DENVER — Arrupe Jesuit High School is proposing a $46 million expansion and renovation of its campus in northwest Denver that will include new classrooms, an updated STEM center, guidance offices, and a new cafeteria and gymnasium.
The high school opened in 2003 with the mission of preparing students for opportunities through academics and a work-study program in partnership with local businesses.
The campus has gone through several alterations over the past two decades. Each time, the goal has been to improve the way the school delivers its mission and to increase the number of students.
“With all those improvements, we can drive enrollment to 500 students,” said Michael O’Hagan, Arrupe Jesuit High School president. “We can make sure that academically, our graduates can continue to excel in college, and we can continue to be value added in our work-study placements.”
The high school has a graduation rate of more than 95%, with 82% of graduates going on to college. O’Hagan said the improvements will create even more opportunities for families in need.
“Our free and reduced lunch number is right around 80%,” O’Hagan said. “So the families that we serve are living on the margins and in the midst of some pretty challenging circumstances, and programmatically, we’re designed to meet those needs.”
Right now, the school has an enrollment of about 420 students. O’Hagan said they’re hoping the improvements will allow them to increase enrollment by 2027 to continue their tradition of high school and post-secondary success.
“We know that a student enrollment of 500 allows us to expand opportunities to families we’re not currently serving,” O’Hagan said. “We’ve graduated almost 1,300 students. More than 70% of them are the first in their families to graduate high school. More than 93% of them are the first in their families to go on to college.”
Anevaeh Cordova, an incoming freshman, said academic support is one of the reasons why she chose to go to attend Arrupe Jesuit and that she’s excited about the idea of the school expanding.
“I like the teachers," she said. "I like the staff. … They help me understand a lot, and they're easy to communicate with. The fact that they’re helping grow more and to make it better, I think that’s pretty cool. I’m pretty excited to see that in the four years.”
Cristina Ramirez Bermudez, a senior who's graduating in May, said she thinks the additions will be an improvement for students.
“The first thing that went through my mind is that I was a little jealous,” Ramirez Bermudez said, jokingly. “I think it’s a great idea to bring more students here so they can prepare for their future here, and I think it brings a lot more opportunities for students to participate in clubs, participate in sports, and it brings a lot more open space where students feel more comfortable in a welcoming and good environment.”
The school said it has raised about half of the $46 million needed to start construction, which they hope to start in the spring or early summer next year. The hope is to level the playing field for their students to succeed after high school.
“We realized that we just didn’t have the space that we needed, so the construction project is really the vital element of the whole strategic plan,” O’Hagan said. “Our confidence and our need for that expansion is rooted in the success of our students for over 20 years.”
For more information about Arrupe Jesuit High School’s expansion campaign, click here.
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