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‘Out of the Darkness’ walk kicks off Suicide Prevention Week

HIGHLANDS RANCH – Hundreds of people marked the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week by participating in the fourth annual South Metro ‘Out of the Darkness’ Community Walk. Highlands Ranch High School (HRHS) hosted the event on Saturday September 7, which aims to both share information in the community about suicide prevention and to remember the lives of those who taken their lives by suicide.
While final numbers are not yet in, Sheri Cole, co-chair of the South Metro Community Walk and President of the Colorado chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) said the event’s success was due to a lot of preparation.
“It’s pretty much year-round planning.  We have teachers and students that volunteer and people that come from states all over the country,” Cole said. 
Over the past four years the event has raised nearly a half a million dollars to benefit programs like Sources of Strength, a peer relation program piloted at HRHS.
Sources of Strength is a peer leadership-training program that utilizes the power of a peer network to provide protective factors for students.
“It’s not so much the money aspect as it is the awareness,” asserted Cole. “So much of why I got involved was because of education.  It’s such a taboo subject in our society but I think we’re starting to turn the tide on that.”  
Cole first got involved with the AFSP after she lost her son to suicide four years ago.
“I knew my sons friends were struggling and that some of them potentially knew after the fact that he had suicidal ideation but didn’t know where to go necessarily or what to do,” she explained.
Once she learned more about the AFSP and the educational resources it provides—like Sources of Strength and More than Sad that are both aimed at 15-19 year olds—she immediately linked up with the organization and eventually started the AFSP Colorado chapter.
Cole began working with HRHS and the school district to implement the programs and assets AFSP provides. 
Also, Cole is pleased with the support she has received from the community.  Both the Douglas County Suicide Prevention Alliance and the Youth Education and Safety in Schools (YESS) program, developed by the sheriff’s office, joined forces with the AFSP Colorado chapter to further the advocacy of the cause.
“We have helped fund multiple gate keepers trainings such as ASIST and safeTALK (programs by Living Works) as well.  That would not necessarily just be for the school district, but the community at large for people to take a course,” Cole pointed out.
“The collaboration and direct partnerships between the organizations has really been amazing, and it’s what helps make the walk successful too,” she said.
‘Out of the Darkness’ Community, Campus, and Overnight Walks are organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) as their premiere event to raise funds aimed at improving the understanding and prevention of suicide. 
“It’s estimated that 80 percent of us in our lifetime will be affected by suicide loss. So the need for more awareness is there, the numbers have increased—we all have the opportunity to do more and make a difference to prevent suicide through research, education, and advocacy,” Cole said.
AFSP Colorado chapter will be accepting donations through the end of the 2013 year.  To help the AFSP and Douglas County/South Metro community reach the 2013 fundraising goal of $140,000, please visit

November 15, 2013 | By rmbarber | Category:

District News

graduates standing in line outside, smiling

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Graduation rates in the Douglas County School District (DCSD) continue to climb. Data released today by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) shows the on-time, four-year graduation rate is now 90.4 percent.

DCSD students also made an impressive showing at graduation. The class of 2017 earned more than $82 million in scholarships.

DCSD has one of the highest graduation rates in the Denver metro area. According to CDE, DCSD graduation rates have risen steadily from 81.9 percent in 2009 to 90.4 percent in 2017.

Five female students standing on stage smiling and laughing at the awards ceremony

The top two-percent of female athletes in Douglas County School District (DCSD) were honored at the annual Girls and Women in Sports Luncheon last week at Chaparral High School. This year represented the 30th national celebration of Girls and Women in Sports Day, created to encourage and promote the participation of girls in athletics. The girls who were honored were selected by their school’s coaches, athletic directors and principals for their outstanding achievements.

Superintendent Search text based logo

Working through the recent winter break, the Douglas County School District Board of Education has kicked off its search for DCSD’s next permanent superintendent. Following a thorough vetting of potential search firms, Ray & Associates (no relation to Board Director David Ray) has been hired to conduct the national search. The cost of the firm, excluding travel expenses, is $40,000. The money will come from the school board's budget, which is used for costs such as legal expenses and conferences.