The hard work of the STRIVE Prep – Sunnyside boy’s basketball team recently paid off as the team wrapped up an undefeated season, culminating in a 40-39 point win against High Point Academy at sunny-bball-featuredthe Denver Charter Athletic League Championship.

This win meant a lot to the entire team, especially to eighth graders Darius Padilla, who advanced to the same championship game last year and Jose Sandoval, who has grown tremendously as an athlete in his first year on the team.

“To come back and win the championship this year felt pretty great,” Darius said.

And although both Darius and Jose are pleased with the outcome of their season, as eighth graders moving on to high school next year, they’ll miss the camaraderie of their team most of all.

“The fun times we had during and after practice really brought everyone closer together,” Jose reminisced.

Darius agreed, adding that by the end of the season, his teammates and coaches, Aaron Oster-Beal and Tyler Bolden (both teachers at STRIVE Prep – Sunnyside), felt like family.

“One of my favorite memories was creating a close bond with everyone,” he said.

“And I especially want to say thank you to the coaches for everything they’ve done, making me a leader on and off the court, making practice and the games fun, and all around making me a better person.”

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Scholars at STRIVE Prep – Lake are letting their creative juices flow and embracing the joys of art class with Ms. Taylor. Check out the featured artist for the month in their new artist showcase. Eighth grader Citlalitl Hernandez created this self-portrait showcasing her love of music. We love seeing this wonderful artwork from our talented and creative Sharks!



Scholars and teachers across the network recognized and celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. last month.

In Far Northeast Denver, school leaders from STRIVE Prep – RISE and STRIVE Prep – Montbello kicked off the celebration by participating in the MLK-artwork33rd Annual MLK Marade on Monday, January 16. The event, a combination of march and parade, is unique to Denver as participants march and come together at the I Have A Dream monument in City Park to honor Dr. King.

Throughout the following week, STRIVE Prep – Montbello students
participated in community meetings and classroom discussions about civil disobedience and Dr. King’s legendary “I Have A Dream” speech from the 1963 March on Washington.

The Pumas also created a mosaic poster of Dr. King to capture the essence
of his “dream.” Displayed in the hallway, the mosaic offers a visual reminder of how important it is to spread King’s message of unity and equality for all.

Looking forward, scholars at all schools will continue to celebrate and learn about the contributions and achievements of Dr. King and other prominent African Americans as Black History Month begins today. Check back on our blog to see some of their work in action.

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As the holiday season approaches, all of STRIVE Prep’s scholars are busy preparing for their interim assessments and wrapping up their work from Quarter 2.

All of this hustle and bustle didn’t stop 24 STRIVE Prep – Excel students in Advanced Choir from taking the time to spread some seasonal cheer to their community.

Last week, the scholars performed at a nearby retirement home, showing community members the pieces they’ve worked on so far this year.

Choir director Edwina Lucero reflected on how students felt about the performance saying,
“They all agreed that it was the best concert of the season because of the pure joy they saw in the faces of the residents during and after their performance.”

After the performance ended, scholars stayed for almost half an hour to talk with residents. They listened to stories of seniors’ youth and what impact music had on their own lives when they were in school, and to soak up some well-deserved compliments on their performance as a bonus!

Congratulations to the STRIVE Prep – Excel Advanced Choir on a successful service learning trip and for making a positive impact on the Northwest Denver community this holiday season.


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By Jessica Majerus | Assistant Principal of Culture for STRIVE Prep – Excel

In Northwest Denver, caring about one’s community is a long held tradition and a community norm, so when STRIVE Prep – Excel staff arranges for service learning trips, it’s never hard to find students to go.

This year alone, our Lions have fed families at the Ronald McDonald House, prepared food for homeless teens at Urban Peak, and bettered their own neighborhood by helping to clean up La Raza Park.


Alicia Matute and Shyanne Casias read to preschoolers as a part of a reading intervention group.

None of these events would have been possible without the dream team of Christine McDermott, AP Lit and AP Language teacher, and Alicia Matute, class of 2017 senior extraordinaire. 

Howard Zinn says this of service to others: “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”  At STRIVE Prep – Excel we task students to go out and change the world when they leave our doors.  However, our students also don’t wait to leave before beginning the work and Alicia is a perfect example of this.

It is not unusual to receive an email from Alicia asking for donations in order to buy food for Ronald McDonald House, looking for staff volunteers who can drive students, or asking that the community devote itself to even closer to home projects like ensuring that the shared North High School and STRIVE Prep – Excel campus is litter free.

She does all of this on top of juggling classes, applying for college, and fundraising for the senior class trip.  

Alicia and Ms. McDermott make our community stronger because they help to weave a beautiful quilt of generosity between our small school and local organizations.  They also make our community stronger by leading with heart and reminding us all that, as Albert Einstein said, “only a life lived in service to others is worth living.”


Students and teachers got involved on a service trip to the Ronald McDonald House of Denver.


Scholars serve food on a recent service trip to Urban Peaks, a homeless shelter, where scholars helped to feed over two dozen young people who currently live at the shelter.

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The founding class of sixth graders at STRIVE Prep – Kepner have spent their first semester building a love for reading and building an inclusive community with their fellow Mustangs.

kepner-reading-buddiesOne way the staff and scholars have created opportunities for students in the Multi Intensive- Severe (MI-S) Special Education Center to interact with their peers in general education settings is through a new reading buddies program.

Monday through Thursday, students are paired up with a reading buddy from the MI-S Center and take the time to practice reading out loud for 20 minutes.

Students are always prepared with their Just Right Book (JRB), a chapter book for each scholar that matches their reading level and content interest, or students in the MI-S center bring a selection of picture books to choose from as well and the buddies have enjoyed reading from both.

This time spent together is helpful to both groups. MI-S scholars are just learning the alphabet, and practicing how to correctly hold a book, turn pages, read left to right as well as learning to identify that words carrying meaning. All of this practice helps MI-S students develop new skills, while the general education scholars are becoming more confident in their reading abilities as they practice reading out loud to others.

Most importantly, all scholars benefit from this time together, and enjoy building new and closer friendships across the entire STRIVE Prep – Kepner campus.

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By Jessica Majerus | Assistant Principal of Culture for STRIVE Prep – Excel

In school, students can sometimes feel like they’re merely the sum of a set of data: their latest SAT score, GPA, or most recent test score.


Javier Godinez is a talented photographer and involved junior at STRIVE Prep – Excel.

At STRIVE Prep – Excel, we know that our scholars are brilliant enough to earn incredibly high SAT scores, GPAs, and master tests.  We also know that our scholars are so much more than a collection of numbers.

One scholar who truly exemplifies this is junior, Javier Godinez.  Javier is a big brother with a passion for autism awareness.  He’s also a budding photographer.

Fueled by curiosity and armed with just a camera, Javier hits the streets of our community to hone his skill. He reports that he enjoys taking pictures of cars and the Denver cityscape.  

One evening, Javier headed out with a few friends and his camera and stumbled on this homeless vet.  After capturing his picture, Javier and his friends offered to buy the man dinner.

Javier is an excellent scholar with a set of numbers that are a testament to his intelligence and work ethic, but beyond that he’s a member of our community who reminds us to fight for those we love.  And, he reminds us to stop and truly see the world around us – whether through a camera lens or with our own eyes.

Javier, thank you for bringing your unique perspective to our community and enriching us all through your passion.

Check out some of Javier’s latest work:


Photograph of disabled veteran in Downtown Denver by Javier Godinez.


Photograph of the Denver skyline by Javier Godinez, junior at STRIVE Prep – Excel.

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Across the STRIVE Preparatory Schools network our middle schoolers all share a common goal for the 2016-17 school year – to become millionaires by the end of the school year.

No, these scholars aren’t trying to win the lottery. They are hoping to become reading millionaires –  scholars who have read a million words or more.


At STRIVE Prep – Federal, scholars track their millionaire progress on grade level bulletin boards.

Every time a scholar finishes a book, either at home or at school, they take a quick test for their understanding of the book at school and when they pass – they earn points based on the number of words in that book.

Two STRIVE Prep scholars met this goal in just one quarter of the 2016-17 school year.

Josue Ramirez, seventh grader at STRIVE Prep – Federal, became the first millionaire out of all STRIVE Prep’s seven middle schools. For him, reading one million words didn’t take long because he met his goal reading his favorite genre of books – dystopian fiction, especially anything with zombies. His favorite book that helped him become a millionaire was The Enemy by Charlie Higson.

For STRIVE Prep – Green Valley Ranch scholar, Bereket “Bear” Ahmed, reaching one million words was exciting, and symbolic, because his millionth word book was also the seventh and final


Bereket, who is nicknamed Bear, is STRIVE Prep – GVR’s “Millionaire Bear”.

book from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which filled his mind with wonder for an enjoyable six months.

“I like reading because it lets me use my imagination and gives me inspiration for when I’m a writer one day,” said Bear.

Meanwhile, at STRIVE Prep – Kepner, scholars earned 43,000 words together when they read The Giver by Lois Lowry as a school.

Becoming a millionaire is hard work for all of our scholars, but the key to success is simple, you just have to read. Check out the video that the STRIVE Prep – Kepner Mustangs made to share this message with the world below:


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“We’re here…we’re ready to cheer… feel the beat… get off your seat!”

strive-smart-cheer-congratulationYep, those are the sounds of the STRIVE Prep – SMART Ocelotl cheerleaders!

Fifteen of STRIVE Prep – SMART Academy’s most enthusiastic and talented girls from 9th through 12th grade represent the cheerleading club, which was recently formed this school year.

This season, the girls plan to rally fans at SMART’S boys and girls basketball home games. To kick off the season, the girls are also hoping to host a pep rally.

As they prepare for what’s sure to be a fun and exciting season, the team is hosting a special car wash fundraiser this Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM at the West entrance of the SMART/Westwood campus, 3201 W. Arizona Ave. The team is accepting $5 donations to help them purchase uniforms, warm ups and pom poms for the upcoming season.

So if your car could use a little TLC, stop by the SMART/Westwood campus to show your support for the Ocelot Cheer Club.

Go Big B-L-U-E!


The STRIVE Prep – SMART Academy campus was buzzing with excitement after the final bell on Monday as students dressed in pajamas for a spirit day, talked about homecoming court elections, the bonfire, and of course – the big game.

Rather than a traditional homecoming football game, the Ocelots chose to highlight their very talented men’s soccer team to celebrate their fall semester and school pride.

Schedule your donation to support enriching student life programs like this for Colorado Gives Day, 12.6.16. 

“Soccer is such a popular sport in our community and kids are excited to play and watch their classmates play,” said Soccer Co-Coach and Geometry Teacher Michael Carey. “So, the decision to have a soccer homecoming game kind of happened organically.”


Coach Joshua Carey works with soccer team on goal drills.

The growing soccer program, which started just four years ago, now has over 30 players – enough for both a varsity and a junior varsity team.

“This season is going very well; we’re off to a strong start and both teams are currently undefeated,” said Coach Carey.

Although a winning season is definitely something to celebrate, the coaches are happy to know that the time spent on the field is also helping scholars grow in their lives off the field.

“It’s our responsibility as educators to educate the whole child; the values that we are able to teach will carry into every aspect of life. We can teach teamwork and brotherhood and sportsmanship,” Carey added.

STRIVE Prep has always placed emphasis on the idea of the student-athlete. Scholars know the importance of commitment in the classroom first. While we recognize their academic achievements, we’re all excited for the opportunities to cheer them onto victory in their sports endeavors as well.

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