a larger urban farm educational program the school is hoping to expand, with a greenhouse growing fruits, vegetables and various perennials to be completed soon.


April 18 and 19: Equity Boot Camp: Healing a Broken System

April 27:  ED Talk: Black. A play and discussion about race in our community  

April 27: DPS Foundation’s 15th Annual Achieve Gala

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