Parents want the best for their children. From feeding them healthy food to grow up big and strong to dressing them warmly to stave off the cold in the winter, you’re there to keep your children safe and help them grow up.
Now that your child is older, food and clothing are still priorities, but suddenly you have to make (and help your children make) some particularly important decisions. Decisions that will have an impact on the rest of their lives.
Chief among them is the decision of where to attend high school.
In Denver, there are a range of private and public schools to choose from. Certainly, each school has its strengths, but it can be overwhelming to understand those strengths and how they may apply to your son or daughter, and particularly your child’s high school experience.
Choosing the right high school can impact the trajectory of your child’s life.
Making the right high school decision for your son or daughter will directly impact their preparedness and eagerness to attend college or university. The sports, clubs, and/or arts they pursue during their four years of high school will impact their adult paths in school and in life.
Academics are a priority for all high schools, whether you are looking at Denver private schools or public schools. While they are a priority everywhere; however, how academics are prioritized, and how schools structure academics, can impact your child’s readiness for college.
In the following chapters here, we’ll examine the differences between Denver private schools and public schools, and we’ll help you make the critical decision between them. Should you have any specific questions about Lutheran High while reading this eBook, please feel free to visit our website at www.lhsparker.org or call us at (303) 841-5551.
As a bustling, growing metropolitan community that ranks among the top 25 in the United States, it’s no surprise that Denver has a wealth of private school options for families. Private schools have been teaching and encouraging students for many years, and remain popular with families due to their tradition of providing an exceptional academic and social experience for students.
Lutheran High School first opened its doors in 1955, with an enrollment of 49 freshmen and 28 sophomores. Twenty-eight graduates received their diplomas at LuHi’s first commencement in 1958, and we became accredited by the State of Colorado in 1961. Lutheran High School is built on the history and tradition of both Denver Lutheran High School and Lutheran High School Parker. The legacy of both schools are honored at the current campus. As of the 2018-2019 Academic year, our current enrollment includes 600 students.
Among private schools in Denver, there are several different categories (please note, these lists are not exhaustive, but offer a sampling of the schools available):
With so many options among Denver private schools, it can be difficult for parents and their children to differentiate between them! This page will continue to examine the main facets of a rewarding, enriching, and ultimately successful high school education, highlighting how Denver private schools (and in particular, Lutheran High) provides an exceptional high school experience for students.
Although these are just one aspect of a successful education, we proudly share these statistics with prospective parents and students. At LuHi, we have a:
Our 100% graduation rate at Lutheran High contrasts sharply with the 70.2% graduation rate announced by Denver Public Schools in January 2019.
The Denver Public School district credits its official beginning to the opening of the “Union School” in 1859. As Denver grew, the school district grew with it, expanding into multiple districts in 1882. Today, there are 207 schools in the Denver Public School district serving more than 93,000 students.
According to Niche.com, a site that combines reviews and statistical analysis to grade and rank school districts, Denver Public Schools earned a grade of C+ (we are proud to state that Lutheran High has received a grade of ‘A’ on the site).
More specifically, LuHi is located in Parker, which is a part of Douglas County School District (DCSD). DCSD was formed in 1958 by combining 17 smaller school districts across the area.
DCSD has a 90.8% graduation rate (compared to 100% at Lutheran High and 70.2% at Denver Public Schools). This is the highest graduation rate among public school districts in the Denver area. Douglas County School District is the third largest school district in Colorado, with more than 68,000 students. In its ratings, Niche awarded DCSD an overall grade of B+.
There are two (2) types of schools within the umbrella of public schools:
Although both are public schools, there are some notable differences between the two.
Prospective students must apply to charter schools. Their unique system and curricula is a desirable choice for some parents in lieu of traditional public schools, and as a result, demand for enrollment often exceeds the number of spaces available.
Although students apply, charter schools cannot refuse students altogether. If admissions demand exceeds the number of student openings, charter schools use a lottery system to determine who will receive admission. This differs considerably from standard public schools, where students simply register to attend.
Aside from the state-mandated curriculum, you will often find that the variety of electives and college-level courses varies widely between charter schools. If you are considering a charter school for your child, it is important to conduct specific research in order to ensure the availability of courses that may be important to your child.
Charter schools do not adhere to the district wide bureaucracy of district public schools.
Instead, they are typically operated by a group of parents, teachers, or community members.
When you are considering and ultimately making the decision of where your child will attend high school, there are many factors at play. Some of those are emotional -- you have researched and visited multiple schools, and you feel in your heart that one school is the best possible choice for your child. But while emotions absolutely come into play, for many families, the logistical elements are particularly important. Some logistical factors to consider include the following:
One logistical element to consider is the location. Is the school of your choice within a short drive or even a walk from your home?
If the chosen high school for your child isn’t within walking distance or a daily commute isn’t possible, it’s then important to determine whether your preferred high school choice offers transportation for students.
At Lutheran High, roughly ⅔ of our students live within a 20-minute drive to campus. For those students requiring transportation to and from campus, we have multiple transportation options to ensure they arrive safely every morning. Specifically, we offer shuttle transportation to and from school from four (4) different locations, including:
Peace with Christ Christian School
3290 S. Tower Rd., Aurora 80013
Leaves the parking lot at 7:00 a.m. and returns after school
Lord of the Hills Lutheran Church
21755 Smoky Hill Rd, Aurora CO 80015
Leaves at 7am and returns after school.
Castle Rock (Chili's - by Castle Rock Outlet Mall)800 New Memphis Ct, Castle Rock, 80108
Leaves the parking lot by the Castle Rock outlet malls at 7:00 a.m. and returns after school.
St. John's Lutheran School700 S Franklin St, Denver, 80209
Leaves the parking lot at 7:00 a.m. and returns after school.
Shepherd of the Hills Christian School
7691 S University Blvd, Centennial, CO 80122
Leaves the parking lot at 7:05 a.m.
We also offer a carpool option through SchoolPool, and students with a valid driver’s license (not learner’s permits) are welcome to drive to school and park on campus (no fee or parking permit needed).
For parents with multiple children attending different schools, the logistics of location and transportation can be especially important. Crossing town to drop off kids at two or even three different schools can require a significant amount of time and resources. As a result, the stress of criss crossing town each day may be a barrier to choosing a specific private high school for your child.
If one or more of your children attend a specific school, you may then decide that it’s best for your other child to attend that same school. Or if you have younger children attending different schools, the proximity of those schools to each other can come into play.
Identifying potential transportation roadblocks or conveniences early in your decision-making process can be especially helpful to save you time and energy when weighing your options between Denver private school and public schools.
If you, your spouse, or another family member is an alumnus of a particular Denver private school or public school, you may wish for your child to attend that same school. Some families have a rich history of allegiance toward one particular school or another. While that allegiance and history is important; however, it is also important to weigh that allegiance against other important factors that will impact your son or daughter’s education, college preparation, and ultimately their choices later in life.
Parents who research high school choices for their children weigh many factors in order to make the best possible decisions. In many cases, class size ranks highly among those factors. For parents who are considering private schools, there is often a profound difference in class size versus public schools.
Research has found that students who are in smaller classes perform better in all subjects and on all assessments than their peers who are in larger classes. Here at LuHi, our average class size of 25 students strikes the perfect balance of teachers to students. As we continue to grow, our commitment to that smaller class size will always remain so that we can provide the best learning environment for our students.
Why do smaller class sizes matter? Here are some of our most powerful core benefits of smaller class sizes:
Stronger relationships between faculty and students.
The relationship between teacher and student has such a profound impact on both of their lives. Every member of the faculty and staff at Lutheran High is personally invested in the success of our students. Smaller class sizes facilitate stronger relationships between students and teachers, nurturing that commitment.
Our teachers love feeling stronger connections to students, and feel powerfully invested in their students’ success. Students feel supported throughout their high school journeys. We believe strongly this is a winning approach, as well as the right way to prepare tomorrow’s leaders.
To coincide with smaller classes and the flexibility they provide, teachers also use flexibility in their teaching methods to include technological advancements and hybrid teaching styles to provide a strong learning environment for all students.
Increased ability to get extra help where needed.
Teachers love smaller class sizes, because they often facilitate better discussions and activities. They also prefer smaller class sizes because fewer students means more opportunity to observe students and provide extra assistance where needed.
Students who need extra help may not always ask for it. But when teachers have the ability to build stronger relationships inside and outside the classroom, they can proactively identify and provide support for any academic challenges facing students.
More opportunity to participate in class discussions.
We believe in providing opportunities for every student to participate without fear or undue “competition” for the attention of a teacher. In larger classroom environments, it can be difficult for students to participate in class discussions when they are competing with 30 or more other students. If your son or daughter is shy or introverted, the stress of trying to cut through the noise and competition to contribute may shut them out altogether.
Conversely, smaller classroom sizes help coax the best out of students who would otherwise prefer to “hide” among their peers in larger classrooms. Here at LuHi, students don’t “skate through” classes. We provide a safe, nurturing environment that simultaneously challenges students.
This environment can have a detrimental effect on grades due to lack of participation, but also on student self esteem, which can continue through college and beyond.
Sometimes, the journey through elementary and middle school is a bit of a grind for students. As a result, many parents simply hopes their children “survive” high school. We frequently hear this feedback from tired, frustrated parents whose children have spent years in the public school system.
At LuHi, we have a greater vision. “If we put students in the right environment surrounded by the right people where culture matters and Christian worldview is taught, God will work through them,” says Executive Director Dan Gehrke. “I’m amazed at their faiths and I’m amazed at what they accomplish.”
Our culture is defined by our core values:
LuHi teachers do not take a “one-size-fits-all” teaching approach. Each teacher tailors his or her methods to the students and their specific needs. They help them own and analyze information for themselves, rather than simply regurgitating it back.
Our teachers facilitate interactive discussions in every classroom. As a result, students learn to think critically and develop a well-informed perspective on issues they will face professionally and personally later in life.
At LuHi, we consider our students, staff and faculty to be a family. Therefore, we choose to respond to each other like a family in good times and bad. That means we celebrate awards and achievements at events like the Senior Blessings night. We cheer on our fellow students during athletic competitions. And that’s just the beginning.
By providing a highly relational environment for our students, we also demonstrate and encourage emotional growth by working through conflict with love. Expectations are clear for each student. There will be mistakes, but we all do our part in love to maintain healthy, Christ-like respect in our relationships.
LuHi beliefs are rooted in God’s Word, and those beliefs are expressed in many ways. Students take at least four (4) Theology classes and can participate in Worship Class to lead Chapels. The entire student body attends chapel to worship three times a week.
In the early stages of researching and considering high schools for your child, it’s important to outline and consider what type of culture is important to you (and will be best for your child).
Some cultural factors to consider when choosing between Denver private schools and public schools for your child include:
Certainly, cost is in many cases the number one factor when parents are choosing between Denver private schools and public schools. Regardless of the specific private school you may choose for your child, some sort of financial investment is required.
The biggest difference most parents notice between private and public schools is funding. In most cases, public schools are funded by taxes, which means they are ultimately funded by the public. School tax dollars pay for a majority of the education costs these schools (and students/parents) incur while providing educational opportunities to their students.
Private schools are typically funded by tuition payments, fundraisers/donations, and endowments. Almost all private schools in the United States hold “nonprofit” status, which means their primary focus is on students and providing a quality education.
While private schools do require a tuition investment from families, many schools (including Lutheran High) offer tuition assistance and scholarship programs to help families afford a private education for their children. Although the exact percentage varies from year to year, in general about half of all Lutheran High Students receive scholarships or tuition assistance in order to attend.
Many of our student families have two working parents who are stretched thin to make ends meet. You may find yourself in a similar situation, with fear that tuition payments would put your family on the financial brink. That’s why LuHi offers a range of resources to help families afford a private education for their child. When families complete a FACTS application, we can determine the exact assistance amount available for your child.
From there, we’ll meet to finalize plans for your child’s education and the financial investment required. We also help identify outside financial opportunities to help fund your child’s private school education, including:
Although it may seem that attendance at Denver public schools is “free,” that isn’t necessarily the case, and merits some consideration when factoring finances into the decision between Denver public schools and private schools.
While exact costs will vary from school to school, additional fees and costs incurred for students of public schools can include technology fees, field trip fees, club t-shirts and trips, extensive school supplies, and more. While contemplating the decision between Denver private schools and public schools, you may want to call the specific public school you’re considering and ask about additional costs that may come up during the year so that you can accurately budget and compare.
When considering financial factors, it’s also important to reflect upon college financial assistance for graduates of private schools compared to those of public schools. At Lutheran High, our students are offered considerably more scholarship money than those students who attend public schools in Douglas County.
Most recently, Lutheran High students received 300% more scholarship funds than students who attended Douglas County public schools.
Considering the short- and long-term financial impact of your choice in Denver private schools versus public schools can help you make the best possible choice for your child.
When comparing academics between Denver private schools and public schools, there are several different elements to consider. As far as curriculum, public school curricula is carefully defined by state laws. While private schools still adhere to state requirements in core areas, they often exercise some flexibility in the coursework they offer to students.
If stronger academic support and performance are major factors in your decision between Denver private schools and public schools, be sure to look for an accredited private school. Accreditation is only bestowed upon schools that meet the most stringent requirements, which will give you peace of mind that your child is pursuing academics and receiving academic support at the highest level.
Flexibility in curriculum allows private schools to provide a range of options for students to explore and define their academic interests. The ability to test out new areas of study at Lutheran High is one of many excellent ways our students are prepared for college. Their ability to take a more flexible approach to academic curriculum also helps our students solidify their desired academic paths in college.
At LuHi, we encourage our students to embrace our academic flexibility. Our Academies allow students to build personalized curricula in order to pursue their interests and passions, while still completing required state coursework. Upon completion, students receive an “endorsement” on their diploma that designates for colleges their specific courses of study.
Currently, the six (6) Academies offered at LuHi include:
While the Academies provide a uniquely flexible opportunity for students whose desires take them down that path, many of our students elect our standard curriculum. LuHi has designed its academic curriculum so that our teachers can maximize their abilities and nurture a dynamic learning environment for students.
During English classes, for example, students read novels, poems, and short stories and eschew traditional textbooks. The Science department is at the forefront of innovation, working from the latest journals and scientific advancements in the news instead of quickly-outdated textbooks.
The faculty and staff at Lutheran High are constantly seeking ways to bring student passions into the academic fold. Areas of passion typically outside the scope of study at school can be harmony with the right objectives, mentorship, and structure added.
Availability of college-level coursework is a priority for many parents researching high schools for their children. Although the various types of courses seem alike at first, there are differences that may make certain courses seem more or less appealing to you or your child. Of particular interest to many students and families as they research high schools are AP and dual credit courses.
LuHi faculty helps nurture individual student strengths and overcome any weaknesses. We support excellence from our students to help them achieve their highest levels of success during their college and university studies. To help them achieve their best, LuHi offers a robust selection of AP and college-level courses. These courses prepare students for post-secondary studies by literally enrolling them in college-level coursework, all while enrolled in our Parker private high school.
In Denver public schools, you will often find a wide range of AP classes. In fact, Denver public high schools typically have more Advanced Placement classes available to their students than Lutheran High.
That difference is a deliberate distinction made by Lutheran High. AP classes quickly became a defining feature for schools that considered themselves academically rigorous after their creation in the 1950s.
While AP classes are still a strong way to introduce college-level work to high school students, their importance — and in particular their impact on college acceptance and performance — has evolved in recent years.
In recent years, we have found that the most prestigious colleges and universities are unlikely to even accept the highest AP scores from students for college credit. As a result of this continued trend, LuHi selectively offers AP coursework in core areas. In fact, we stopped offering science AP coursework altogether. Science and technology are evolving much too quickly for standardized AP tests to usurp the need for hands-on cutting-edge, college coursework.
Here at Lutheran High, in addition to the select offering of AP coursework we provide, we are committed to providing ample dual-credit opportunities for our students.
Dual-credit courses are similar to AP in that they offer college credit for coursework completed while in high school. Put simply, AP courses prepare students to take a test that demonstrates their knowledge of college-level curricula.
Dual-credit courses actually enroll students in college courses while they are still in high school. Students completing dual-credit coursework get a true feeling for what it is like in college, and earn actual college credit.
Academics and high school experience
At Lutheran High, we believe strongly that our students’ high school years are some of the most critical years in their lives. That’s why we meet with students at the end of 8th grade to craft four-year high school plans. Together, we’ll map out each student’s years and goals, begin thinking about college and set a roadmap to help students reach their goals.
While that roadmap may change over the years, we’ve found that having a plan in place helps LuHi students accomplish their goals and best prepares them for college life.
When crafting and revising that plan; however, careful attention is paid to balance. An overload of AP or even dual-credit work can overwhelm students. Looking ahead to college is important, but not at the expense of a rewarding, successful high school experience. We want our students to be challenged, reach high, but enjoy the path along the way. Then, once students enter college, enjoy that experience too!
At Lutheran High, our guidance counselor understands what many schools seek in student transcripts and can help students choose a high school curriculum that provides necessary challenges and balance while best preparing them for the future. With the intimate size and scope of a private school like LuHi, we are able to provide that copious, one-on-one academic and career counseling.
Our faculty is comprised of bright and passionate educators who go beyond teaching to engage students and make them think. Lutheran High staff truly cares about students and helps reinforce the life lessons and habits to help them succeed in college and as members of society.
It’s a badge of honor for our faculty that every teacher, coach, and faculty member knows their students by name. With nearly 600 students, that’s no small feat! But it’s more than a badge of honor for everyone at LuHi. It’s simply who we are. Every faculty member cares about our students and their success. Learning names and recognizing students in the halls is just one small way of letting our students know that we are invested in their growth and success.
At Lutheran High, we work with teachers to develop and hone teaching styles that maximize the needs of our students.
In most LuHi classrooms, teachers take a hybrid teaching approach. Our classrooms are bustling, engaging areas with a range of activities, demonstrations, and coaching from our teachers. We are teaching beyond the need to answer questions on tests, but truly understand and gain the ability to implement that information in real-world situations.
Our top priority at LuHi is to have every teacher, coach, and staff member show through their words and actions that our students are inherently loved and worthwhile.
LuHi teachers and alumni frequently have candid conversations about student classroom experiences. Our best teachers take these conversations to heart, and adjust their own curricula accordingly to evolve as college campuses and classrooms similarly evolve.
Our teachers know their material at the highest possible level and have carefully planned out their course progressions. They take great care to encourage learning from any background, and will go to great lengths to ensure that always remains the case.
Here at LuHi, we place heavy emphasis on college preparation in addition to our standard curriculum. We are committed to preparing your son or daughter to achieve his or her highest possible results at college or university. As part of our college testing prep, we prepare students for both the SAT and ACT to maximize their potential performance on these critical tests for college admissions departments.
Within Denver public schools, you will find a wide range of athletics opportunities. Compared to private schools in Denver, the number of athletic opportunities available at public schools is significantly higher, aligning with the significantly large number of students enrolled in those schools.
Along with more athletic opportunities; however, comes a high level of competition. Students who may not be top athletic performers often miss out on the thrill and joy of teamwork and competition, simply because in the public school environment, it’s impossible for every student to make the cut. Also, funding is often stretched thin to accommodate competitive sports, leaving little room for sports activities for students who cannot compete at the highest level.
At LuHi, we have 14 varsity-level sports teams, and a 90% participation rate among students. The athletics component of life at Lutheran High is one that includes and is embraced by the vast majority of our student population. We believe that when your school acts like a family, there's a place for everyone to be involved. Our students find a place to plug in, a place to grow, and a place to reach their goals.
Lutheran High varsity sports programs include:
On a sports team at Lutheran High, every student has the opportunity to be a leader, not just the star quarterback or goalie.
Our sports are centered around creating Christian men and women of character, so athletic participation at LuHi is about much more than wins and losses. LuHi students work extremely hard, and several of our teams have won league and state championships in recent years; however, if you speak to any of our athletic coaches, you’ll find that they prioritize character development above all else.
We also proudly support several sports teams that compete at the playoff level. Our students understand the work ethic and dedication needed to perform at the highest level of competition.
While we encourage participation and leadership development through athletics and activities for all students, those students who have their eyes on competing at the collegiate level (or beyond) will find ample opportunity to grow and develop through LuHi athletics. Although the exact number fluctuates each year, LuHi currently has 35 graduates who are participating in athletics at the collegiate level.
And students who participate in athletics at LuHi will get the support of their classmates, the school faculty, and LuHi staff. Every member of the LuHi family proudly exhibits #LionPride and you’ll never find empty stands when our students compete. We understand the hard work, strength, and determination exhibited by our students, and we want to support that effort at all times.
Beyond academic achievement, high school is a time for your child to progress emotionally, spiritually, and physically. At LuHi, we carefully select our faculty and staff, and develop processes specifically to nurture these elements in our students to prepare them for their college and professional lives.
With a smaller student body than most Denver public schools, most private schools (including LuHi) likely have fewer options for activities than public high schools. But as we continue to grow, we continue adding new clubs. And as a private school, there is significantly less “red tape” and fewer steps in order to get new clubs up and running. In fact, we actively encourage our students to approach administration with new club ideas. We want to help our students work together and pursue their passions! With over 92% of our student body involved in extracurriculars, there is no shortage of ideas and interest in our clubs.
We also have at least three (3) spirit weeks each year (homecoming, sadies, and Christmas) to get students involved and celebrate the unique student life at LuHi. Beyond our formal clubs and activities, many of our classes also step out into the community and serve together, which not only makes us proud as a school, but nurtures bonding and teamwork among our students.
When we see students excelling in certain areas, we want to wholeheartedly encourage them to pursue those interests. When students are unsure about their passions, we get to expose them to various professions, ministries, service opportunities, and classroom instruction that encourages them to make connections, explore options, and land where they find a fit.
Our student clubs were founded based on interest from students. Today, LuHi continually nurtures student passions by being receptive to student ideas, clubs, service projects, and leadership initiatives. We want our students to approach us with their ideas so we can support them as they work to make their dreams a reality.
Current clubs at Lutheran High School include:
Denver students have a range of options for private and public high schools. The education decision you make in the coming months or years will have a profound impact on the development of your child in high school, college, and beyond.
While only you and your child can identify what’s most important as you make this decision, we hope that this guide has helped you think through and contemplate key differences.
At Lutheran High, our carefully developed curriculum and extracurricular activities create a high school experience that is academically challenging, supportive, and even fun. When we combine all of these elements with our passionate faculty and bright, engaged students, the result is astounding. Our graduates have gone on to become leaders in the areas of medicine, technology, media, and more.
Will your child be our next success story?
Please feel free to visit our website at www.lhsparker.org or call us at (303) 841-5551 to learn more about Lutheran High and how we can give your student the opportunity to lead.