Zahra Abdulameer, center, poses with South High School students in this Denver Post photo.
Read Post coverage of the event here.
Friday, Feb. 3, 2017

 What Our Refugee Students Teach Us   
"I have been a DPS student ever since we arrived here. I wanted to remain in a place where I can see a small spectrum of the world everywhere I turn."
-- Zahra, 17, South High School
Dear DPS Community,
Supt. Tom Boasberg
Earlier this week, Board of Education President Anne Rowe and I visited South High School, an extraordinary school with students from over 70 countries, many of whom are refugee students. We met with several of our refugee students along with their American-born and immigrant classmates, and they all stressed how much they valued the diversity of life experiences and perspectives of South's student body. 

For the students, a common theme was how South's refugee students make the school a stronger and richer place, where lessons both on history and current events come alive in the experiences of the student body. And, they celebrated how much they all learn from and support each other.

The talent and potential of our refugee students and their contributions to our schools and community are why we have joined so many other educational institutions in calling for the federal government to lift the recently imposed worldwide ban on refugee resettlement. The U.S. refugee ban, which covers resettlement of refugees from any country worldwide, is hurting our schools, our families and our communities.

One of the thoughtful, inspiring South High students we met with is Zahra Abdulameer, 17.  Here's a little bit of her story:

"I was born in Babylon, Iraq, and my parents were born in Baghdad. I came to the United States in 2009, after living in Iran and Turkey for a year each, in hope of finding refuge here. After the long-awaited approval, we came to America. The initial reason for our migration was actually forced. My dad was threatened by a terrorist group for working with Americans. Thus, my parents wanted to move to a place where our safety was secure, not to mention due to the educational opportunities my parents hoped America would have. When we came to Denver, we were welcomed with open arms.

"I have been a DPS student ever since we arrived here. I went to Place Bridge Academy for elementary and middle school. The diversity it held allowed me to feel less like a minority and more like I belonged there. That's the reason I chose to continue my educational journey at South High School. I heard a great deal about its rich diversity. I wanted to remain in a place where I can see a small spectrum of the world everywhere I turn, which is super
Watch this DPS Features video as South students discuss what it means to be a refugee.
Our American-born students we met with were equally emphatic in how much South's refugee students add to their educational experience. 

"These four years have been the most rewarding of my life. I've learned so much not just in the classroom, but from my peers," said senior Anna Renkert. "I've met some of the strongest people I know. I hear some of their stories and I know that I wouldn't have been able to do what they've done, and what their families have done and sacrificed for them." 

We are very lucky to have Zahra and her classmates in our schools and in our community. We are a community that is made stronger, that is made richer -- every single day -- by the contributions and experiences of the refugee families and refugee children we welcome in our schools.
We strongly hope that we will be again able to welcome talented refugee students from all over the globe into our schools very soon. 
DPS Named Top-Performing 'Outlier' District
On Wednesday, education advocacy group A+ Colorado released the first comprehensive report about the state of academic outcomes for different groups of students in school districts across Colorado, and DPS was recognized for making some of the biggest gains in the past four years in English language arts.

"The Outliers," the 2016 report on the state of Colorado school districts, recognizes school districts that positively change student achievement trends. The report also highlights the districts that best serve students of color, students with disabilities, English-language learners and low-income students.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg represented the district on a panel discussion about the report. "Investing in our teachers has been a critical part of this growth," said Boasberg. "We have committed more resources for our teachers to master their complex and important profession." 
The report also singled out a Denver charter school, DSST: Green Valley Ranch, as the only high school in the state where black students scored at least an average of 22 points on the ACT college entrance exam. Read the Chalkbeat Colorado article about interesting findings in "The Outliers."

For more information and to read the full report, visit
Celebrate African-American Parent Involvement on Feb. 16
February is Black History Month, an opportunity to recognize and remember the important African-American figures in our country's story. The DPS community is invited to honor Black history and African-American parent involvement through the National African-American Parent Involvement Celebration, held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 16 at the Boys & Girls Club at 4397 Crown Blvd., 80239.

Attendees can better understand how their student's school is performing, learn about job opportunities, receive a free dental screening, find support for paying Xcel energy bills and learn about resources in the community. Dinner and children's activities will be provided.

Learn more here and RSVP by calling 720-423-3054.
Seniors Commit to College on National Signing Day
Students at George Washington High School sign their letter of intent to play athletics in the college of their choice.
Wednesday was National Signing Day, when 29 seniors from four high schools across DPS signed their National Letter of Intent. This annual event, celebrated across the United States, is the first day high school student-athletes can solidify their commitment to play athletics at a college of their choosing.

Of the Class of 2017, 10 girls and 19 boys from 11 different sports committed to not only play college athletics, but also to continue their education after graduation. Students-athletes celebrated this milestone with their families and educators at special ceremonies held at their respective schools across Denver. See a list of these student-athletes here.

These celebrations by schools, students and families support the DPS Denver Plan 2020 goals of College and Career Readiness and the Supports for the Whole Child. To learn more, visit
Join the Conversation

Twitter   Facebook   Instagram   YouTube