West Leadership students celebrated March 14th (3/14) by learning about the infinite, non-repeating constant known in Geometry as Pi, which represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. What better way to end the day than by smashing pies into teachers’ faces!
West Leadership Academy was proud to host Carl Wilkens and his wife Teresa for an assembly for our high school students. As a humanitarian aid worker, Carl Wilkens moved his young family to Rwanda in the spring of 1990. When the genocide was launched in April 1994, Carl refused to leave, even when urged to do so by close friends, his church and the United States government. Thousands of expatriates evacuated and the United Nations pulled out most of its troops. Carl was the only American to remain in the country. Venturing out each day into streets crackling with mortars and gunfire, he worked his way through roadblocks of angry, bloodstained soldiers and civilians armed with machetes and assault rifles in order to bring food, water and medicine to groups of orphans trapped around the city. His actions saved the lives of hundreds. When he spoke today, he wove stories of 1994 with the past and the present in a way that made us think about what it means to have integrity and faith!
Many of the students were inspired by his quote, “We are not defined by what we lost-what was taken. We are defined by what we do with what remains.” He reminded us that good and evil are always present, it depends on what you look for in “the other.” He challenged us to think about our words and actions when we disagree with others. Powerful!
One girl said she is inspired to make a difference in others’ lives from what Carl told us. He reminded us that one person can make a difference. One person can do something small to help out others. We invite more students to share your stories of what you took away from Carl’s talk! Let’s start a conversation!
Our principal bought all the books Carl and Teresa brought so all high schoolers can read his book. The book is soon to be published in Spanish and we will buy copies for our Spanish speakers as well.
For more information about Carl and Teresa visit: http://www.worldoutsidemyshoes.org
In September of 2014 West Leadership Academy students attended a presentation at the second annual America’s Latin Eco-Festival (ALEF) with a focus on the contributions of Cesar Chavez in the environmental and social movements against industrial corporate agriculture in the 1960s.
Around 580 WLA students crowded into an art gallery in the McNichols Civic Center for the presentation organized especially for this event by ALEF Associate Director Kendra Sandoval. A celebrity panel led by activist writers, actors, comedians, and Chavez friends and family led the day-long presentation and discussion:
- Rick Najera- Broadway star, award winning author, and CBS producer of Diversity Comedy Showcase
- Edward James Olmos - Actor & Activist
- Andrew Revkin - DotEarth, NY Times, author of The Burning Season: The Murder of Chico Mendes and the Fight for the Amazon Rain Forest
- Denise Zmekhol - Filmmaker, Children of the Amazon
- Cesar Chavez Family - Liz Chavez and David Villarino
- Dolores Huerta - civil-rights activist, recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Although Cesar Chavez is principally known as a civil rights activist who fought for farmworker’s rights, his work to protect the workers was just as important as protecting the health of the larger community. According to Dolores Huerta, their cry to the public to help the union make the fields safer would in turn make the food safer for the wider public. This marked a pioneering moment in the organic food movement, especially for Latinos, as pesticides were the greatest threat to the farmworker and the consumer of the poisoned food.
The day’s discussions included Edward James Olmos’ call to the students to meet the challenge of acting as if all life has value and should be protected. He stated that greed is destroying our environment and creating a dire situation for all living things. He charged the students with a sense of urgency; that there is great work to be done in order to create a just world. Olmos voiced the students’ need to work with their community to solve problems by working with their peers and their teachers. According to Olmos, his generation has knowledge accumulated over years to change the world, but the youth is our hope since they are the future. The youth should learn from their elders because without knowledge, they are hopeless. Olmos went on to explain that our elders include the aging, wise members from the community, but also our teachers. The teachers should be honored because they are responsible for the success of the future. Gesturing to the students, he bellowed, “Without hope, knowledge dies!” If never before inspired to be passionately dedicated to a goal, this message flipped a switch in the heart of everyone in the room. Students were ready to take on any challenge.
The task may seem daunting with such an overwhelming burden laid upon our youth. Seemingly representing the students’ collective thoughts, a Leadership junior stood and asked the panel where to begin. Dolores answered by using her own experience as a model. She advised students to identify a problem, organize a group to break a problem into manageable challenges, and inspire others to take leadership roles. By building a community around an issue, people embolden each other and the burden becomes lighter. A younger student then stood and asked how to be courageous enough to act upon our ideals. Dolores said to begin the work as if it’s a workout. “It may be uncomfortable at first- it may cause you to feel ansioso, but the more you try, the stronger you’ll become. Eventually the verguenza of accessing the public and trying to change people’s minds turns to pride as you fight for something you believe in.” Dolores calls this gained quality of the activist “emotional fortitude.” She closed by leading the audience in a chant that expressed the simple message of where the power to change truly lies: Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power! What kind of power? People power! Oh, and years ago she also wrote the now famous slogan, “Si, se puede/ Yes we can!” Here at West Leadership Academy, we truly do believe we can.
Without focusing students on any particular goal, yet stating many important environmental and social issues that damage our living community, the panel led the second half of the presentation toward more concrete steps to guide students toward success in their activism. Among the essential elements of a game-changing activist, the panel advised students to lead by example. “If someone sees you doing something great, they’ll follow you.” They also cited Aristotle’s adage that in order to be a good leader, you need to be a good follower. Again they emphasized the youth’s need to take advice from the sages of the community; to do the best they can for their teachers and, eventually, graduate college. In the most impassioned moment of the presentation Olmos stood and asked everyone to raise their hand if they were going to college. He then scoured the room for anyone who refrained, then reasoned with them until they agreed that college is the best start for a chance at success in life. Olmos’ final advice for students is to follow his example. “I had the discipline to do what I loved, even when I didn’t want to.”
West Leadership Academy High School accepted the challenge of friends, family, and even Senator Michael Bennet by participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Principal Klava made a personal donation to the ALS foundation to help fight Lou Gehrig’s Disease (http://www.alsa.org).
8/29/2014 – West Leadership Academy Middle School accepted the challenge made by the High School the previous day. Principal Alex pledges to donate to cerebral palsy research.
This is an important message from West Leadership Academy: Construction projects have been delayed and will result in a delayed start to the school year and an adjustment to our first week schedule.
Our start date will be on Wednesday, August 27th for 6th and 9th grade. All 6th and 9th grade students are required to report to school from 7:45- 12:15.
Thursday, August 28th: ALL 6th and 9th grades will report as well as all High School 10th and 11th grade students.
Friday, August 29th: ALL 6th & 9th grades will report as well as Middle School 7th & 8th grade students. These are Mandatory Reporting days.
We will still have our Back to School Night on Thursday, August 28th from 5:00-7:00 pm. There is no school on Labor Day, September 1st. Tuesday, September 2nd is the first regular day for all students (7:45am – 3:15pm).
We appreciate your support with these schedule changes and look forward to showing you all the improvements! Please call the school at 720-423-5460 if you have any questions.
Mensaje importante para WLA . Por el retraso de las reparaciones de nuestra escuela el inicio de clases se ha cambiado.
Agosto 27 al 29 grados 6 y 9
El 28 de Agosto grados 10 y 11
El 29 de Agosto grados 7 y 8
El horario será de 7:45 am – 12:15 pm
Es obligatorio su asistencia
With the continued increase of educational apps and sites, educators are often asked by peers and families to recommend the best tools to help with summer learning. Brian Dino, DPS Technology Coordinator, has assembled a list of useful digital tools that encourage learning during the summer months. Click here to view the full list.
Educa Radio recently spoke with our very own Yunuen Cisneros (Parent Liaison) and several West Leadership Academy parents to learn what makes our school unique. Click here to listen to the interview!
West Leadership Academy’s (WLA) mission is to prepare every student for access to, and success in, college. Through a rigorous college-preparatory education, WLA empowers and prepares students to be agents of positive change in an increasingly diverse and multicultural society. Click here to learn about our leadership.
All Denver students are eligible to enroll in West Leadership Academy, with enrollment priority being given to students within the West Shared boundary. There are no admissions tests or assessments required for students to enroll at the academy, and families need only to fill out the standard Denver Public School SchoolChoice application to enroll. Click here to learn about our enrollment process.