Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Students Present World-Changing Solutions

Posted 12/01/2015 by Evan Gould

photo courtesy of Eric Perry

Spartans win the People’s Choice Award at the 5280 challenge at Coors Field.

On November 5th, the TJ Leadership program participated in the 5280 Challenge (previously known as the Aspen challenge) at Coors Field. The 5280 Challenge is a competition in which 20 different Denver Public Schools represented by a group of students are given a challenge to benefit their school and community. This year, Spartan leaders including seniors Matisen Perez, Blaise Hokkanen, Maddy Jacobsen, Nathan Waterhouse, Henry Cooper, Shaday Roberts, and juniors Alex Tate and Aminah Nomin were presented with the Anthony Grimes challenge on restorative justice.

The Anthony Grimes project challenged TJ leadership to work within the school, neighborhood, and community to build a model to address crime. The group did several different things in order to complete their challenge. First, they changed the pass room into a tutoring center, as it will now have computers and other resources for students. “We did this because it will provide a better learning environment,” explained senior Waterhouse. Students sent to the passroom numerous times will now be required to complete a restorative justice course through SHMOOP. “This is a great addition to our school because it will give the students something legitimate to do instead of just sitting and thinking about their actions,” said Principal Suzanne Morris- Sherer. In addition to that, they have also formed the ESM (Every Spartan Matters) Panel that consists of the eight leadership students that will be making decisions for consequences of student behavior. “This gives the students a voice which is very important to us,” explained Perez. The panel allows for students to better the community instead of just sitting and thinking about their actions. Finally, they created the Spartan Buddy Program. This program will match an underclassman with an upperclassman and they will help each other out with schoolwork and other daily issues.

After all of their hard work, the Spartans presented their ideas and intentions to a panel of seven judges. “They did a great job with their presentation. They had a great script and a video that really showed the demographics of TJ,” said leadership teacher Eric Perry. As a result, they were awarded with the People’s Choice Award. “Thank you to everyone who voted. We could not have won without you guys,” said Perez. The 5280 Challenge was a success for the TJ Leadership program, and they will continue to come up with new ideas to make TJ a better place for students, faculty, and the community. “TJ leadership builds leaders who have intelligent and knowledgeable ideas,” said Morris- Sherer. For those who are interested in making a difference, talk to a counselor about joining Leadership in the future, or click here to learn more about the 5280 Challenge.