Emily Griffith Technical College Celebrates 100 Years of Opportunity

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Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg, DPS Board President Anne Rowe and EGTC Executive Director Jeff Barratt take the opportunity on the 100th Anniversary of Emily Griffith Technical College to open 60-year-old time capsules. Governor John Hickenlooper declared September 9, 2016 Emily Griffith Technical College's 100 Years of Excellence and Opportunity Day.

Emily Griffith Opportunity School, now Emily Griffith Technical College, has provided opportunity for all who wish to learn since its opening in 1916

“For a century now, the Emily Griffith Technical College has been a beacon of prosperity for many in Denver, opening doors to opportunities for those looking to improve their lives,” Mayor Hancock said.

On September 9, 1916, Emily Griffith, an elementary school teacher with a vision, opened the doors to a place of learning for those who had no other, and she named it Opportunity School. Today, Emily’s unique and iconic institution celebrates a century of providing “opportunities for all who wish to learn,” as Emily Griffith Technical College (EGTC).

The Opportunity School was the first of its kind in the nation, providing free adult education. Educators from around the world visited the school, hoping to replicate this unique model of educating adults. During World War I, the school helped train soldiers in radio communication. In the years of World War II, the school operated around the clock to train civilians and soldiers for defense work. Throughout its history, the school has altered and adjusted its training and facilities to the changing needs and growth of Denver and its workforce.

In 1956, when construction was completed on the school building at 13th and Welton Streets, a copper box time capsule was placed under a marble plaque by Howard Johnson, principal of Emily Griffith Opportunity School at the time. Today - the 100th anniversary of the school’s opening – the contents of this time capsule were revealed. In attendance were Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg, EGTC Executive Director Jeff Barratt, DPS Board of Education President Anne Rowe, educators and community members.

“For a century now, the Emily Griffith Technical College has been a beacon of prosperity for many in Denver, opening doors to opportunities for those looking to improve their lives,” Mayor Hancock said. “We’re proud to have Emily Griffith as part of our educational landscape, and look forward to another hundreds years of providing world-class education for all who wish to learn.”

Some of the contents of the time capsule included:

  •     A school schedule of classes from 1955
  •     Newspaper articles from 1955-56 Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post
  •     A program from the memorial service for Emily Griffith in 1947
  •     A program from the dedication ceremony of the new welding and automotive shops
  •     A schedule of salaries for “noncertificated employees” of Denver Public Schools effective in December 1955
  •     The 1956 budget for Emily Griffith Opportunity School which totaled $51,500
  •     A letter from Principal Howard Johnson to the future residents of Denver at the opening of the capsule in which he shares the hopes for the future and the weather of the June day in 1956

Several of the relics will be showcased in the exhibit at the downtown Denver Public Library. For All Who Wish to Learn, 100 Years of Emily Griffith’s Legacy features a century of learning with artifacts retrieved from the original school site before the College’s move to new campuses in 2014. People will learn about the multitude of programs offered throughout the school’s history and how those programs have reflected the needs of Denver’s changing economy. For more information visit egfoundation.org/exhibit.

Today was also officially declared EMILY GRIFFITH TECHNICAL COLLEGE’S 100 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE AND OPPORTUNITY DAY by Governor John Hickenlooper. This proclamation honors Emily Griffith who was determined to provide education opportunities for the people of Denver. When the doors opened in 1916, Ms. Griffith served as principal for 17 years before retiring in 1933. A year later the school board renamed this Denver institution Emily Griffith Opportunity School, a deserved tribute to a visionary and determined leader who brought vocational education to Denver. Her name remains in the institution’s modernized name of Emily Griffith Technical College.

FAST FACTS:

  •     Nearly two million students have attended classes at the school
  •     EGTC is Colorado’s oldest and largest provider of English classes for non-native speakers
  •     EGTC has some of Colorado’s least expensive college credits, highest completion and job placement rates among post-secondary institutions
  •     EGTC partners with 19 Joint Apprenticeship Training Centers and other registered apprenticeship affiliates to provide high-quality training by industry professionals in 14 trades
  •     Currently the average student is 29 years old and the student body represents 92 countries and 74 languages
  •     In an era of crippling student debt, every EGTC student graduates debt-free
  •     A recent study estimated that in the past decade alone, EGTC has generated the capacity for $2.2 billion economic impact to the Denver economy.

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“My vision of such a school is one that will give folks who need more education as much or as little as they want, and in any field. It offers a challenge, I know; but if you accept the challenge, you face a new world.” Emily Griffith

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