Design Thinking Meets Pitch Competition Creates New Programs for DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School Students

DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School After The Succeeds Prize

When you walk down the halls of DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School, you will see pennants from various colleges and universities above the lockers. Students and teachers excitedly greet each other in the hallway. Under the leadership of School Director Jenna Kalin, the commitment to student success is clear.

The inaugural Transformational Impact Award Winner for the High School category for The Succeeds Prize, DSST: Green Valley Ranch High School stands out when you assess the school data and on-site culture. Since the lively event announcement in 2017, DSST: GVR HS has celebrated their success with a school design thinking process to determine how to spend their $15,000 prize.

“We felt that it was our whole school community that earned the prize and the award and so we wanted to really deeply share that with our school community,” said Kalin.

There were over 20 proposals submitted from the school community and it came down to a pitch competition with the top six ideas. Students could also apply to be on the selection committee with Kalin and other faculty. There were four final projects that received funding: an after-school robotics club, a recording studio, the “Barista Bar” run by special needs students, and heavy investment in equipment for the theater program.

In a student-led tour of the new additions, staff from Colorado Succeeds had the opportunity to learn about the impact of the new additions. “We’ve been able to learn a lot because we don’t have to borrow equipment – working with the lights and we have our own soundboard now… It was tougher than we thought, but it was a lot of fun,” said Julie, a student at DSST:GVR HS.

The students continue to talk confidently about how the school sets them up for college and embraces their interests if there are other post-secondary plans.

“This isn’t just for now this is for your future and whether or not you choose to go to college or get a job after high school you have to hold yourself accountable,” said Jeffrey, student at DSST:GVR HS.

The Succeeds Prize is an annual celebration of educators in Colorado. Presented by Colorado Succeeds, mindSpark Learning, and 9News – the event seeks to highlight and reward the transformational impact and excellence in schools across the state. Supported by the business leaders in Colorado, Kalin reflected on how that plays a role in what she does every day.

“I think we share a desire with the business community to have our students thrive in Colorado. It’s really neat to see the business community invest in students because you know students in our school right now are going to be the professionals and leaders in our community when they pursue their next steps.”

Vice President of Government Affairs
Colorado Succeeds