KIPPsters at the Capitol

Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On Thursday, a group of KIPPsters from KIPP Denver Collegiate High School and KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy attended the 2017 Colorado League of Charter School Advocacy Day. Students spent the morning learning about how bills become law in Colorado, and how they can make their voices heard on issues that are important to them. 

While at the Capitol, KIPPsters spent time on the floor of the State Senate, where they heard arguments about bills that dealt with taxes, healthcare, and privacy rights. Senator Angela Williams spoke to the students about what the Senate was working on that day, and about her support for charter public schools. Senator Owen Hill also joined the group to talk about the business of the day. 

After a tour of the Capitol, KIPPsters heard from the people who work in the Office of Legislative Legal Services about their role in drafting legislation. Observing the State House of Representatives and chatting with State Representative James Coleman rounded out the morning before KIPPsters headed back to school. 

Throughout, KIPPsters discussed the importance of Senate Bill 61—a measure that would ensure equal funding for charter public schools along with all public school choices. That measure had recently passed the Senate, and was waiting for a committee assignment in the House. 

For more photos of KIPPsters at the Capitol, click here



Tags: KIPP Denver Collegiate High School , KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy

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Grit, zest, and a little love: KIPPsters learn to grow their own food

Posted Friday, April 07, 2017


For most high school students, springtime means warmer weather and the anticipation of summer vacation. 

But for students in Mr. Finch’s Outdoor Leadership class at KIPP Denver Collegiate High School, springtime means getting into the dirt and planting seeds that will turn into summertime vegetables. 

On Friday, KIPPsters took to the KDCHS garden armed with radish, spinach, lettuce, and pea seeds. Although the ground was blanketed in snow just three days earlier, students said they felt confident the time was right to plant the seeds.

“We’re not too worried because we made sure these plants are hearty and can survive some cold weather,” said Karla, a junior at KDCHS. “I’m excited to cook them, but I’m most excited about seeing them go from a seed to a whole plant.”

Emelyn, also a junior at KDCHS, said the garden project has impacted her in two ways. 

“This has made me think about how I could grow food and turn that into a business. But I also like to cook and am now thinking about how I can use these ingredients over the summer to help me be at my best for next basketball season.”

The garden is part of KIPP Colorado’s health and wellness initiative to improve the health and wellness of students, families, and the community. 

Mr. Finch believes the garden offers multiple benefits for the students.

“My students have been really interested in learning more about eating healthy and learning to cook using healthy ingredients,” said Mr. Finch. “They’re excited about the garden project and the sense of accomplishment from growing their own food.”

Other schools in the KIPP Colorado region are offering their own health and wellness activities and resources, including a cooking class for middle school students, a no-cost grocery program in Far Northeast Denver, and Zumba classes for parents. 

Andrea Rougé is the Director of Health and Wellness at KIPP Colorado Schools. She says programs like this are important for not just the physical health benefits from eating healthy food, but also for the mental health benefits from spending time outside nurturing a living plant.

“The vegetables that students grow themselves not only taste better, but they also get students excited about cooking and eating healthy foods and give the students a sense of pride and accomplishment.”

The vegetables are set to be ready for harvest before the end of the school year. Students from Mr. Finch’s class will be able to take home the bounty and use the vegetables however they choose. Many of the students said they were planning to find recipes that they cook using their fresh produce. 

For now, Mr. Finch’s class is just hoping there isn’t any more snow in the forecast. 

Tags: KIPP Denver Collegiate High School

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Parent Voice: All Colorado Kids Deserve Access to a Great Education

Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2017

KIPP Colorado parent, Martha Gonzalez, shares her journey--and challenges--finding the right school for her son, and how Senate Bill 61 would help families like hers across the state. 

Thousands of parents around Colorado, like me, choose to send their child to a charter public school. For too long, we’ve had to wonder why the state believes our children deserve less than those who attend traditional public schools.

Senate Bill 61, currently moving through the Colorado General Assembly, gives us hope that all of Colorado’s public school students will have access to the resources they need to grow and succeed. 

I am the mother of Luis, a 15 year-old 9th grader at KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy. My family lives in Thornton, but I drive hours each day to and from Far Northeast Denver so Luis can attend the school that’s right for him.

Luis is a student with special learning needs, and for eight years, Luis attended a traditional public school in our neighborhood. He would come home from school bored, and I could see he was not making progress on reading or writing. He was put in classes that didn’t challenge him or meet his individual needs.

I was frustrated, and I knew we had to make a change for Luis. I searched for schools close to me, but none offered the special attention that he needed to succeed. 

Then I found KIPP Colorado Schools, a network of charter public schools in Denver, and I knew I found the right school for my son.  KIPP worked with Luis to find an academic plan and extracurricular activities that were right for him. He now spends more time in class, and has made big achievements—despite being almost five grade levels behind when he entered KIPP.

The environment and culture at KIPP has allowed Luis to feel just like his other friends when it comes to being a kid and learning social skills. He really loves school now.

I am so proud of my son, and so grateful he is in a school that meets his needs. My son’s journey is similar to the journey so many families make in choosing the right school for their children. Once parents have made that choice for their kids, whether it’s a traditional public school or charter public school, they should have equitable access to district funds.

Senate Bill 61 is an important step toward making sure all Colorado students have access to the education that’s right for them. I urge Colorado lawmakers to support parents’ public school choice and vote “yes” on Senate Bill 61.


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Colorado Rapids Soccer Stars Visit KIPP Denver Collegiate High School

Posted Friday, October 07, 2016

Colorado Rapids soccer players joined the KIPP Denver Collegiate High School boys soccer team for a recent practice
Colorado Rapids soccer players joined the KIPP Denver Collegiate High School boys soccer team for a recent practice

Two members of the Colorado Rapids joined the KIPP Denver Collegiate boys soccer team at a recent practice on a perfect fall afternoon. Midfielder Michael Azira and defender Dennis Castillo observed practice and spoke for an hour with the team about the qualities that have propelled them to success on and off the soccer pitch.

Azira, who grew up in Uganda, extolled the importance of setting goals—both big and small—and working every day toward those goals. He also emphasized the importance of character strengths like leadership and grit, sharing that a good leader is someone who is dependable, communicative, and willing to sacrifice for the team.

“Out on the field—this is your family,” he said. “Fight for each other. Never be afraid to fail, but learn from each other when you do. When you make yourself better, you make your team better. Effort has no bad day.”

Castillo, a native of Costa Rica, noted that he grew up in a community not unlike that of Southwest Denver. He spoke about his experience working toward a college scholarship, and the importance of finding and utilizing the many resources that exist to make that possible.

“Some people will always have more than you, and some people will always have less than you,” he told the team. “Take advantage of everything you have here at school and put the work in. There’s really no big secret other than that to reaching your goals.”

For the past two years, the KDCHS boys soccer team has consistently ranked among the top teams in the state. Currently, they are the second ranked 3A team in Colorado. They are on track to win the conference and host the first and second round of the playoffs, pending approval from CHSAA.

Check out highlights from a recent victory over Jefferson High School on 9News.

Tags: KIPP , KIPP Denver Collegiate High School , leadership

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KIPP Colorado Students Honor Terence Crutcher, Call for End to Violence

Posted Monday, September 26, 2016

KIPP Denver Collegiate High School students gather to light candles and join in a moment of silence for KIPP Tulsa parent, Terence Crutcher.
KIPP Denver Collegiate High School students gather to light candles and join in a moment of silence for KIPP Tulsa parent, Terence Crutcher.
On Friday, KIPP Colorado students, teachers, leaders, and community members took time to reflect on the killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed African-American man who was fatally shot by a Tulsa police officer one week prior. Mr. Crutcher was the father of a KIPP Tulsa student. He was a beloved father and brother, a member of his church choir, and a college student.  He was the 193rd African-American to be killed by the police in the United States this year. 
Each school chose to reflect on Mr. Crutcher’s senseless death in its own way. KIPP Denver Collegiate High School held a candle-lighting ceremony with a moment of silence on Friday morning. During the solemn ceremony, students, teachers, and members of the community gathered outside to light candles and stand in solidarity with their KIPP Tulsa Team and Family. 
School Leader Anna Mendez-Hickman spoke to those gathered. 
“We are hurting,” she said. “We mourn with our cousins at KIPP Tulsa and everyone affected by racism and violence in the country. But you are the hope to change this world. Never forget that.”
Asked what the candle lighting ceremony meant to him, student Jose said, “We’re all in it together. We’ve all witnessed this; we’ve all seen what’s going on, and it could happen here in our community. The fact that we’re all gathered here together just shows me that we’re all together, and we’ve all got each others’ backs—even though we’re far away from Tulsa.”
Later in the afternoon, KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy lowered the American flag to half-mast, and held a moment of silence. 
KSPA students said that it “was good to come together and talk about these things,” though the recent news was “upsetting because there’s still racism after all these years.”
Other KIPP Colorado schools chose to incorporate opportunities to discuss and reflect on the tragedy in their classrooms, advisory groups, and assemblies. KIPP schools across the country joined in similar actions on Friday in solidarity with the KIPP Tulsa community. 
In an email to the KIPP Colorado staff, KIPP Colorado Schools Executive Director, Kimberlee Sia, committed to action, writing, “At KIPP Colorado, we will NOT be a bystander and will NOT remain silent. We stand in solidarity with our fellow KIPPsters across the country in a call for justice.”
KIPP Foundation CEO, Richard Barth, wrote a letter to the entire KIPP community, in which he urged systemic change to stop the violence against people of color by those in positions of power. You can read his full letter here


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