DENVER (CBS4) – Seven weeks before the rest of their peers, students at Manual High School headed back to class.

The school is the first in the district to try a new program adding 39 extra days to the school year, making it 210 days long.

What that means is summer vacation is over for the students after just three weeks. It was a bit tough Monday morning, but they also understand the goal.

“It’s kind of ridiculous but it will give us a chance to learn more,” said student Jordan Dawkins.

Most of the students agree with Dawkins’ assessment.

“At first I was kind of mad about it but now I’m all right about it,” Brendan Davis said.

Keith Patterson admitted he was still adjusting, “I’m still kind of mad because I was ready to enjoy the rest of my summer.”

But both boys conceded that in the long run, it’s what will help them academically that’s important.

“We have a lot more time to talk to the teachers now,” Davis said.

“This will help us a lot because we have extended classes and a longer day, it will help us a lot,” was Patterson’s final assessment.

But of those extra days, four weeks will be spent outside the classroom as part of a push to “Learn it and live it.”

“If they are learning about the Civil Rights Movement in their history class, they are then going to get on a bus and go to Memphis, Tenn., and Little Rock, Ark., and they are going to live the Civil Rights Movement,” explained administrator Vernon Jones.

“Our sophomores are excited because they are going to learn about the Harlem Renaissance for a week then they are going to get on a plane and go to Harlem.”

Jordan said the school realized it needed to really think outside the box to inspire its students.

“Where we want to be is a very different place, that’s looking at proficiency and making sure our students when they graduate from here, they’re ready for success in college, careers and their life,” Jordan said. “We had to be intentionally innovative and say, ‘What more can we do?’ ”

That difference doesn’t end with a start date of July 9. On July 10 the entire school heads to Colorado State University to live in dorms and get firsthand experience in what college life is like.

Grants and fundraising pay for the excursions.

Manual students aren’t the only ones who will have longer school years. West Generation Academy and West Leadership Academy open this year at the West High School campus. They will have a 200 day school year. Those students will start August 20 and go through the month of June.


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