Castle Rock now offers higher education, but it's not through the traditional four-year university or college programs that dot the country. Students won't spend 20 minutes walking from one end of campus to the other, and they can receive workforce training while they attend classes.
Arapahoe Community College Sturm Collaboration Campus, which held a grand opening Aug. 16, touts a higher-education experience that will streamline a student's path from high school to a college degree and allow them to stay in Castle Rock to complete it.
Those enrolled can join an apprenticeship program, receive professional certifications, earn an associate degree or start their education before transferring to another school to complete a bachelor's degree program.
Arapahoe Community College President Diana Doyle said the campus was reason to celebrate and thanked ACC students for voting to approve student fees that helped pay for the project.
“I can't believe we are actually going to start classes next Monday,” she said.
ACC's student government president Gabriel Houhoulis said the campus will allow students to make “life-changing decisions” as they navigate their education.
The first day of classes at the 43,000-square-foot building was Aug 19. About 650 students signed up for the fall semester, 75 of which were high school students in the Douglas County School District in concurrent enrollment, where they receive college credit while attending high school.
The student body will be a mix of people at different phases in their pursuit of education, like high schoolers working on college credit, aspiring nurses completing their certified nurse aide program before applying to nursing school or people going back to school, wanting a career change.
The first curriculums available are business and entrepreneurship, health care, cybersecurity and secure software, information technology and programming, general education and workforce training.
Both Colorado State University and the Douglas County School District will run programs at the school.
They're among a lengthy list of partners that worked to bring the project to fruition. ACC, the Town of Castle Rock, the Castle Rock Economic Development Council also partnered with ACC to make Sturm Collaboration Campus a reality.
Castle Rock Mayor Jason Gray said the campus will improve quality of life in town and predicted Sturm Collaboration Campus will be a model other institutions look to in the future of higher-education.
“We keep talking over and over again about collaboration and that's because it's true,” he said, commending project partners who made the school a reality.
The campus was named for the Sturm Family Foundation, which made a $10 million donation to Arapahoe Community College in March. The foundation is willing to match $5 million.
In future years the school plans to expand Sturm Collaboration Campus with a second building. Plans for the expansion are still conceptual and the school is raising donations toward that goal. For now, Doyle said enrollment exceeded the school's goal for the fall.
“We're delighted,” she said.
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