Goodbye Letter from Dr. Waters

December 15, 2015

Dear Denver South High School Community:

As we approach the end of the semester and I reflect on my tenure at Denver South High School, I am writing to say thank you for your support and commitment to making our school the best comprehensive high school in the State of Colorado during my four and a half years here!  I have enjoyed every day (some more than others) that I have served as principal because of my interactions with each and every one of you.  It is the people – the students, parents, staff, and community – that make Denver South High School a very special place.

Together, we have made tremendous progress in a variety of areas since 2011 and I’d like to share some of the highlights with you.  Our School Performance Framework (SPF) Rating improved significantly to Green, removing Denver South from being considered for school turnaround.  We have seen an overall enrollment increase of 300 students and have added 21 new teaching positions.  Below are some additional improvements from 2011 to 2015:

Academics and Instruction

  • Increased four-year graduation rate from 57.3% to 78.2% in 2014 (most recent data available)
  • Increased college-going culture, with 100% of students applying and being accepted to college, and over $21.4 million in scholarship awards including a National Merit and three Boettcher Scholars in 2015
  • Increased Advanced Placement courses from 13 to 21, AP enrollment from 174 to 389 students, and continued to improve passing rates
  • Increased number of students enrolled in Concurrent Enrollment college courses from 21 to 174
  • Increased expectations for graduation, making them higher than District requirements for science and social studies, and world language
  • Increased overall attendance rate from 88% to 92%, the highest rate of DPS comprehensive high schools in 2015
  • Added an 80 hour community service requirement at a recent Collaborative School Committee (CSC) meeting beginning with the class of 2020. Our intent is to instill the importance of service to others in all Rebels
  • Increased use of instructional technology, with each student being issued a personal tablet next school year in lieu of textbooks
  • Created numerous opportunities for teachers to serve as leaders, planning and leading professional development, and contributing to teacher performance evaluations while still teaching classes

Athletics and Activities

  • Increased expectations of student athletes for academics and attendance (higher than CHSSA and DPS requirements)
  • Competed in two state championship finals, and moved to state level competition in many sports including Denver South’s first ever appearance and placement in the state cheer finals last weekend
  • Added three new sports including boy’s swimming, girl’s lacrosse, softball, and added levels in many of our existing programs
  • Increased participation rate in over 65 different clubs or activities

Parent and Community Involvement

  • Engaged over 30 community partners who provide learning opportunities for our students both in and outside of the classroom
  • Developed strategic communication and marketing plans to inform current families and recruit future Rebels
  • Increased ELA parent involvement at both Denver South HS and in District initiatives
  • Expanded an extremely active PTSA that has raised over $30,000 for mini-teacher grants, hosted screenings of documentaries and panel discussions on education issues, and expanded our food bank to support over 80 students each week

Facility Improvements beyond major renovations provided by Bond and Mill Levy funding to create a better learning environment for our students and engage our community

  • Remodeled 4th floor lunchroom in Rebel colors to provide flexible eating and meeting space
  • Remodeled ceramics room and installed new kiln and pottery wheels
  • Painted and installed upgraded sound equipment in the Main Gym
  • Installed digital Denver South information sign funded by our PTSA and Alumni Association

Additionally, we have been able to showcase our success in the community, and over the years have been recognized by local, state and national government leaders, including Mayor Michael Hancock, Lieutenant Governor Joe Gracia and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet.  We hosted Bill and Melinda Gates to discuss our teacher leadership opportunities, former U.S. Secretary of State General Colin Powell who spoke of leadership with students and staff, and Maureen Dowd, Op-Ed columnist with The New York Times, who shared stories of her experiences as a writer.  These visits created provided opportunities for our students to interact with noted leaders and created greater visibility for our school.

As I consider these last several years and our progress, I think of each of the individuals who contributed to make Denver South HS a better place for all of our students!  I will miss the learning, the fun, and the relationships that have been created.  Thank you for letting me serve as your principal!

Kind regards,

Kristin E.Waters