By: John McDermott
Growing up in Denver, I had always been familiar with North Denver’s rich history and of the various stories about North High School. Most of these were tales involving gangs and poor academics, with a consensus that the school was no good. I began to form a prejudice against the school itself, especially after two visits in which I met various students. At the time, I thought it was one of the worst schools in Denver. Now, after serving in this school, I think the exact opposite.
To understand the High School, one has to understand the history of North Denver first. The area is comprised of both the Highlands and Sunnyside neighborhoods. This area has a rich history of offering housing to immigrants who need work. In fact, it was first named the Highlands because of the large number of Scottish immigrants who moved here. For instance in an article titled Snapshot of Colorado it says, “Cheap housing has always been a feature of a neighborhood settled by Scottish and Irish immigrants, followed by Italian and Jewish immigrants. In the last decade, most immigrants have come from Mexico and smaller countries in Central America. Today, 85% of the students at North High are Hispanic”. As time has gone on, this area has found itself changing into a trendy neighborhood due to urban immigration. Young people are taking advantage of the cheap housing, and moving in.
In the midst of all this prosperity is North High School’s student population who are not always affected positively by the gentrification. The previous said article also says, “’Most of the new urban migrants are too young to have school age children.’ As a result the school population has dropped.” The students who attend North come from diverse walks of life and every one of them is fighting in a world that isn’t always fair.
The school administration has remedied this situation by hiring a new principal and reinventing the school culture. The new principal Nicole Veltze has worked hard to make the school a better place. In her own word she has said, “… 5 years ago, North was identified as a turnaround school with a struggling reputation with anemic academics, few extracurricular activities, a low graduation rate and high dropout rates. To be a Viking was not necessarily equated with college and career readiness.” In addition to great staff and teachers City Year has been involved heavily in this transition.
City Year is involved in its fourth year at this school, and has played a major role in its improvement. The relationships that we foster are beneficial to student motivation and the community at large due to the number of whole school events and classroom support we provide. Our team this year has continued the trend by working harder than ever to improve this great community.
Before I entered the front doors, I was nervous about the school. However, after working here I can attest to how it has, and is continuing, to become a top performing school in DPS. Over the past several years, North has continually scored higher and higher on assessments. I have no doubt that the school will continue to grow and impress those involved in Public Education. Additionally, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work in such a wonderful school and community.
- "Snapshot of Colorado." Snapshot of Colorado. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2015.
- "Meet Principal Veltzé." North High School. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2015.