Feb. 24, 2023
Howard Scholars from DMLK. Left to right: Arenn Bannks, Atalia Lee, Ceirra Noel, Angel, Amankwaah, Dahni Austin, Kaliah Yizar
Elevating Black Student Voices
Dear DPS Community,

Honoring Black Excellence, our Black students, staff and families is deeply important each and every day, and it is meaningful to share this update during this month of dedicated celebration. In today’s Our DPS Weekly, we want to honor our past, including recent student contributions that helped us arrive at this point. We also want to share updates about our commitments to expand and support avenues for our Black students to create and share their experiences, their voices, today and going forward.

Brief Snapshot of Our Know Justice Know Peace Resolution
In 2020, our Board of Education passed the Know Justice Know Peace Resolution (KJKP), which sought to “...ensure that all schools within the family of Denver Public Schools’ curriculum and professional practices include comprehensive historical and contemporary contributions of Black, Indigenous, and Latino Communities.” Our KJKP Resolution remains in place today and guides critical work such as our culturally responsive and sustaining curriculum review and revision process. When our Know Justice Know Peace Resolution was initially enacted by our Board, students attending Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College started a podcast, “Know Justice Know Peace: The Take,” which elevated the perspectives of the Black students involved and garnered local and national recognition. We honor these students for their contributions and creation of something special, which impacts not only their legacy, but can be carried forward by our students.

Expansion of Programming to Increase Student Participation
This school year, we have been developing programming to elevate the voices of our Black students across the DPS community. In January 2023, we launched our expanded programming at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College, Montbello High School and East High School with the support of many incredibly dedicated team members. Across these three campuses, we have 13 students either enrolled in a course that centers around a curriculum that has been developed by DPS educators, and/or students enrolled in an internship experience. Students are engaging in a full learning experience highlighting Black Excellence, understanding who they are and where they hold agency, and developing the skills to question systems and systematic oppression and collaboratively take action. They will be developing various skills like research, writing, production and communication through hands-on learning experiences.

Newlon Elementary's Black Student Affinity Group Partnering with Colorado Uplift
Colorado Uplift is partnering with Newlon Elementary’s fifth-graders to build long-term, life-changing relationships with high school students. Newlon Elementary is working hard to continue supporting Black students as part of DPS’s Black Excellence Plan. To accomplish this, Newlon Elementary began a K-5 Black Student Affinity Group with the support of Black Uplift Leaders and high school mentors. The affinity group will give students the opportunity to spend time with classmates that share a common social identity and life experiences.

Elevating our Black Student Voices
Six of our seniors were accepted to Howard University through the Early Action application process. Each student was awarded either the Howard University Achievers or the Howard University Founders Scholarship of $17,000-$19,000 per year! 

Each of these brilliant students has earned weighted grade point averages exceeding 4.150, and each has significant civic engagement. Kaliah Yizar, Dahni Austin, Angel Amankwaah, Atalia Lee, and Ceirra Noel have each taken their senior courses off-campus at the Community College of Aurora, and Angel earned her associates degree during the first semester of this year. Arenn Bannks will have earned an excess of 35 college credits when he graduates and has substantial offers to play football at the NCAA level. They all have full tuition offers to numerous colleges and universities and are actively working towards and seeking opportunities to earn full ride offers! 
Black Excellence - Atalia and Angel Student Spotlight
Atalia and Angel are seniors on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early (DMLK) College Debate Team and are making their mark. Last year, they qualified to represent the Denver Urban Debate League at Nationals (DUDL). They triumphed in DUDL's December competition. They contribute to both the League and their school's team by modeling intense effort, excellence, strategic thinking, ambition and sportsmanship.

“They not only thrive in argument, but they also excel in everything they do,” says their debate coach, Rachel Bruce.

In their free time, Atalia and Angel take part in a variety of extracurricular activities and attend college classes. Atalia has participated in the second season of DMLK's "The Take" podcast, which has been successful in promoting racial equity. Angel served as co-chair for Steps to Success Montbello Youth, which works to decrease youth violence. 

“Their involvement is way beyond what is required of them. But, even in their involvement in each of these activities, they have sought to involve others and that is what is really special about their black excellence,” says Hap Legg, College Readiness Coordinator at DMLK. 
Please join me in congratulating Kaliah, Dahni, Angel, Atalia, Cierra and Arenn! You are an inspiration to us all, and we can’t wait to see all that you accomplish at Howard University.

In collaboration,

Dr. Alex Marrero
UPK Colorado Application Window Closes Today
Round 1 of the Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado application closes at 5 p.m. today! Families who would like to make updates to their initial UPK Colorado application, and new families submitting an application for the first time, have until the end of the day today to submit an application for the 2023-24 school year.

After the Round 1 application window closes, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood will take the first round of applicants and begin the matching process. By March 30, families will receive an email from the state letting them know which provider they were matched with and the next steps for enrollment at their matched provider.

As a reminder, UPK Colorado is not a first-come, first-serve program. All applications submitted by Feb. 24 are part of Round 1 and will be matched together.

Have questions about the UPK Colorado application process? Call 303-866-5223 or email cdec_upkcolorado@state.co.us.
Student Voice and Leadership Holds Spring Roundtables
On Feb. 15, DPS Student Voice and Leadership (SVL) held their Spring Roundtables. Our Student Board of Education and Young African American and Latinx Leaders (YAALL) are a centerpiece of student voice and leadership for DPS. With the support of teachers and staff, SVL students identify issues within school communities and create policy proposals that are then presented to their peers, school leaders, central admins and community members.

SVL utilizes a nationally-recognized model of Critical Civic Inquiry in which student teams choose a social justice issue that impacts their lives, identify the root cause, conduct original research and propose policy solutions. Although the work is almost entirely student-driven, the success of this model relies heavily on meaningful youth-adult partnerships to facilitate dialogue and policy change. 

On April 14, at the Challenge 5280 SVL Summit, students will present their final policy arguments to DPS leadership, gather feedback from administrators, partner with mentors and lead peer-to-peer workshops. Final policy presentations are open to all DPS community members and will be livestreamed. Save the date!
Register for March 1 'Fill Your World with Good' Webinar
The Fill Your World With Good (FYWWG) campaign is hosting a webinar at noon on March 1. Support DPS youth by attending the event!

Jonathan Judge from Rise Above Colorado will discuss the FYWWG state-wide drug prevention campaign and highlight past successes, ways parents can empower their youth to participate and how to win a free mural for their school. Jenna Garrow will then share additional free resources for parents and community members, including the latest information about fentanyl prevention efforts for the state. Register here.
Special Education Affective Needs Corrective Action Plan (CAP) Advisory Committee
As part of the 2022 state complaint surrounding Special Education Affective Needs (AN) Center programs, the Exceptional Student Services (ESS) team is creating an AN Advisory Committee, which will kick off in April 2023. The purpose of the committee is to give the DPS community and staff an opportunity to provide input on the direction and actions that DPS central and school teams can take to address disparities. The committee will be made up of members from Denver Classroom Teachers Association, Denver School Leaders Association, DPS Office of Schools, community partners, Denver advocacy groups, DPS families and DPS students.  

The application window to apply is from March 1-16. Contact Dr. Charlie Merrow if you have any questions.
Marrero Moment with Principal Wayman White
In this week’s episode of Marrero Moment, Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero sits down with Principal of Contemporary Learning Academy (CLA), Wayman White. Principal White welcomes Dr. Marrero to CLA, where the DPS Studio is located. Check out their discussion on the work that goes on at CLA as the oldest pathway school in DPS here!
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