March 8, 2023

I hope everyone had a great start to the new year! Last week, my landlord sent me my apartment lease renewal form reminding me that I have been a Denverite for a year now. How time flies! It also harkened back to moving day when it was sunny in the morning and by the time my last piece of furniture was in place, it was gray and snowing. It said much of Denver, not just in terms of climate fluctuations, but also how unpredictable, dynamic and global this city is. Yes, all four seasons can be experienced within a 24 hour period!

A manageable urban city, Denver also has big opportunities and challenges of a large metropolis. Housing affordability, high crime rates, political tensions-these are issues we see in the headlines more often than we would want. And just like any other urban district, we also have our share of public education issues.

Growing up in Manila, I remember living in a city beset with a number of problems: pollution, population density, rising cost of living, and yes, public education was also struggling in the Philippines–troubled with budget issues, teacher shortages, and crumbling facilities, especially those in rural provinces. But as a kid (yes, that’s me, as a smiling student on the right), I also remember being excited about what we’d call “exam week”, which was often, about every other month!

But our community always knew it was exam week and everyone was aware how stressful it can be for young people. So the community made it less stressful. I remember going to ice cream parlors where we would get free ice cream cones, and was asked, “How did the test go?” Theaters offered free passes for a movie at the end of exam week. There would be signs on front doors: “Good luck on exam week!” or “You’ve got this!”

All of those little things meant a lot to me as a child. That community support and the message sent to me as a youngster was very clear: “Education is important and we know how hard you study, so we are here to offer support.”

Denver, we realize there are many challenges in our education structure today, but our students – and educators – need our full support. We need to cheer them on when the going gets tough, celebrate their achievements and triumphs, but also show that their effort is not left unrecognized.

On Tuesday, April 18, the DPS Foundation will hold its annual Achieve Gala at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center. We would love to see you there, cheering our students on (literally!) and paving the many paths that they may take towards success in whatever endeavor they choose. In fact, this year’s gala theme, A World of Possibilities, celebrates World Heritage Day and the diverse backgrounds our Denver students represent.

Let’s show our students that wherever they come from, whoever they are, whatever corner of the world they bring to our community, we cherish and celebrate them. Denver is their home, where they should feel nurtured and supported as they grow. So they’ll hopefully make the choice to stay here, work here, and flourish here. Just like you, me and so many before us.

In the spirit of working together to help our students realize their dreams,

Richard Anthony Tagle
President & CEO
Denver Public Schools Foundation