When STRIVE Prep – RISE opened last fall, scholars and staff looked forward to being able to choose what their school culture would look like and what opportunities their school would offer, both to its students and the surrounding community.

One group, started by Assistant Principal Jay Samant, has been working hard to give back to the school and community through professional and character development for its members.

Mr. Samant started the True Gentleman Fraternity as an organization to empower and develop young men as leaders on campus.

“I wanted them to feel empowered and have opportunities in leadership, service to humanity and to promote diverse cultures and for them to really grow into themselves,” said Mr. Samant.

Since the group began taking applications last October, they have inducted 22 members, with six


The True Gentlemen Fraternity at the Youth Leadership Summit at Manuel High School.

members serving in leadership roles.

The students were attracted to the group because of the growth opportunities they knew it would offer.

“The reason I joined is because I thought it would be a good chance to interact with my peers and a good opportunity to learn to be more professional and respectful and to become a better leader,” said Jackquee Stephenson, who serves as the fraternity’s president.

So far, the fraternity members have attended the League of Leadership conference, a student-led conference designed to empower young men of color.

“We covered everything from racism to leadership, and we even got to meet David Banner, former rapper,” said Vice President Brayan Cruz Mendoza who also noted that the event was one of his favorite memories this year.

The young men are working to identify more opportunities for both leadership and community service.

“I help Mr. Samant find opportunities for community service and we’re planning a trip to Urban Farms to give back,” said Alex Ramos-Loya, the group’s community service chairman.


The young men with Ms. Perez on Valentine’s Day.

The group has found small ways to give back and show respect around campus as well – on Valentine’s Day they showed their appreciation for the staff at school by giving each female staff member a flower, and serenading her in Spanish.

“We wanted to show them respect and thank them for everything they do for us,” Alex said.

The young men are also looking forward to attending the Youth Job Fair and practicing their professionalism in a new environment later this year, as well as growing the organization as a whole.

“They are refining the organization and excited to continue growing,” said Mr. Samant. “They’re building culture within their class and holding themselves to high standards – both academically and professionally.”

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Dear Family,

My name is Daniella Morello, and I am the Far Northeast Regional Outreach & Engagement Manager at STRIVE Preparatory Schools. Since my family and I moved to Denver a year and a half ago, I’ve spent most of my time in Montbello getting to know families like yours, often talking parent-to-parent about the most important people in our lives…our kids.

That’s right, I myself am the proud mom of a two-and-a-half year old daughter, and it’s hard to imagine her heading off to preschool and kindergarten soon. Sure, I’ve got a little bit of time, but we all know that time flies and before I know it, I’ll be looking for an early childhood education (ECE) center and elementary school for my little girl.

So, while I can’t fully understand how you feel as you think about what kind of ECE and elementary school will be best for your child, I imagine that the restart of John Amesse Elementary School must be bringing up a lot of questions in your mind. And, as a parent, I know how important it is to have the opportunity to ask those questions and even share your own thoughts on what you think is best for your child.

That’s why I’m so happy to be working with STRIVE Prep, one of the school candidates looking to work with families to create a great elementary school in Montbello. With two middle schools and a high school already in the community, we’re encouraging families to reimagine the future of what education can look like in Montbello from kindergarten all the way through high school.

Come rediscover the joy of learning by touring an existing STRIVE Prep school, and help recreate the school community you want for your kids and your neighbors’ kids by attending a Community Feedback Session. Tell me what you want your school community to look like. How do you want to be involved? What qualities do you want in a school principal? Would your child prefer Art, Music, PE or Spanish?

If you’re like me, there are even more questions you’re wondering about as you consider what kind of school community is best for you and your family. Let’s talk about them together. And, let’s work together to create a school where all of our kids can discover the joy of learning and reach their dreams. Together, let’s STRIVE Higher Montbello.

I hope to see you at a school tour and community feedback session soon! Sign up today at striveprep.org/strivehigher. Be sure to “LIKE” the STRIVE Higher Montbello Facebook page to stay updated on events and opportunities to connect with me and other STRIVE Prep teachers and families.

Daniella Morello
STRIVE Prep Far Northeast Regional Outreach & Engagement Manager

Estimada Familia,

Mi nombre es Daniella Morello y soy la Directora de Relaciones Comunitarias y Participación Familiar del Extremo Noreste para las escuelas de STRIVE Prep. Desde que mi familia y yo nos mudamos a Denver hace un año y medio, he pasado la mayor parte de mi tiempo en Montbello conociendo a familias como la suya, hablando a menudo de padre a padre sobre las personas mas importantes en nuestras vidas…nuestros niños.

Asi es, yo soy la mamá orgullosa de una hija de dos años y medio y es difícil imaginar su partida a preescolar y kindergarten pronto. Claro, tengo un poco de tiempo, pero todos sabemos que el tiempo vuela y antes de que lo sepa estaré buscando un centro de educación de temprana edad (ECE) y una escuela primaria para mi niña.

Aunque no puedo entender completamente cómo se siente al pensar en qué tipo de ECE y escuela primaria será mejor para su hijo/a, imaginó que el reinicio de la escuela primaria de John Amesse debe de plantear muchas preguntas en su mente. Y, como madre, yo sé lo importante que es tener la oportunidad de hacer esas preguntas, e incluso compartir sus propios pensamientos de lo que usted cree que sea lo mejor para su hijo/a.

Es por eso que estoy tan feliz de estar trabajando con STRIVE Prep, una de las escuelas solicitantes que quiere trabajar con familias para crear una gran escuela primaria en Montbello. Con dos escuelas secundarias y una preparatoria actualmente en la comunidad, estamos animando a las familias a reimaginar el futuro de cómo puede ser la educación en Montbello desde Kindergarten hasta el final de la escuela preparatoria.

Acompáñanos a redescubrir la alegría del aprendizaje visitando a una escuela actual de STRIVE Prep y ayude a recrear la comunidad escolar que usted desea para sus hijos y los niños de sus vecinos asistiendo a una Sesión de Sugerencias de la Comunidad. Déjame saber como usted quiere que se vea su comunidad escolar. ¿Cómo quiere usted estar involucrado? ¿Qué cualidades desea usted en un Director escolar? ¿Preferiría su hijo/a el Arte, la Música, Educación Física o Español?

Si usted es como yo, hay aún más preguntas que se está preguntando al considerar que tipo de comunidad escolar es mejor para usted y su familia. Hablemos de ellos juntos. Y, trabajemos juntos para crear una escuela donde todos nuestros niños puedan descubrir la alegría del aprendizaje y alcanzar sus sueños. Juntos vamos a Esforzarnos Para Algo Más Alto Montbello (STRIVE Higher Montbello).

Espero verle en un tour escolar y en una Sesión de Sugerencias de la Comunidad pronto! Registrese hoy en striveprep.org/strivehigher. Asegúrese de darnos un “LIKE” o “ME GUSTA” en nuestra página de Facebook, STRIVE Higher Montbello, para mantenerse al tanto sobre eventos y oportunidades para conectarse conmigo y con otros maestros y familias de STRIVE Prep.

Daniella Morello
Directora de Relaciones Comunitarias y Participación Familiar del Extremo Noreste

STRIVE Prep – Excel, in collaboration with North High School’s Northside Black Masque Theater is proud to perform the Tony award-winning musical, “In the Heights” for three nights this week, February 23-25. Don’t miss your chance to see these talented students perform this vibrant and culturally relevant musical.


Students from STRIVE Prep – Excel and North High School rehearse for In the Heights.

Students from the STRIVE Prep – Excel music department and North High School’s drama department have been working hard to bring this award-winning musical to families, friends and neighbors in the Northwest Denver community.

This week, the collaborative vision will become a reality thanks to the support of current and former teachers, and members of Denver’s performing arts community who have provided coaching and guidance in everything from music (including members of the socially conscious hip-hop group, The Flobots) and dance, to set and costume design. Of course, none of this would be possible without the scholars who are bringing the show’s diverse characters to life.

Set in the unique Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City, the themes of community, life as an immigrant, and living the American dream in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood are very relatable for the STRIVE Prep – Excel and North High School students who make up the cast.

The show’s main character, Usnavi, is played by STRIVE Prep – Excel scholar, Alan Sanchez, who will make his theatrical debut for the first time on any stage when the show opens on February 23rd.

“With all the things that have been happening with the economy and politics, escapism should be something we value,” Alan told the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. “And this musical shows people this is our home.”

Through the shared vision of North High School Drama Director Megen Gilman and STRIVE Prep – Excel Music Director Edwina Lucero, “In the Heights” gives students from two different Northwest Denver high schools an opportunity to share the stage and express themselves both individually and collectively. Together, they they bring the joys, heartbreaks and vibrant changes of the Washington Heights neighborhood to audiences in Northwest Denver, a community also undergoing rapid growth and cultural change.

“Our students may come from different schools, but they’re living next door to one another and

Scholars have enjoyed the high-power dance numbers and hip-hop and spoken word poetry from the musical.

down the street from each other in the same neighborhoods,” said Co-director, Edwina Lucero.

“That’s why they can share the stage, singing and dancing their hearts out as they tell the stories of these characters, whose lives they can relate to so well. It’s been such an honor serving our students alongside Megen and bringing this wonderful piece of art to the Northside.”

Come support our scholars to see their collaborative work on the groundbreaking musical for three nights this Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

In The Heights – A musical with lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes.

  • February 23, 24, 25 at 7 PM
  • North High School Auditorium, 2690 Speer Blvd.
  • Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors
  • Tickets available online or at STRIVE Prep – Excel’s main office.

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Thanks to the generosity of some invaluable community partners, more than 155 STRIVE Prep – Ruby Hill families who participate in the Colorado “I Have A Dream” Foundation program recently received affordable computers and home internet service.

PCs for People and the Rotary Club of Denver Southeast donated desktop strive-ruby-hill-scholars-with-computercomputers for families, while Mobile Beacon provided three months of free internet service through donated mobile hotspots.

Families and scholars eagerly attended the donation event and were thrilled to leave with some of the most essential tools to help their young scholars thrive in today’s digital learning environment. With access to a personal computer and a variety of online resources, scholars are able to continue learning well after they leave school. Home technology access also helps close the technology gap, making it less likely for students to fall behind their peers.

Families who were unable to attend the event can still take advantage of this amazing opportunity.

PCs for People is excited to continue to offer any qualifying STRIVE Prep family an affordable computer for their home. Families can visit the PCs for People retail store located at 1548 W. Alameda Ave and purchase desktop computers starting as low as $30, laptops starting at $50 and internet service for about $10-$13 a month.

To qualify, families must show proof of government assistance (i.e., SNAP, SSI, free and reduced lunch) and a photo ID.

If you or someone you know may be looking for an affordable computer, call PCs for People at 720.278.7725.


What builds a person’s identity? Is it their community? Their education? Their own perception of themselves? Seventh grade world studies scholars at STRIVE Prep – Westwood, Green Valley Ranch, and Sunnyside have been working on lessons that explore the concept of identity in history and in their own lives, which culminated in a community dialogue with various members from around the city.

Community members whose backgrounds include law enforcement, education and international relations spent a class period participating in an identity discussion sparked by questions written by students.

STRIVE Prep – Green Valley Ranch students had the opportunity to speak with Farrah Martin, a farrah-martin-speaks-strive-prep-scholarsformer teacher and the founder of Colorado S.T.E.A.M. Academy, an after school program focused on providing a safe, nurturing place for students interested in exploring STEM careers.

Martin talked with scholars about how self-esteem, education and major events (for her it was Hurricane Katrina) have all shaped her identity and helped her to become the influential person she is today.

“A small impact in one place can create big changes in other places,” she told students. For Martin, many facets of who she is and what she’s experienced have shaped her desire to pursue a career in education. Students also learned that even today, her chosen career path continues to shape the definition of who Farrah Martin is to her family, friends and the community around her.

The next day in class, students participated in a Socratic Seminar to further discuss the concepts from the previous day through facilitated open-ended questions, giving them the opportunity to further explore their own thoughts about identity with their peers.

We can’t wait to see how our scholars continue to grow and develop into the best versions of themselves throughout the year. Thank you to our community members for supporting our students’ journeys of self-discovery.

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As the season of gratitude continues throughout November, STRIVE Prep is grateful to partner with many accomplished Denver community members, who are kindly offering their most valuable resource – their time, to help build the Far Northeast Denver community’s next generation of leaders through a new mentorship program at STRIVE Prep – RISE.

The supportive relationships formed between professional mentors and high school age mentees are proven to have both immediate and long-term benefits, including increased graduation rates, better attitudes about school, enhanced self-esteem, and improved interpersonal skills.

“Youth outreach is important because we have a responsibility to guide the next generation of our country and expose them to all the opportunities available and reinforce the idea that anything is possible,” Guillermo Reyes, IT Specialist at Lockheed Martin and STRIVE Prep – RISE Mentor said.

The mentors, who will build relationships with the STRIVE Prep – RISE Phoenix, have diverse professional backgrounds, ranging from technology, to accounting, to law enforcement and more.

“It is important to provide positive role models to youth; and positive engagements between youth and the police are both valuable and necessary,” Commander Ron Thomas said. Thomas will be one of two members of the Denver Police Department participating in the program.

The program isn’t just beneficial for students, mentors look forward to learning and growing alongside their mentees through their future shared experiences.

When asked why she chose to become a mentor, Anne Goff, Senior Manager of Revenue Accounting at Frontier Airlines said, “The mentorship program enables students to get unbiased and real advice when I think they need it most. And, these students may teach me a thing or two in the process.”

Mentors and mentees have a monthly lunch at the STRIVE Prep – RISE campus, where they spend time learning more about each other and discussing education and career opportunities. The pairs are welcome and encouraged to find additional time to spend together to foster the growth of their relationships.

Are you a Denver professional interested in becoming a mentor for a STRIVE Prep – RISE freshman? Contact Principal Elisha Roberts.

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Denver voters overwhelmingly approved ballot measures 3A and 3B on Election Day, and STRIVE Prep could not appreciate the support more. Voters who said “yes” to the mill levy tax override and bond can be assured that their vote has helped not just STRIVE Prep students, but all students within Denver Public Schools, to learn in classrooms equipped with the tools and supports they need to succeed.

From improving learning environments in Northwest Denver, to completing construction of our third high school in Far Northeast Denver, to helping scholars of all ages have access to the technology they need in Southwest Denver, the voters turned out to make sure our scholars can STRIVE for College for years to come. STRIVE Prep, and our 3,500 scholars, thank you!

Learn more about how your vote is supporting students in our three regions:

Northwest Denver

Far Northeast Denver

Southwest Denver

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By Lindsey Lucero

Next Tuesday, Denver voters will decide whether or not to approve ballot measures 3A and 3B, bond and mill levy tax overrides that will help STRIVE Prep’s Southwest Denver schools continue to expand opportunities for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Eleven years ago when STRIVE Prep’s first campus opened in Southwest Denver, the public school options for a high-quality, college-preparatory school, with 21st century resources in that area were far and few between. Today, STRIVE Prep is proud to have five schools in the region, serving students in grades K-12, including, our flagship high school, where 92 percent of graduating seniors from the class of 2016 gained acceptance to a four-year college or university. 


STRIVE Prep – SMART scholars use their personal devices for everything from research to assignment submission to homework help.

Undoubtedly, the integration of technology in the classroom increases students’ abilities to meet goals and find success navigating the challenges of today’s 21st century. When every child has access to their own individual computer or mobile device, as is the case at STRIVE Prep, student success expands tremendously.

“We have a critical need to equip our scholars with college-level technology skills that go beyond mere access,” Steve Holz-Russell, Director of Education Technology for STRIVE Prep, said. “We strive for equity in the meaningful use of technology, so it may amplify our scholars’ agency to succeed, lead and transform in their schools, future colleges, and in their own communities.”

The impact of technology in education is especially apparent in Southwest Denver, where STRIVE Prep serves its widest age range of learners. From elementary, to middle, to high school, the benefits of technology use and availability are helping all of our scholars become college ready.


Giving our youngest scholars at STRIVE Prep – Ruby Hill access to technology early on erases any chance for a gap in technology knowledge.

In elementary school, having daily access to computers means that scholars can become digital leaders at an early age, erasing any opportunity for a digital divide to block student achievement.

At the middle school level, classrooms become 1:1, meaning there is one technology device per student at the campus, which creates a more engaging learning environment, especially for scholars who are at different levels and learning paces in classes like English Language Arts and Math.

Finally, in high school it is critical for scholars to be equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in college. That includes everything from digital literacy, to typing, to leveraging the power of the Internet for effective, meaningful research.

Last year’s seniors at STRIVE Prep – SMART, the network’s first high school, were able to use their student devices to research college options, develop their personal statements and to submit applications to universities across the country. By May, 92 percent of the graduating class of 2016 was admitted to a four-year college or university.

In order to keep this level of success going, funding for individual student devices is necessary at every grade level. The mill and bond levy proposals will help ensure that STRIVE Prep students in Southwest Denver have the technology tools and resources to continually push them toward new levels of achievement.

To learn more about the proposal visit bond.dpsk12.org.

This piece is a part of a series about how the bond and mill proposals will affect schools in each of STRIVE Prep’s three regions. Read more about the impact in Northwest and Far Northeast Denver.

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By Lindsey Lucero

With Election Day less than a week away Denver voters are making their final decisions, and one important ballot measure could help STRIVE Prep’s Far Northeast Schools increase their capacity to serve students and provide additional technology funding to support student success in the classroom and at home.

Ballot measures 3A and 3B are bond and mill levy tax overrides that will provide increased funding to all STRIVE Prep and Denver Public Schools, based on designated needs for each school.


Construction at the Regis F. Groff campus is ongoing, mill and bond levy tax overrides will help complete the east quad and add 500 seats for students between STRIVE Prep- RISE and KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy.

For STRIVE Prep – RISE, our network’s first high school in Far Northeast Denver, the 2016 bond proposal means that the Regis F. Gross Campus, where the school is co-located with a KIPP high school, will receive the funding it needs to complete the east quad – creating space and capacity to add 500 high school seats to serve scholars in ninth through twelfth grade over the next three years.

Although STRIVE Prep – RISE has only been open since August, it’s impact has already been felt by the community, not the least of which include 9th graders from the school’s founding class, the college class of 2025. Having a high-quality, college-focused school like STRIVE Prep – RISE in an area that has traditionally had too few options for families, represents an opportunity that is not lost on scholars.

“I feel like I’m being prepared for college in the sense that they [our teachers] are very honest with us,” said Marina Ramirez, a STRIVE Prep – RISE freshman and student ambassador. “They’re tough on us in the sense that we don’t get away with slacking off and they encourage us that we are capable of doing more.”

In addition to increasing capacity, the 2016 bond proposal will also allow increased funding for technology devices – a crucial tool to advance 21st century skills and learning.

This year, STRIVE Prep – RISE was able to give every scholar their own computer to use at school and at home to complete assignments. Not only does this teach scholars real-world skills in email communication and responsible technology usage, it also makes bridging the gap between high school and college, where most teacher to student communication and assignments are online, an easy transition.

“[Having my own computer] is really convenient because if I need help I can email a teacher from home and go back and


STRIVE Prep – RISE scholars use their laptops daily to do interactive assignments, communicate with teachers, and complete homework.

review what I learned that day,” said Melissa Boateng, STRIVE Prep – RISE freshman.

Far Northeast Denver is a growing and thriving community, and in order to continue that growth, the area needs great schools that will prepare its youth for college and beyond.

The classrooms and supports that ballot measures 3A and 3B will provide to STRIVE Prep’s Far Northeast Denver students, especially at STRIVE Prep – RISE, will help them rise up to become the leaders that a flourishing community needs. To learn more about the proposal visit bond.dpsk12.org.

This piece is a part of a series about how the bond and mill proposals will affect schools in each of STRIVE Prep’s three regions. Read more about the impact in Northwest and Southwest Denver.

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By Lindsey Lucero

As of Monday, Denver voters will find two initiatives on their ballots that can help STRIVE Prep improve learning environments, increase technology access, and support students’ mental health, if passed.

Measures 3A and 3B are bond and mill levy proposals to increase funding for all Denver Public Schools. If approved, each school in the district will receive funding specific to a set of priorities as well as some school-specific needs.

For STRIVE Prep’s Northwest Denver schools, that means the older buildings of STRIVE Prep –


The historic Lake Junior High School was built in 1926, and is now home to STRIVE Prep – Lake and Lake International School.

Lake, STRIVE Prep – Sunnyside and STRIVE Prep – Excel will be able to upgrade their cooling and venting, drastically improving learning environments for scholars.

At the Lake campus, which was ranked one of DPS’s hottest buildings, temperatures have reached the upper 80s inside classrooms on warmer days, which interferes with student achievement.

“When it’s that hot, teachers can’t teach and students can’t learn,” Emily Park-Friend, Assistant Principal of Student Services at STRIVE Prep – Lake said. “It’s very challenging to process new information under conditions like that.”

STRIVE Prep – Lake and STRIVE Prep – Excel are both proud to serve scholars with emotional disabilities in their Affective Needs centers – and the cooling and venting upgrades would help these scholars immensely.

“Most of us get a little agitated when it’s hot and uncomfortable,” Ms. Park-Friend pointed out. “If you have challenges with emotional regulation, imagine trying to maintain composure with temperatures climbing that high.”

The bond and mill levy proposals will also provide funding for classroom technology and devices for each of STRIVE Prep’s Northwest Denver schools, which will help STRIVE Prep ensure that every child at the middle and high school level has access to their own personal computer.


Scholars at STRIVE Prep – Excel use computers to complete classwork and are able to take them home at night for homework.

When students have access to technology they are able to build 21st century skills that they will need to be successful in college and beyond.

“Real world skills, like typing, acceptable usage, reputable sources, et cetera, are woven into each lesson,” Ms. Park-Friend said about the benefits of having available technology. “And, we’re using far less paper than we used to!”

If passed, 3A and 3B will not only improve classrooms and learning tools for STRIVE Prep’s Northwest Denver scholars, a portion of the mill levy will go toward investing in social and emotional supports for all DPS students.

Mental health enrichment was a key priority identified by teachers for students, and investing in these needs will not only help them be happier and healthier citizens of our community, it will also improve their ability to learn.

“[Past trauma] can lead to executive functioning challenges and difficulties with emotional regulation,” Ms. Park-Friend said. “Students can’t learn if their physical and mental health needs aren’t met, it’s important that we have trained and professional mental health staff that can effectively serve all of our students.”

Serving all students is what this funding comes down to: Whether it is improving classrooms, providing tools necessary for 21st century success, or supporting scholars emotionally, the 2016 bond and mill levy measures will improve STRIVE Prep’s Northwest campuses, and all Denver Public Schools’, ability to give all students the education they deserve. To learn more about the proposal visit bond.dpsk12.org.

This piece is a part of a series about how the bond and mill proposals will affect schools in each of STRIVE Prep’s three regions. Read more about the impact in Southwest and Far Northeast Denver.

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