The STEAD School celebrates topping out of Colorado’s Nextgen Agriculture High School
The new School District 27J public charter high school in Commerce City, Colo., will transform the educational experience from listen and learn to experience and do.
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The STEAD School board of directors, including Co-Founders Kelly Leid, Oakwood Homes community operations and Amy Schwartz, BuildStrong Education executive director, Cal Fulenwider, representatives from DLR Group and Saunders Construction, along with some STEAD students and founding family members celebrated the topping out of the first building on the STEAD School L.C. Fulenwider Campus, on Thursday, April 29, 2021. The school, a new Science, Technology, Environment, Agriculture and Design learning environment, will use a blended education model that integrates project-based learning and career and technical education to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurially driven problem solves around animal, plant, food and environmental sciences. The public charter high school, which is a part of the School District 27J, broke ground in January 2021 and is expected to be complete just in time for the inaugural freshman class in fall 2021.
BuildStrong Education, an Oakwood Homes Foundation, championed the STEAD School. The school will offer students experiential learning through the use of hands-on materials, interdependent projects, cooperative learning, individualized lessons, internships and community service. Located in the Reunion neighborhood of Commerce City, the land was donated by the Fulenwider family, for whom the high school campus is named after. Once completed this fall, STEAD will provide education for 175 new freshmen, with a total capacity of 700 for all high school grades at full build-out.
“The STEAD School sits at a nexus of rural, suburban and urban space. That means we can bring students together from all these geographic environments to collaborate and learn from their surroundings and each other,” said Kelly Leid, executive vice president at Oakwood Homes and STEAD School co-founder. “This exploration-type learning will result in problem-solving and innovations that drive solutions on how to keep our planet sustainable.”
As the first building on the nearly 10-acre site, which will be built out in phases, will feature an open space learning environment across multiple pre-engineered buildings, that look and feel like barns, along with auxiliary specialty workshops and labs in support of “learning made real” experiences — representing nearly 3,000 possible career options for exploration.
“Climate change, water stewardship, conservation, responsible agriculture and technology are critical as we move forward,” said Cal Fulenwider, chairman/CEO, L.C. Fulenwider Inc., whose family donated the land for STEAD. “That’s what this school is all about. This school is a prototype — we have goals to expand this nationally, because we think that’s the responsibility that this generation has to future generations.”
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign SB 21-87, known as the Farm Workers Bill of Rights, though much of the content will be decided through the rulemaking process.