St. Vrain 'super school' proposal in running for $10M grant

The St. Vrain Valley School District — plus two Boulder groups — are all waiting to find out if their ideas for a high school will win a $10 million grant from Laurene Powell Jobs' challenge.

Jobs, the widow of Apple's Steve Jobs, earlier this year promised to donate $50 million and issued a challenge — dubbed the XQ Super School Project — to communities to reimagine the American high school.

The winners are expected to be announced in August.

St. Vrain Valley wants to start an entrepreneurial focus program, with students working in teams to develop a business or product.

"We want to help students turn challenges into opportunities, to have all of the qualities that help someone have grit, stick with a project and see it through to the end," said Brandon Shaffer, St. Vrain's executive director of legal and governmental affairs.

To develop the proposal, St. Vrain put together a group of 15 educators, business leaders and community leaders that included Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs and Jessica Erickson, CEO of the Longmont Area Economic Development Partnership.

When asked what they want to see changed about high school, students focused on relevancy, Shaffer said.

"They want to understand why they're learning what they're learning," he said. "We want to bring in project-based learning and industry partners so they can see how they're learning can be applied in everyday life."

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