Science is essential every day at the Aurora School on the Anschutz Medical Campus

AURORA • This is not what you would otherwise expect to see in a classroom, but Aurora Science and Tech is not a normal school.

On Monday morning, an eighth-grade classroom practiced emergency first aid on fake hands as part of a hands-on lesson given by nurses at the Anschutz Medical Campus on how to stop bleeding.

It is the kind of interactive education that high school is proud of as part of its mission to make its careers in STEM and health fields tangible for students. From next year, the school will accept ninth-grade students, as well as part of its four-year expansion into 6th-12th grade school.

Aurora Science and Tech (AST) is a charter school run by the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) network in the Aurora Public School District, and is physically located on the campus of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

It is one of only six schools in the country located on the main medical campus.

The school was launched in 2019 as a 6th to 8th grade school, and over the next four years it will add a grade each year to build its high school curriculum. As part of the expansion, construction of a new building will begin in about a month and should be completed by autumn 2023.

The high school students will then be transferred to the new building, and the high school will be evicted from the existing structure on Scranton Street.

The school intends for AST High School to be a feeder in the high school curriculum, but students will also be able to enter at the high school level. Enrollment is conducted through a lottery system, with students living in the area immediately around campus and then students living within the APS boundaries having first and second priority.

The high school has about 450 students. At full capacity, the high school will have 600 to 700 students, said Kryszelda Mendoza, who will serve as high school principal. The district enrolls 160 students in its ninth grade class, and 145 places go to current eighth grade AST students.

One of those students is eighth grader Ivan Shigeta, who is looking forward to being part of the first grade of AST in the fall. She said she likes the school because of the unique learning environment and inclusive culture.

At AST, “I can always be who I am,” Shigeta said.

The construction of the new building will cost $ 16 million, said Jill Ruiter, executive director of the APS Foundation. The project is a public-private partnership, and part of the funds come from the selection of Aurora 2016 bonds that founded the school, and part of the funds come from philanthropic donors.

“The community is gathering around this idea of ​​STEM education,” Ruiter said.

UCHealth has contributed $ 250,000 to the project, and the school plans to work closely with professors from Anschutz, who will give guest lectures and give students the opportunity to visit many different parts of the hospital and see how things they learn in the classroom can translate into a career.

What makes us happiest is that our ninth graders will be old enough to participate in some of the labs and enter some of the facilities they were too young for in sixth grade, so I really want to make this partnership dynamic so kids experience science and can is to be seen on campus, ”Mendoza said.

The high school will have a particularly strong focus on biosciences, with the aim of helping students prepare for higher education in health care or give them the skills they need to enter the industry immediately after graduation, such as enabling a phlebotomy certificate back in high school.

The UCHealth donation helped create the school’s science and innovation lab, where students had a “stop the bleeding” lesson. The laboratory will be used for various practical activities and experiments under the guidance of UCHealth employees.

Dr. Jean Kutner, chief medical officer at the University of Colorado Hospital and a member of the DSST school board, said hospital colleges are “so excited” about the partnership with the school.

With the healthcare industry experiencing a shortage of workers across the country, Kutner said she hopes the school will help inspire students to pursue careers in the field.

APS Superintendent Rico Munn said the school is responding to the Aurora community’s desire for a closer partnership with CU Anschutz and more workforce-focused educational opportunities.

“It’s important to have our children physically on campus because they see it as a reality and a real option in their community,” he said.

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