Spring Musical

Little Shop of Horrors

The West Campus spring musical was a success thanks to the dedicated cast and crew from West Leadership Academy, West Generation Academy and West Career Academy.  Special thanks to Ms. Walburn, Ms. Kennedy, Mr. Cooke and Ms. Irvin for all their hard work!

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Race Forum with the Denver Nuggets

On January 20th WLA hosted retired NBA player Mark Randall, Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia, and Nuggets players Randy Foye and Jameer Nelson to kick off Black History Month. There was a panel discussion about race and discrimination. The purpose of the event was to get students ready to study civil rights in Mr. Curtiss’ US History class. All WLA 10th graders attended.  Highlights were a shooting prize contest and hearing the message the players sent of not being persuaded by peer pressure and to seek help from teachers and mentors when you need it.
Event Report by Jorge Celis
Photography by Leslie Valles

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75th annual Singing Christmas Tree

Generations of West Cowboys Unite Under West Campus Singing Christmas Tree
Story from thecommons.dpsk12.org

This week, the West Campus celebrated the 75th Anniversary of its annual singing Christmas tree. The tradition has been a constant in the community since 1941. “I can only imagine what it meant to the community, as the nation entered the war, to have this bright light during the holidays,” said Greg Cooke, executive director of the West Campus Singing Christmas Tree.
Approximately 80 voices were included in this year’s singing tree, including those from students in grades six through 12 at West Generation Academy and West Leadership Academy, as well as 35 alumni — representing six decades of West Cowboys. New this year was a multimedia element of the show, with video from alumni speaking about the significance of the singing tree in their own lives.
One alumnus shared his story about how the singing Christmas tree helped him rekindle his love for music after his pursuit of a career in that field was put on hold when he was drafted into the Vietnam War.

For West Leadership Academy principal Teresa Klava, this year’s performance represents unity for the West Campus, which is shared by West Generation Academy and West Leadership Academy. “We’ve gone through a lot of changes in the past five years, but the West Cowboys and the West Campus are still a part of our community –- and the tree exemplifies that,” Teresa said.

 

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Photography by Jim Guerra.

 

West Campus unveils newly-renovated Butler Building

Robotics ArenaOn November 30th West Campus celebrated the completion of a dramatic $600,000 renovation to the Butler Building.  The Butler Building will house the West Campus CareerConnect program. The upgrade was made possible through the 2012 bond. The ribbon-cutting ceremony included student demonstrations and a tour of the facility.

The DPS CareerConnect program offers students hands-on, project-based courses. These classes engage students with rigorous, relevant and applied learning. Historically, students enrolled in these career-focused courses graduate at 30% higher rates and are better prepared for post-secondary education.

The University of Colorado Denver made an announcement during the ceremony to partner with the Denver Public Schools CareerConnect program. This exciting new partnership will allow educators to better prepare Denver students for higher education and the workplace. The partnership will give DPS students access to innovative learning opportunities, leading to meaningful college and career options.

Explore Week

West Leadership students participated in a week-long,  intensive course in October that allowed them to apply skills from their academic classes to real-world situations.  Every year students are given the opportunity to choose a topic they are passionate about and spend one full week deeply exploring that topic.  Options this year included culinary arts, performing arts, athletics, film, fashion design, finance and engineering.  Students worked collaboratively on projects at school and also attended field trips to universities, museums, restaurants, and theaters in the Denver metro area.

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Sophomores soar to new heights at Genesee Park

On Friday, September 18th, all the 10th-graders attended a field trip to Genesee Park.  It was a fun and unforgettable experience.  We learned how to work as a team, to face our fears, and to trust in our classmates.  The experience helped us as young teens learn that we can overcome anything as long as we set our minds to it.  Thank you Ms. Klava, Mr. Curtiss, Mr. Filiowich, and Mr. Sanchez for this unforgettable and helpful life experience!

Trip report and photos by Ana Samayoa-Ramos, Luis Carrasco, and Joanna Wieser.

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8th Grade Continuation

On June 4th, 2015 West Leadership Academy (WLA) celebrated its first eighth grade continuation.  The participating students were the first sixth grade class at the school’s inception in 2012.  The school has grown successively by adding grade levels as the students advanced.  Next year, these students proudly enter high school at WLA.

Middle School Principal Dave Alex kicked off the event by welcoming the community and honoring the young learners.  He emphasized the school’s three core values: integrity, scholarship, and citizenship and congratulated the students for embodying them throughout their time at WLA. Principal Alex described the events to follow and introduced distinguished guest City Council Member Paul Lopez.

Executive Principal Teresa Sena Klava continued with a heart-felt recognition of the students as pioneers of a unique learning environment that offers opportunities such as: college visits to familiarize students with the higher learning opportunities after high school (students grade 6-12 visit at least two colleges every year); special events like participation in the Latin-Eco Festival where Dolores Huerta implored students to act based on their passions by organizing groups; service learning projects like the cleaning of West Campus and Sunken Gardens Park; and explore courses that allow students to choose a week-long intensive course to explore a passion and learn through experience.  Principal Klava shared an excerpt of the poem “The Bottom Line,” by Keith Kennedy:

FACE IT, nobody owes you a living.
What you achieve, or fail to achieve in your lifetime
is directly related to what you do or fail to do…

No one chooses his parents or childhood,
but you can choose your own direction.

Everyone has problems and obstacles to overcome
but, that too, is relative to each individual.

NOTHING IS CARVED IN STONE.
You can change anything in your life,
if you want it badly enough.

And never think it is too early to begin.
Time plays no favorites
and will pass whether you act or not.

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE
Dare to dream and take risks…Compete.
If you aren’t willing to work for your goals don’t expect others to.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

Principal Klava concluded by remarking that she’s known many of the students since they were in third grade, and she is proud -and honored- to be their principal at WLA.  She challenged students to embrace their future, advocate for themselves and communities, and realize there is no limit to their future success.  She concluded with special thanks to the parents and community for their continued support.

Student speeches by Blandy Ek-Cardoz, Brisa Ramirez-Anguiano, Lucciano Alire, and Armando Gutierrez included memories from their time as middle school students and gratitude for their teachers.  They remembered being timid sixth graders brought out of their shells thanks to the encouragement of their first teachers here.  They feel that their horizons are continuously expanding as students at WLA.  Students also commented on the process of challenging boundaries, making poor decisions at times, but eventually learning how to be successful in a school that facilitates their development as young leaders.

Councilman Lopez, a 1997 graduate of West High School, proudly took the stage and reminisced that when he was in the students’ seats, he didn’t know what his future held.  He said, “But you know exactly where you’re going, and it starts with a ‘C’!”  Students shouted, “College!”  He urged them to safely celebrate their success this summer and surround themselves with good friends, but to remember they’re West Cowboys.  He remarked that West has a history of protest as students of a similar heritage were once treated poorly in this building.  “The students in this school protested and played an important role in changing that.”  He encouraged students to choose an identity, own it, be proud of it, but don’t step on someone else because of it.  He quoted social rights activist Cesar Chavez, “Preservation of one’s own culture doesn’t require contempt or disrespect for other’s cultures.”

The final point made by Councilman Lopez was that there are literally millions of people in the world that would risk their lives crossing oceans and deserts to be in classrooms like theirs “so they better take the front seat!”  He also reminded students that their families work to keep them in that seat.  With this privilege comes great responsibility.  Lopez concluded that if he speaks for these students again, he would like it to be as a guest in a college classroom.

WLA Dean Cris Sandoval then read each student’s name as they approached the stage guided by their middle school teacher.  The students then crossed through the “Arch of Knowledge.”  Awaiting them on the other side were high school teachers to welcome to the next phase of their education.

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Service Learning Day

Today West Leadership Academy students learned about our core value of citizenship by participating in our third annual service learning day.  Our Latin Dance Club kicked off the event with a great performance.  Denver Parks and Recreation then assigned duties to all students and staff members.  We  spent the morning cleaning up Sunken Gardens and beautifying our campus by collecting trash, painting, sweeping, weeding and raking.  Thank you to Denver Parks and Recreation for collaborating with us and giving us this opportunity to give back to our community!

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Time Capsule and Cornerstone Dedication

On Monday, May 11th students, staff, parents, alumni and school board members attended the cornerstone dedication ceremony by the grand masonic lodge.  The original cornerstone and time capsule were removed back in April.  Student leadership opened the time capsule and found many items left to us by West High students in 1924, including a bible, stamps, rivalry cards, a long list of National Honors Society students, a picture of the school principal, letters, coins, newspapers, yearbooks, a flag and student handbooks.  Some of these items will be put back into the time capsule for students to find in 100 years.

At the cornerstone dedication ceremony the alumni association and two student representatives from each school showed their contributions to the new time capsule.  This story was featured on Channel 7 News.

Items put into the time capsule included books about the history of West, t-shirts, yearbooks, prom pictures, music on a CD that we hope will be playable in the future, newspaper articles about current events and a secret letter from the current head boy to the future head boy, assuming there will be a head boy in 100 years.

West Leadership Academy contributed collages showing 2015 trends, an empty bag of Hot Cheetos and an iPhone case.

The freemasons then re-enacted the original cornerstone ceremony.   There were 3,000 masons at the dedication of the West High School building in 1924.  Just like the original ceremony, the masons checked to make sure the cornerstone was square, level and plumb.   Representatives from each school were given the honor of using a trowel to add cement to the cornerstone.  Afterwards, the masons added corn, symbolizing nourishment and plenty, wine symbolizing refreshment and joy, and oil representing peace.    The cornerstone will be replaced next week with our new time capsule.  The contents of the time capsule won’t be seen again until the West High School community opens it in 100 years.

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Explore Week

West Leadership students participated in a week-long,  intensive course in March that allowed them to apply skills from their academic classes to real-world situations.  Every year students are given the opportunity to choose a topic they are passionate about and spend one full week deeply exploring that topic.  Options this year included Latin dance, culinary arts, visual arts, athletics, fashion design, science and technology.  Students worked collaboratively on projects at school and also attended field trips to universities, museums, restaurants, theaters and stadiums in the Denver metro area.

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