Colorado's Finest has a long and rich history. It is one of the largest and longest-standing alternative programs in the city. The school began in 1980 and was created solely to meet the needs of non-traditional students. The program was proposed by a former Englewood staff member, Maurice DeShazer, approved by the board, and began at Washington Elementary school, a campus that no longer exists in Englewood. The first two years of the program, there were three teachers, an administrator, and two support staff, as well as twenty-five students. 1983 was a landmark year for the program; it moved to a new building, the Old Scenic View Elementary at Zuni and Tejon, and the program finally earned a name, as decided on by students, and presented to the School board. In 1983, Colorado's Finest Alternative High School came to be.
It offered morning, afternoon, and evening classes. Finest was a pioneer in online education and early adoption of technology in education. Finest also pioneered an entirely new grading system, one based on attendance and demonstration of skill on a daily basis, rather than using traditional grading systems. In fact, the grading system does not rely on traditional grades or grading procedures, but instead employs a system that refers to students as "90% or above" or "below 90%."
In 1984, Dr. Tom Synnott became the administrator, added staff members, created a system of proficiencies by which students could show readiness for graduation, and grew the student body. His tenure lasted until 1994, when Cher Tufly became the principal. She would guide the school for seven years, shepherding the students and staff through CSAP, ACT, and curricular developments initiatives, including aligning courses with state standards, and adopting a new writing program; Six-Trait writing. Cher retired in 2001, and Della Porter assumed the role of principal. The program continued to grow under her leadership, at times serving nearly 600 students between its day and evening programs, all while maintaining a lengthy waiting list for new students to enter. Upon Della Porter's retirement in 2007, Dr. Bobbie Skaggs assumed school leadership.
In 2014, Englewood voters approved a mill and a bond, and the district received a B.E.S.T. grant. The influx of income allowed the district to renovate and remodel Sinclair Middle School, creating a new home for finest. We finished the first semester of the 2014-2015 school year in our old building in December of 2014, and began the second semester of the school year in Janury of 2015 in our new building. Dr. Skaggs was the Colorado Secondary Principal of the year in the 2018-2019 school year, then retired in 2020. Cindy Chick, our current Principal, stepped into the leadership role upon Dr. Skaggs' retirement.
Awards and honors:
Commissioner's Challenge School, John J. Irwin Award (x6!), International Inviting School, Best Alternative High School (Westword), Best High School in Colorado (Redbook magazine)