As current students at DSST: Stapleton, we have heard families and friends mention many misconceptions about DSST schools. Three common misunderstood aspects of DSST include the academic environment, the supposed lack of athletic programs and creative opportunities, and the overall experience students will have. We hope to add our own voice to the conversation.
One of the most common misperceptions families have is that DSST has such a strict environment it is impossible for the students to have an enjoyable or exciting experience. The truth is that DSST sets expectations that hold students accountable and better prepares them for college. Although academics are a primary focus for the school, the core values are what truly shape the community. This creates a unique experience for students because it teaches them values that extend beyond the classroom.
A second misconception is that DSST lacks a variety of extracurricular activities. DSST Athletics is a thriving program that has gained a lot of momentum over such a short span of time. DSST: Stapleton High School has had success in Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball, Girls’ Volleyball, Tennis, Cross Country, Boys’ and Girls’ Soccer, and Boys’ Baseball. The same sports are offered in the middle schools, along with artistic clubs that range from acapella, to art club, to film, to creative writing. Most may not realize this, but DSST is overflowing with athletic and artistic talent, and students have aspirations in studying both science and the humanities.
Finally, many families worry that DSST cannot provide students with a traditional high school experience. It is true that DSST does not align with what many would consider a “typical” high school; however, the culture of the school allows students to thrive as individuals, something larger, traditional schools may not be able to provide.
We hope families and students take this letter into consideration when choosing a new middle school or high school. In addition to our most recent PARCC scores, for which all three of DSST’s high schools ranked among the top four high schools in DPS in both math and English, we truly believe DSST to be a great community for all.
—Ben Vandal and Lizzy Pulis, DSST: Stapleton 11th-graders