Denver’s School for the 21st Century

Joann Gonchar:

On a 10-acre parcel at the southern edge of the master-planned community that is emerging on the site of Denver’s former Stapleton International Airport, educators at an unusual high school are working to provide its diverse student body with a rigorous science, math, and technology focused liberal arts education.
The Denver School of Science & Technology (DSST) is not a neighborhood school, however. Few of its 400 students are Stapleton residents. DSST is a public charter school that admits students from the entire metropolitan area by lottery only. Low-income students make up at least 40 percent of each class, and at least 45 percent are girls. All are expected to attend four-year colleges, despite varying degrees of academic preparation before high school.
To house the ambitious program, officials imagined a building “where kids could feel good about coming to school and about being involved in the sciences,” says David Ethan Greenberg, DSST founder and member of its board of directors. The school’s architect, klipp, responded with a colorful building made up of a pleasing collection of different sized volumes clad in brick, stucco, and metal. The facility opened in January 2005, after DSST spent is first semester of operation in temporary quarters at a parochial school.