Two Shining Stars in the Denver Public School System. Let Us Rejoice!

You have heard me rightfully complaining of the poor management of our Denver Public School Board and the way the school board and administration have been mismanaging the system. Well I think the goddess Athena herself, complete with her omnipresent all-knowing owl, may have landed in two places in the system. Those two shining lights are North High School and Denver Centers for International Studies.

For years, the school board treated old Northside High school like an unwanted child. Every year for 5 years the district assigned a new principal to the beleaguered school. Attendance dropped and so did morale among faculty, staff, and students. But good things are happening at North, much to the delight of neighborhood students, parents, and the school district.

North teachers now host classes in Mandarin, Lakota, and Spanish, with Arabic likely coming next year. Reports note that French is holding on by a thread but is still triumphant. Principal and faculty and staff report less turnover and parents seem pleased at the improvements.  There is an abundance of students and even a waiting list. The proof is in the matzoh ball soup as the old Irish slogan says. 

Of special interest is the $1.4 million set up by the North High Alumni Association which enables the association to award over $70,000 in scholarships to North High graduates yearly. And  North just had its first student accepted to Harvard recently. No other high school in the system has such a munificent scholarship fund, not even the East Side Angels.

The Denver Center for International Studies, part of the public school system, is the other beacon of light which offers hope for the future. The school and travel programs help create citizens of the world.

The DCIS Foundation, the remarkable brain child of Melanie Grant, native Denverite and educator, set up the DCIS foundation in 1997 to help students take trips to foreign countries. I’m proud to serve on the board. Since then, thanks to Melanie’s foresight, the foundation has awarded $500,000 in scholarships to over 5200 students.  Students have visited over 45 countries, studied 7 languages capping off their studies in world affairs and cultures. These travel projects afford students the ability to round off their academic careers with travel experiences. These students appreciate and learn to respect other cultures, forging on the smithy of their souls the consciousness of citizens for a world with an uncertain future. 

And you can help with these students by attending the DCIS Spring Gala, Saturday April 24th.  Tickets for dinner delivered to your home are $130.00 or $25.00 virtual attendance at Colorado History Center, 12th and Broadway. Tickets include a chance at the Grand Giveaway Prize. Linda and Jimmy Yip of the Nathan Yip Foundation are this year’s awardees.  There are over 50 auction items on which to bid to help the traveling students.

I donated a USA made cotton blanket of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, 2 bottles of Irish whiskey, a model Yankee Clipper ship for your fireplace, and honey jars from Durango, Colorado.  A trip to Ireland is included in the auction items. Bid on the Lakota pottery cookie jar from South Dakota. 

You can find out about the DCIS Spring Gala by consulting Like Rick Steves on Channel 6, help save the world one trip at a time.  

And you can donate to the North High Alumni Fund, c/o Joe De Rose, Alumni Center, North High school, 2960 Speer Blvd. Denver 80211.  All tax deductible.  Tell your friends and neighbors. And you can join the North Alumni association only $10.00 a year. They let me join and I went to Holy Family High which used to be at West 43rd and Utica Street, where Arrupe High is now. Another great school, but another story for another time. 

The Honorable Dennis Gallagher is a former city auditor, city councilman, state senator and state representative. He’ll be sharing thoughts and stories from North Denver’s past and future in his reoccuring column in The Denver North Star.


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