Last night I attended the inaugural 8th grade graduation of West Denver Prep (on whose board I serve). This was an enthralling and uplifting event, with a poignant and vibrant address by Paul Lopez (Denver City Council District 3), and remarkable advice from the teacher selected to address the class and who shared their transformation. But the students were the stars. As I watched these kids cross the stage, I was struck by how much effort had gone into their last three years – both from them and all the other people in the large ballroom. And I imagined how many times this scene had and will play itself out across Denver this spring.
A friend deeply involved in urban education maintains that for many similar students, their chances of success depend on getting two adults as advocates on their behalf. These can be a parent, outside family member, community volunteer, teacher, or mentor. Last night these kids had those advocates in abundance.
So I’ll ask: be one of those advocates, in whatever way you can. Help at your local district school; serve on the board of a charter school, or volunteer one of many community service organizations (if you don’t know where to start, email me and I’ll try some suggestions). For me, direct involvement in a school has been a deeply meaningful experience, and it reminds me, even on the very best days, how much more work there is to do.