Colorado colleges graduate bumper crop

The Community College of Aurora is looking at an eye-popping 70 percent increase in the number of students it graduates this spring if students who say they’ve met requirements are right.

The Metropolitan State College of Denver expects to confer degrees on a record 1,615 graduates this spring, up 27 percent from last year.

And they’re not the only Colorado campuses pumping out bumper crops of capped and robed graduates eager to land jobs or continue their degree-seeking quests.

According to unofficial numbers, the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley will also hand out degrees to a record graduating class of 1,474. The Colorado School of Mines is setting a record with 546 undergraduates and 159 graduate students earning degrees.

While the number of spring graduates has held steady in recent years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, it too is expecting the spring graduating class to be among its largest, CU-Boulder spokesman Greg Swenson said.

Some 5,825 graduates earned degrees this spring from CU-Boulder. Of those, 4,530 were undergraduate degrees, 850 were master’s degrees, 175 were in law, and 270 were doctoral degrees.

“It’s definitely one of the larger classes,” Swenson said.

Celebrating diversity at Metro

To celebrate this year’s large number of 1,615 prospective grads, Metro will hold its first outdoor commencement Sunday morning on the Auraria Athletic Field. President Stephen Jordan will deliver the commencement address reflecting upon the institution’s nearly 45-year history and where the urban campus is headed.

Of the state’s four-year schools, Metro’s graduating class is most diverse, campus spokesman Tim Carroll said. Nearly 20 percent of graduating students are of color, with Latinos representing 10.7 percent of the total. Ten graduates are 20 years old or younger, and seven are 60 or older. Two thirds of the graduates transferred to Metro State from other institutions.

Metro’s top 10 majors are biology, behavioral science, psychology, criminal justice and criminology, history, accounting, speech communication, management, art, and human performance and sport, in that order. Thirteen percent of the graduates, or 207 students, are seeking teacher licensure.

A major reason for Metro’s surge was transfer students. There were 213 more of them in this year’s graduating class, for a total of 1,087. For the three years prior, the transfer figure hovered near 850. Also, Jordan has focused on improving retention and graduation rates since he came on board nearly five years ago, Metro spokesman Tim Carroll said.

UNC grads aged 19 to 57

At UNC, 1,237 of the graduates are earning bachelor’s degrees, 182 are earning master’s degrees, 17 are receiving specialist certificates 38 are earning doctoral degrees. For undergrads, the age range is 19 to 57. For graduate students, it’s 22 to 60 years old. The average age of an undergraduate is 24; while the average age of a graduate student is 33. The average undergraduate GPA is 3.19, while the average graduate GPA is 3.82. It takes most undergraduates nine semesters to graduate.

UNC’s top five majors for undergrads based upon 2010 degrees awarded are: interdisciplinary studies, business administration, psychology, communication studies, sport and exercise science and journalism, spokesman Nate Haas said.

Top majors in UNC’s graduate school were special education, clinical counseling, music, school psychology and sport and exercise science.

Adams State College in Alamosa is reporting a record batch of graduates earning master’s degrees, or 145. The majority of the degrees, or 93, are in counselor education. Of those, more than half completed the degree program online.

Red Rocks Community College expects to award associate’s degrees to 25 percent more students than it did one year ago, said Colorado Community College System spokeswoman Rhonda Bentz.

“We are seeing significant increases in graduation rates,” Bentz said Wednesday, after pouring through preliminary numbers from some of the metro area schools.

The Colorado Department of Higher Education won’t have official graduation numbers for several weeks.

Bleak job prospects for some

Of course, the big numbers just mean more competition for jobs in a job market that is bleak, to say the least. Career advisors say graduates can expect to spend six to eight months on a job hunt. Therefore, they’re encouraging students to start looking around long before graduation day.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently reported that employers expected to hire about 7 percent fewer graduates in 2009-2010 than they did in 2008-2009. At CU-Boulder, fewer recruiters visited the campus this spring over last.

Lisa Severy, director of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Career Services office, said the news “is more hopeful as we’ve progressed into the spring.”

“It’s a funny challenge working with students,” Severy said. “As with any other pursuit, the more effort you put in the more you get out of it.”

Severy said students nearing graduation fall into two camps when job prospects don’t look so hot. They either network like crazy long before graduation day, making the most of career and alumni services and doing things like cleaning up their Facebook profiles and polishing up their resumes. Or, they shut down.

“They go, ‘This is awful,’ and they avoid it,” Severy said. “They move home with their parents, they think about grad school.”

Fortunately, Severy said in the last couple years, she’s seen more students opting for the first option.

This year’s strongest sectors include the technical and education fields, although state and city school district budget cuts have weakened the education sector somewhat, she said. Metro’s career services office is spotting some jobs opening up in the government sector and in healthcare.

Severy said the primary skill graduates may need is patience.

“Because the job market is tricky right now it can take longer to find a job, so students need to get a thick skin in terms of rejection,” Severy said.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.