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May 2015 • Online Edition

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Denver Christian Says Farewell – And Denver Waldorf Returns To S. Denver | Print |  E-mail

by Ed Schott

One of south Denver’s oldest academic institutions is pulling up stakes just two years before its 100th anniversary, and heading west.

Denver Christian Schools, founded in 1916 by members of our city’s pioneering Dutch community, has vacated its longtime campus at 2135 S. Pearl St. to move lock, stock, students and staff to a much larger new home in the Academy Park section of Lakewood.

The move allows DCS to combine its S. Pearl St., Van Dellen (4100 E. Warren Ave.), and Highlands Ranch facilities into a single, K-12 campus on 20.7 acres. Director of Academics, Lynda Micikas explained that while the new campus at 3898 S. Teller St. – larger than all three existing locations combined – is often described as “an office park,” the 270,000-square-foot complex was previously used for adult education and has numerous existing classrooms, a college-style lecture hall and a “mini-auditorium.” Micikas said plans are in place for construction of a full-sized auditorium and two gymnasiums, with the first gym slated to be ready “by basketball season” this fall. DCS finished out the current school year in late May, with the first day of school in their new environs set for Sept. 2.

 “It’s fair to say the move has been more of a challenge for some families than others,” said Micikas. “Some will probably not go with us because the drive is too long, or the logistics of mom and dad working make the extra travel time difficult. Change is challenging but we appreciate the prayers and support we have gotten from all concerned.

“It’s going to be very interesting and a blessing to finally have all three campuses together,” she said. “The physical separation has made being one community difficult. Having a single presence is bound to give us a much stronger sense of the whole of DCS than we’ve had in years.”

Just retired CEO Ray Boersema, serving as transition coordinator during the relocation effort, explained that DCS started its tenure as a K-8 program in a building at S. Clarkson St. and Florida Ave. (demolished in 2004 and redeveloped as townhomes), where it remained until 1950 when construction was completed on the S. Pearl St. building and grades 9-11 were added. The first high school graduating class received diplomas at a ceremony held in the spring of 1953.

In the late 1950s, notes Boersema, Denver Christian bought a building at 4100 E. Warren Ave. – known as the Van Dellen campus – that provided additional space for students in grades K-6. The Highlands Ranch facility, also K-6, was added in the late 1980s.

Boersema is energized by the new partnerships already germinating with other academic institutions in the southwest area. “That area is ripe for this kind of school (DCS),” he said. “Mullen is down the street on Hampden Ave. and S. Lowell Blvd.; Colorado Academy is on S. Pierce and we’re on Teller. That’s quite a concentration of good schools.”

While many families bemoan the loss of Denver Christian, the good news is that education will continue uninterrupted on S. Pearl St. In a stroke of coincidence, Denver Waldorf School – which took over the original DCS building on S. Clarkson St. from 1977 to 2003 before moving north to 940 Fillmore St., in Congress Park – has purchased the DCS property, and expects to open the doors to their new S. Pearl St. campus on Aug. 29.

The new building’s 80,000-plus square feet of useable space doubles the size of Waldorf’s current facility, providing the ability for the school to grow both their programs and their student population, currently at 363.

DWS spokeswoman Leigh Rhysling told The Profile, “It’s an exciting time for Denver Waldorf School. The new building provides dedicated performing arts space, a gymnasium, science labs, formal library and a large outdoor recreation area.” Rhysling said the main thrust of an expanded student body would be to eventually increase the high school census from its current level of 63 students to “80-100. Still a small high school, but a significantly bigger social community.” Construction has already begun on interior modifications as well as the addition of a new roof.

“It really feels like a homecoming for us,” said Rhysling. “We remember our time in Platt Park very well, and can’t wait to start our next chapter.”

To learn more about Denver Christian Schools, visit denverchristian.org or call 303-733-2421. For info about Denver Waldorf School, call 303-777-0531 or visit denverwaldorf.org.

(Editor’s note: As The Profile went to press, Sewall Child Development Center was under contract to purchase the DWS site at 940 Fillmore St.)

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