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A charter high school that eventually would accommodate 1,500 students is aiming for a fall 2015 opening. Backers of John Adams High School have signed a letter of intent to purchase the now-vacant Highlands Ranch campus of Denver Christian Schools, near C-470 and University Boulevard.
Denver Christian Schools consolidated its three campuses to a site in Lakewood earlier in 2014. Whether or not the Highlands Ranch purchase is successful, John Adams High proponents ideally seek to open their school in 2015, but said that may not happen until 2016.
John Carson, a former Douglas County School Board president and a University of Colorado Boulder regent candidate, is among the high school's eight board members. Its vice president, Jason Sanders, founded the K-8 Ben Franklin Academy, also in Highlands Ranch.
Board president and elementary charter school parent Matt Krol said Sanders first proposed the idea a few years ago.
“We felt the next biggest need was a charter high school in this county,” said Krol. “Our goal is to take the education children are learning from different charter schools and have an overall rigorous curriculum that prepares them for college.”
About 9,000 children attend the district's 12 charter schools, only two of which offer secondary education. They are STEM and SkyView Academy, both in Highlands Ranch. But Krol said those schools can't accommodate students graduating from the various charter schools in the county.
“Those students have gone for years in a charter school experience,” Krol said. “A lot of students and parents are going to be faced with the decision of, `Where do we go now?'”
Carson, who said board members invited him to join their effort, also believes the school would fill a gap in Douglas County.
“Having a charter high school for Douglas County is a huge area of need and demand I've noticed over the years,” he said. “We have a lot of charter elementaries, but if folks want to continue on the charter track, they've really got to go out of the district.”
Krol said John Adams' emphasis would be different from that of DCSD's traditional public high schools. The board plans to hire a high number of college-focused guidance counselors. Its goal is to ensure every student is accepted to at least one four-year college or university.
“We're going to provide that rigorous college preparatory environment,” he said. “We're going to have more college counselors on staff. As soon as (students) walk through the door, they will meet monthly with college counselors. They'll make sure the program they're developing is keeping them on the right path.
“We'll have a curriculum that will lead them to advanced placement courses. Our goal is to have at least 90 percent of students take at least three advanced placement courses before they graduate.”
John Adams High will offer “all the normal high school experiences,” Krol said, including athletic programs, dances and clubs.
The board has not yet decided if students will be required to wear uniforms.
The 15-acre Denver Christian School site on Dad Clark Drive has football, baseball and soccer fields, and room for future expansion.
Krol said the school's name was chosen because of founding father and second U.S. president John Adams' character and accomplishments.
John Adams likely would open with 350 freshmen and 150 sophomores, expanding to 1,500 students by 2017.
“We have over 1,600 intent-to-enroll (completed forms) right now,” Krol said. “Judging by that number alone, there are a lot of families that feel there's a need for this.”
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