Denver Online High School’s Commitment to Black Excellence

Please see the below message from Principal Ian Jones.

As we leave the month of January behind, I hope that you will step into February with a lens on the celebration of Black History Month! While all American history is also Black history, during the month of February, we seek to highlight, recognize and honor the contributions of Black Americans throughout history.

It is important that, as a school (and greater society), we truly dive into a reflection on the challenges, triumphs, contributions and continued work to ensure that we continue the work of analyzing the systems, breaking down the barriers and truly understanding the perspectives of Americans who have, for many years, been held back by injustice and racial disparities that persist in our country. The DPS Board of Education enacted the Black Excellence Resolution in February 2019 and has committed to creating learning environments to push for the success and excellence of our Black students, not by accident, but by design.

As a team, Denver Online is committed to doing better on behalf of our Black students. This year, we committed, as a team, to personal reflection, analysis of our learning environments and school culture, and making the shifts necessary to better support the needs, aspirations and excellence of our Black students. Over the next several months and years, our team at Denver Online will continue to push ourselves to get better at designing courses where our Black students will see reflections of themselves, engaging in conversations with our Black families to ensure authentic and impactful actions, and to ensure that our Black students have the opportunities available to them to reach their personal excellence.

Amanda Gorman’s poem from a few weeks ago at the Inauguration resonates with me. As a community, much like American society, Denver Online stills has a “hill to climb” as we must seek the perspectives, engage in the important conversations, and ensure that we undertake the “unfinished” work that is still left to do in service of our students and our community. While I post this message on the first day of Black History Month and may feel performative, please understand that this is intended as a beginning, not of a month, but of a continued commitment to shifting our focus and practices to ensure that our Black students have the knowledge, tools and perspectives to fully live their excellence and “see” themselves at Denver Online and that their lives and futures truly matter.