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Pueblo’s first charter school thrives
Photo courtesy:

By Joshua Pilkington

Early College Program and high graduation rates
highlight Chavez-Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy’s success

When it launched in 2004, the Dolores Huerta Preparatory High in Pueblo was expected to be a place where education went further for high school students in Pueblo City Schools (District 60). Years into its second decade, the now combined Chávez-Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy has come through on its promise over the years offering a nationally-recognized brand of education while also being the only early college high school recognized by the Colorado Department of Education in Pueblo.

The high school was the brainchild of Lawrence and Annette Hernandez, who initially created it as an extension of the then K-8 Cesar Chavez Academy. Its appearance in 2004, marked the first charter high school in Pueblo County and its success led to both Dolores Huerta Preparatory High (DHPH) and Cesar Chavez Academy (CCA) forming the core of what was the Cesar Chavez School Network.

Under the guidance of Executive Director Henry Roman, DHPH and CCA joined to become Chavez Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy (CHPA). Since 2007, the accolades have been rolling in for DHPH including being recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best High School” in the Pueblo community. U.S. News and World Report gave the Best High School Bronze Award to CHPA for four consecutive academic years from 2007-2008 through 2012-2013.

Early College Program

Aside from the accolades, one of the things that sets CHPA apart from some other schools in Pueblo City Schools is its early college program. The program was introduced in 2006 and opened the door for students to enroll in collegiate level courses at Pueblo Community College as early as their freshman year of high school. Also forming part of the early college program is Colorado State University-Pueblo where students are also able to enroll for credits at no additional cost to the enrolled students.

Though the cost of textbooks for college credits is excluded through the early college program, DHPH reimburses those students up to $150 in textbooks. DHPH also offers a selection of textbooks for students to utilize at Pueblo Community College. Once students complete 60 college credits at Pueblo Community College, they can transfer their college credits to Colorado State University-Pueblo where they can begin their Bachelor’s Degree without facing the cost of tuition. Thanks in part to its early college program, DHPH has the highest number of students that graduate with their high school diploma and their Associate Degree.


The average student body in Colorado is made up primarily of White students (54.5 percent) with Hispanic students making up the largest minority population (33.1 percent). CHPA, however, has one of the largest Hispanic populations of any school in the state with 83.4 percent of the school’s 1,004 students. On the average, schools in Pueblo normally count a student body that is 65.5 percent Hispanic, making CHPA’s differing demographics even more Hispanic leaning. The remainder of the student body is 13.2 percent White with all other races and ethnicities making up the remaining 3.4 percent.

When it comes to students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch, CHPA also has a higher concentration than both Colorado and Pueblo. With 77.4 percent of the student body eligible for free or reduced lunch, CHPA is slightly higher than the Pueblo average of 68 percent and well above the state average of 41.6 percent.

Graduation Rates

In 2013 CHPA boasted a graduation rate of 92 percent. That rate has fallen slightly over the last three years, but still remains higher than the average graduation rate for Colorado during that time.

Over the last three years CHPA has obtained graduation rates of 87 percent (compared to the state rate of 77 percent). Comparatively, CHPA also has a higher graduation rate than the average for Pueblo No. 60 School District over the last three years (71 percent).

For more information on Chavez Huerta Preparatory Academy visit





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