August 20 2010, 9:28 AM
If you were wondering why Denver seemed a bit more glum than usual on Thursday, blame back-to-school day. Despite the seasonal calendar, summer is more or less over for the kids of Denver Public Schools. Students at Hill Campus of Arts and Science (formerly Hill Middle School) were greeted by Mayor John Hickenlooper and Denver Public Schools superintendent Tom Boasberg (pictured). Hick paid a visit to Hill, at 451 Clermont Street, because of its progress in recent years. "Five years ago it was half-empty, not performing that well," Boasberg tells 9News. "Today it's got a waiting list for every grade: sixth, seventh and eighth grade. It's just knocking the ball out of the park academically." DPS recently received a $25 million grant from the feds to teach English to students who do not speak it as their first language (40 percent of students fall into the category). And the school district’s first new building in four years has opened. The 35-acre, $43 million Evie Garrett Dennis Campus in Green Valley Ranch will house two new schools this year: SOAR charter elementary and a second campus for the Denver School of Science and Technology charter school for sixth through 12th grades, according to The Denver Post. Classrooms on the campus have interactive whiteboards and touch-screen TVs, and the place is wired with Wi-Fi. Wii game consoles are even set up in an exercise room. Approximately 80,000 students are returning to classes in the Denver area, notes CBS4. After high school, many students are opting for a more affordable education, as the effects of the recession linger. Enrollment at Front Range Community College's Boulder County campus in Longmont, for instance, has increased 20 percent over the past year, writes Boulder's Daily Camera.