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State’s largest charter school opens in Thornton

New $51M Stargate part of public-private partnership, mixed-use development


Stargate is a fitting name for the new $51 million Thornton charter school, sure to open up a galaxy of learning opportunities for young residents of the North I-25 corridor.

The largest charter school project in the state and second-largest in the nation, Stargate on Aug. 23 opened the doors of its new 43-acre campus, part of a 70-acre mixed-use development on Washington Street in Thornton, near the intersection of I-25 and 144 Avenue.

The new school will serve gifted children kindergarten through high school and is part of a mixed-use development in Thornton in which five acres of retail space and/or commercial support property is planned adjacent to the educational facility. The mixed-use nature of the development is part of a public-private partnership between Stargate School, City of Thornton, the landowner, investors and the design and construction team.

The new facility, located at 14530 Washington St., is chartered by Adams 12 Five Star School District.

Though Stargate has been serving gifted students in grades K-8 for more than two decades, Executive Director Josh Cochran said the new campus will allow for learning on a new level and the whole way through high school.

“Our new learning spaces will allow us to provide differentiated instruction to 1,600 students in grades K-12 at full build-out,” he said.

The new campus includes two academic buildings, a fieldhouse and amphitheater — all designed by Denver-based architecture firm Hord Coplan Macht to cater to the gifted and talented student population. (The fieldhouse and weight room are scheduled to be complete by October).

The expansion also includes a high school with an enrollment goal of 1,600 total students K-12. The site design incorporates a quad-style campus, and each academic building includes breakout spaces and a learning commons or “makerspace” for kids to pursue “passion projects.”

“The campus design and the variety of learning spaces we created reflects the innovative educational vision of the school leadership and board members that we worked with from the beginning,” said Adele Willson, principal of Hord Coplan. “They were an inspiration to the design team.”

JHL Constructors is the general contractor and Inline Management is the owner’s representative on the project.

Several community leaders, including Thornton Mayor Heidi Williams, city council members, school officials and design and construction team members were in attendance and giving remarks at the Aug. 23 grand opening celebration.

Students started school the following day. Cochran said the school opened a week later than other Adams 12 schools so that they could ensure completion of the project.

“We knew just how construction goes, and how unfortunate circumstances like weather play into that, so we just wanted to be safe,” he said. “Pushing it back a week allowed us to get every building ready.”

To hear it from Williams, it was worth the wait. She said the new school will add value to the community in more ways than one.

“I really appreciate Stargate being located in our city … because of your great support,” she said. “It really just adds something that our school district, quite frankly, doesn’t have. I know that (Adams 12) is really thrilled to have you here, because it really serves a need for gifted kids, that we didn’t have in the district before.”


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