DENVER (CBS4) – At Denver’s West High School 85% of the students are Hispanic and West students have a long history of protesting inequality and fighting for social justice. Ten years ago Denver Public Schools divided West into two different schools in an effort to increase graduation rates. The result was West Leadership Academy and West Early College operating in the same building.
While graduation rates did increase, community members say it came at a price.
“We were divided as a community. We were competing against each other. Students and families were divided and felt like they had no type of connection to their community anymore,” said Mia Martinez Lopez, West High School’s Principal.
But last year a student led initiative to reunite the school gained a lot of support and last year the DPS School Board approved it. The school kicked off the 2021-22 school year with a party to celebrate the reunification.
“It’s an amazing, amazing experience we have here. It hasn’t happened yet that we know of where schools that have been divided have been brought together as one, Lopez told CBS4.
A Denver West Middle School will also operate in the building to help make the transition to high school smoother.