When students head back to school this month they will be assigned desks, lockers, homework and in the case of Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver, jobs.
One of the most unique high schools in Colorado, Arrupe Jesuit prepares its students for the future not only through academics, but through an intense work study program that puts them in the workplace one day a week at a young age and gives them a feel for an 8-5 schedule at over 130 area businesses.
“Every student works freshman through senior,” said Tom Mallary, corporate work study program director in a promotional video. “The students work basically an 8-5 job. We transport the students there in the morning and we pick them up roughly eight hours later in the afternoon, so it’s a very full day in the workplace.”
Among the businesses students can work at are law firms, health centers, banks, government offices and nonprofits.
“The corporate work study program has helped me grow into a bigger person and it’s helped me experience new experiences that I’ve never had,” said Ashley Espinoza-Mendoza, a graduate from Arrupe Jesuit’s Class of 2017. “I have a resume…at the age of 14, I built up a resume.”
With a slender student population of 420 students (per the 2017-18 academic year demographic data provided), Arrupe Jesuit has the time and ability to focus on their student’s individual performance while molding leaders for tomorrow, which has led to high graduating rates and success after high school.
“I don’t think our people have jobs. I think they have a mission,” said Principal Michael O’Hagan. “The service of a mission requires an investment. It requires commitment and dedication. It requires sacrifice.”
He added that through the work study program, students get a glimpse of the future and the opportunity to guide their own eduction toward the field that they want to excel in.
“Our students can see a version of the future they didn’t know existed,” O’Hagan said. “The partnership with the business community in Denver offers more meaningful opportunity - opportunity for the future, for the future of those kids, for their families, and for the city.”
Of the 420 students enrolled last year, 93 percent were Hispanic with the remaining seven percent coming from African-American, Caucasian, Asian or Native American backgrounds. Among the Class of 2018, 94 percent were the first in their family to attend college and 55 percent were the first in their family to graduate high school.
“Arrupe brings together the cultural, the corporate, the social differences in society,” said Fr. Drew Kirschman, SJ the Parent Network Coordinator at Arrupe Jesuit. “This is a place where your voice matters, where that conversation can happen and where we can work together. We’re not simply an institution interested in their academic formation; it’s the whole person.”
With a constantly increasing cost of living in Denver, Arrupe Jesuit has also proven to be an institution that does not gouge its student body - or their parents - through heightened tuition fees; instead the school regularly offers financial aid to accepted students to offset the cost of tuition. In 2018, 93 percent of the student body received financial aid.
A good part of that ability to help out a student body that comes from homes where the median income for a family is just under $36,000, comes from donations.
“You have the chance to make a difference in a student’s life, in a family’s life, in generations for the future’s lives, said Kirschman of the mutual benefit of donating.
O’Hagan added that the communal support is reciprocal.
“You want a better Denver? Arrupe helps to build it,” he said. “Your support, your belief in our school, your belief in our kids…you own that success and we thank you for it. And we just ask you to keep believing in our kids, to keep supporting them and to keep supporting the school.”
For more information on Arrupe Jesuit High School including enrollment, financial aid and donation opportunities visit www.arrupejesuit.com.