Frequently Asked Questions
When did Peak to Peak Charter School open?
Peak to Peak opened its doors in 2000 and began operation of its secondary school in 2001.
What is a charter school?
Operating within local public school districts, charter schools are public schools with their own board of directors. For more information on charter schools, see the Colorado Department of Education Charter School page or the Colorado League of Charter Schools.
What is Peak to Peak’s vision statement?
The Peak to Peak community will inspire students to fulfill their academic dreams for college, to develop their creative passions and athletic talents, and to become responsible citizens.
What is Peak to Peak’s mission statement?
- Provide broad access to an exemplary K-12 liberal arts, college preparatory education that challenges students to achieve their academic potential.
- Be a community that values and recognizes scholarship, academic achievement, and creativity.
- Provide an environment in which each student is known, respected, and valued as an individual of great potential and promise.
- Prepare students to become active and responsible citizens of an interdependent world.
What does the term “College Preparatory” mean?
At Peak to Peak, we hear or speak the words all the time: "College Prep." But what does that mean, when it comes right down to what goes on the in the classroom? Small school; more material covered; more depth; challenging classes; more advanced classes; appropriate homework. Certainly, all of those things are associated with rigorous college preparatory schools across the country. If you look closely inside the classrooms at Peak to Peak, however, you will see a clue as to one very important aspect of being a college preparatory school: analytical reasoning and critical or advanced thinking. Each classroom displays Bloom's Taxonomy for Questions, a chart which highlights five levels of questioning starting with "Knowledge" and moving progressively higher to "Evaluation." Peak to Peak’s staff and faculty take very seriously the mission to teach our students to be advanced thinkers – the kind of thinkers who colleges and universities want to admit. The curriculum supports this. The choices of educational materials reinforce it. The type of advanced thinking shown in the upper levels of the chart that adorns each classroom, combined with the knowledge that fuels that thinking and the character to put that thinking to good use, define what “College Prep” means at Peak to Peak. Peak to Peak has a strong college counseling program beginning in ninth grade, and the goal is for all students to attend a college of their choice.
Why is it beneficial for a school to have AdvancED Accreditation?
AdvancED has given accreditation fo Peak to Peak as a K-12 school. Accreditation through AdvancED provides an external mark of quality and highlights the school's devotion to continuous improvement. To qualify, a school must meet rigorous AdvanceED standards. For more information please visit AdvancED's website: http://www.advanc-ed.org/.
How is the school financed? Do you charge tuition?
Peak to Peak manages its own budget and is responsible for meeting all financial commitments associated with the school. The Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) allocates operational funding to Peak to Peak on a per pupil basis, just like it does for other schools. Unlike other public schools, however, a charter school’s building costs are paid from those operational funds. Peak to Peak has an active fund development program to bridge this gap. The areas of fundraising include: Annual Gift Campaign; special events; ongoing fundraisers like script, food labels, box tops, recycling, etc.; grant writing; planned giving: and our Ambassador Program. Charter schools are public schools which receive public funding, and thus we do not charge tuition.
Peak to Peak’s buildings are financed through the issuance of bonds through the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority (CECFA). The school’s per pupil funding is used to retire the bonds over the longterm.
Will the school need additional financial resources to complete the facilities and operate the school?
Yes! In Peak to Peak’s start-up years, significant grant funding and private contributions were used to support the school's initial long-term requirements for curriculum materials and supplies and special programs. At this stage in Peak to Peak’s growth, the school has been successful in raising support in order to complete construction of the Performing Arts Complex and Library Media Center. In 2009, Peak to Peak purchased 8.9 acres of land and in 2011 began construction of the Athletic Fields for our growing programs. In 2015, the school added a third gymnasium, expanded the cafeteria space, and built a College Counseling Center. Additional grounds improvement and an innovation hub are in our long-term plans. Every year, Peak to Peak is challenged to bridge the gap in the operating budget by fundraising.
What does your campus include?
Peak to Peak is fortunate to be located in beautiful Lafayette, Colorado, just nine miles from Boulder and the foothills on a 26-acre campus. The school inaugurated a new 100,000 square foot campus in the 2002-2003 school year. The site incorporates strong academic and extracurricular features including: Advanced Placement (AP); science labs; a College Counseling Center; a Performing Arts Complex; a large Library Media Center, which houses an elementary, middle, and high school library space and state-of-the-art technology lab; vocal and instrumental music classrooms; three gymnasiums; a fully-equipped weight room; two soccer fields, including one high-quality synthetic turf field with lights; and two playgrounds.
Who hires the teachers and staff?
Peak to Peak has an active hiring/organizational development team that fulfills hiring needs. The teaching and administrative staff is carefully selected following an extensive interviewing process by this team that includes administrators, teachers, and trained parent volunteers. Peak to Peak also employs a Human Resources Director who serves on the hiring team.
How qualified are Peak to Peak’s teachers and staff?
Peak to Peak has become widely known for its exceptional faculty. The teaching staff is carefully selected following an extensive hiring process by a team that includes administrators, other teachers and extremely dedicated parent volunteers. Over the last few years, four members of Peak to Peak's instructional staff have received the Impact on Education Award, a prestigious award that "recognizes individuals in the Boulder Valley School District who have an extraordinary impact on student learning through exceptional teaching skills, job dedication, volunteering and/or leadership." impactoneducation.org
What class size can we expect at Peak to Peak?
While Peak to Peak is a small school, our class sizes are similar to other public schools. We endeavor to keep class sizes at 24 students in grades kindergarten through second grade, 26 in third through fifth grade, and an average of 25 students in middle and high school classes. Although efforts are made to balance class sizes, Peak to Peak’s goal to place students in courses that are properly challenging does sometimes create fluctuations in class size.
Are parents expected to volunteer at Peak to Peak?
Peak to Peak strongly believes that parental involvement is an important factor in a successful education and requests that each family contribute to the school through volunteer work and/or other resources. Since Peak to Peak has high standards for the school and our students, but fewer dollars than other schools, these volunteer efforts and financial gifts are essential.
How does Peak to Peak promote a positive school culture?
The development of positive character has played an important role at Peak to Peak since its inception. The school seeks to intentionally infuse character throughout the culture of the school, rather than adding it as an extra program. The school supports a positive environment through community service, a bullying prevention program, a code of conduct, and an honor code. Additionally, the school maintains a strong dress code. Peak to Peak students work hard in their academic endeavors and they also spend time enjoying extracurricular competitions and after-school activities.
Are special education services available?
Peak to Peak provides resource-level support to encourage academic growth for our children with special needs. Students receive instructional interventions and accommodations within the general classroom setting. Curriculum is often adapted to meet the needs of our special education population, but rarely modified. The special education process is a collaborative effort involving families, general education staff, special education teachers, paraprofessionals, and related service providers.
How are the needs of gifted students addressed?
Peak to Peak’s mission is to challenge students K-12 to reach their academic potential and to create a community in which each student is known, respected, and valued as an individual of great potential and promise. It is our policy to provide for the children identified as requiring gifted education services. At Peak to Peak, gifted and talented programming is built into the curriculum and course offerings at all levels. We provide cluster grouping, flexible placement, acceleration opportunities, a range of enrichment activities, curriculum compaction, and differentiation of the curriculum for students who desire and/or need it. Counseling for academic course selection, as well as for social and emotional needs is available. More specifically, in grades K-5, cluster grouping of 4-7 gifted students occurs in homeroom classrooms, and students are grouped by ability for language arts and math. In grades 6-12, honors classes and Advanced Placement (AP) classes are available, and students are encouraged to advance in each subject area to a level that is both challenging and appropriate. Students who have more specific educational needs may have an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) written with the student and the Appropriate Learning and Placement Coordinator.
ALPS is the acronym for Appropriate Learning Placement Services, and the coordinator holds the responsibility of collecting evidence to identify and advocate for our identified TAG or GT students, our twice-exceptional students, and our high ability students. This includes communicating the strengths and needs of our identified students to ensure proper class placement and providing resources for teachers, parents, and students to ensure success from kindergarten through 12th grade.
How does Peak to Peak reach families who might not hear about the school because of language barriers or other reasons?
Peak to Peak has an outreach plan to notify students and parents who might not otherwise consider the school for enrollment. To this end, Peak to Peak uses a multifaceted strategy to reach the larger Boulder Valley community and keep families informed of our progress and enrollment opportunities.
Is information about Peak to Peak available in languages other than English?
Yes. Boulder Valley School District’s open enrollment information is available in Spanish and the Peak to Peak informational brochure can be made available in Spanish. Peak to Peak representatives are also available to answer questions in Spanish and other languages.
Is transportation provided?
No transportation is provided for charter schools under Colorado law. However, Peak to Peak is committed to the principle of equitable access to its program and recognizes that transportation may be an important issue for some families. Because students enroll from throughout the district, Peak to Peak has an active carpool system and is accessible via RTD bus lines from Boulder, Louisville, Broomfield, Lafayette, and other communities.
The “Jump” bus service provides public transportation directly to the Peak to Peak campus at the corner of Spaulding Street and Merlin Drive. The route runs between Lafayette and Boulder, providing service to many Lafayette neighborhoods along Arapahoe Road, in Old Town, and the Lancelot Park neighborhood. Additional RTD routes that serve the Lafayette Park-n-Ride include the 225, the 227, and the L routes. These bus routes connect students who live near Baseline Road, South Boulder Road and Broomfield to the Park-n-Ride facility, which is located near Public Road, just south of Spaulding Street, about a half-mile walk from Peak to Peak. Please check RTD’s schedule to determine if there is a good connection to the Jump bus on its return trip to the school. Contact RTD at 303-299-6000 or http://www.rtd-denver.com for route information.
RTD has the “Bike and Ride” program, which encourages riders to connect to their final destination using bicycles. This program provides a good transportation option for students who live near the 225, 227, and the L routes. Additional information may be obtained by calling RTD at 303-628-9000.
What is "open enrollment?"
Each year, Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) holds an "open enrollment period." During this time, parents who are interested in enrollment in a school other than their designated neighborhood school for the next school year must follow the open enrollment process found on the Boulder Valley School District website, www.bvsd.org. Peak to Peak participates in this process. Please contact Peak to Peak’s main office at 303-453-4601 with any open enrollment questions related to Peak to Peak.How do I enroll my student at Peak to Peak?
Peak to Peak’s goal is to prepare our students for success in college. If your family desires a challenging, liberal arts, college preparatory education, we invite you to attend one of Peak to Peak’s informational meetings that are held during the open enrollment period. For information on these meetings, click on the Enrollment link on the peaktopeak.org website.
Parents can follow BVSD's open enrollment procedures and apply to Peak to Peak. Enrollment forms are available during the open enrollment period on BVSD's website only and must be submitted by BVSD’s established deadline at the close of the open enrollment period. Additional information about open enrollment timelines and procedures may be obtained starting in November.
Acceptance of students into Peak to Peak is based on the lottery system, as is the case with open enrollment at any Boulder Valley school that has more applicants than available spaces. Thus, when applications to the school exceed spaces available, students are selected through a random lottery process. Once admitted to Peak to Peak, students may continue through the Peak to Peak program, including the transition points between the elementary and middle school levels as well as the middle and high school levels.
If my student is not offered a space this year, am I placed on the wait list for the next school year?
BVSD eliminates Peak to Peak’s wait list on October 1st of each year. If your student is not offered a space for the upcoming school year and you are interested in attendance the next year, you must re-apply during the next open enrollment period. If you apply one year, do not receive an offer, and re-apply during the open enrollment period the next year, your application for the subsequent year will receive a higher priority in the lottery.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Grades K-5
What is the curriculum for the elementary school?
Peak to Peak Elementary School’s rigorous curriculum is based on national and state standards coupled with the nationally recognized Core Knowledge Sequence for social studies and science. Core Knowledge provides a rich, varied program that has shown great success with students from a wide variety of backgrounds. It has been well received by BVSD parents and has demonstrated a record of student achievement both locally and nationally. Peak to Peak’s literature-based reading program emphasizes phonics, phonemic awareness, and extensive practice to build fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. The math program emphasizes computation and problem-solving. More information regarding Core Knowledge is available through the Core Knowledge Foundation's website at www.coreknowledge.org or by phone at 1-800-238-3233.
What is the age requirement for kindergarten students?
Kindergartners in Boulder Valley School District must reach the age of five years on or before September 30th.
How many classes are at each grade level?
Peak to Peak has three classes at each grade level, K-5.
How does Peak to Peak adjust its curriculum to meet the students’ academic needs?
Peak to Peak uses several methods to appropriately challenge students. Once enrolled at Peak to Peak, students are assessed in math and language arts to determine their current ability levels. They are placed in the appropriate math and language arts class to meet their needs. Teachers also use strategies such as clustering and differentiation to challenge students in social studies, science, math, and language arts, in addition to world languages (French and Spanish), physical education, music, library, and art.
What “specialties” are offered to Peak to Peak elementary students?
Peak to Peak is committed to providing a solid liberal arts foundation in our elementary program. Elementary students receive instruction in physical education, art, Spanish, French, music, technology, and library use.
Do you offer extracurricular after-school activities?
Yes, Peak to Peak’s Before and After School Care (BAASC) program offers sports and activities and makes them available to all Peak to Peak elementary students. The school also sponsors activities such as Destination Imagination, community service projects, student council, talent shows, library club, chess club, a student recycling committee, spelling bees, geography bees, Mad Science, YMCA, JAM, Gold Crown Basketball (grades 4-6), and peer mediation.MIDDLE SCHOOL
What is the curriculum for the middle school?
Peak to Peak Middle School offers a challenging sequence of coursework in math, English, science, social studies, world languages, visual and performing arts, music, technology, and physical education to prepare students for Peak to Peak’s focused, college preparatory high school. Students are encouraged to take a level of coursework that allows them to meet their goals for challenge and advancement.
How does Peak to Peak meet the needs of middle school students who are ready for more challenge?
Peak to Peak places middle and high school students in courses according to their ability and knowledge, not grade level or chronological age. Once enrolled in Peak to Peak, new middle school students are assessed in several curricular areas and asked for previous course level and performance information to determine appropriate course placement.
Can students who have not attended the elementary program succeed at Peak to Peak?
Definitely. Many of Peak to Peak’s current students did not attend our elementary school and are successfully learning in Peak to Peak’s middle and high school program. It is a good match for students who desire a rigorous academic program that provides excellent content while developing critical thinking skills.
What extracurricular activities and athletics are offered at the middle school level?
Peak to Peak encourages students to become involved in school-sponsored activities, and the school offers a wide range of excellent activities. Competitive sports include basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball, cross country, and track.
What distinguishes Peak to Peak High School?
Peak to Peak High School offers a rigorous, challenging curriculum for students who desire a smaller, academically oriented school with a liberal arts, college preparatory focus. The school is an excellent match for students who want to work hard to achieve an outstanding education in a highly supportive environment. Peak to Peak is large enough to offer a variety of programs and small enough to be sure each student is known and valued as an individual of great potential and promise.
Peak to Peak’s high school features the Peak Scholar Award. This award was designed for students who desire a challenging, well-rounded high school experience, the Peak Scholar Diploma indicates to highly selective colleges the Peak Scholar’s commitment to excellence. The Peak Scholar Diploma demonstrates achievement in the following areas:
- Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams
- Honor Roll distinction
- A commitment to our community through community service
- Leadership or extracurricular activities.
Visit our Accomplishments page to see a list of historic and recent school and student awards and recognitions.
Peak to Peak’s High School has a strong college counseling program to support the college preparatory mission. To reach its goals, Peak to Peak high school emphasizes a well-rounded education in all liberal arts areas and, in an atmosphere of consistently high expectations, encourages students to strive to reach their full potential and employs highly qualified and experienced teachers and staff.
Why did Peak to Peak choose a 600-student high school?
Peak to Peak began its high school program in the 2001-2002 school year with 13 freshman. In the 2004/2005 school year, Peak to Peak graduated its first senior class. The high school reached its full enrollment size of 600 students in the 2010/2011 school year.
The 600-student high school was chosen based on studies indicating that an ideal size for a high school ranges from 400 to 800 students. According to research by Kathleen Cotton on the benefits of small-scale schooling, “Findings on the affective and social effects of school size are extensive and highly consistent.” Her research indicates “… the superiority of small schools in the following areas: student attitudes toward school in general and particular subjects, personal and academic self-concepts of students, student sense of belonging, social bonding between teachers and students, teacher and administrator attitudes toward work and each other, and cooperation among colleagues. Research on social behavior shows that compared to large schools, small schools have higher student rates of extracurricular participation, higher attendance rates, lower dropout rates, and fewer behavior and discipline problems.”
Peak to Peak is a focused college preparatory program in the public education system. As such, students who demonstrate mastery of the knowledge and skills of a particular course level are encouraged to enroll in a more advanced course. The school offers a variety of Advanced Placement (AP) courses that can be taken when a student is prepared for them, from freshman through senior year. Many students benefit from the guidance and direction that Peak to Peak provides. Peak to Peak offers a collegial atmosphere in which every student is known and valued as an individual. Students have the opportunity to develop sustained relationships with members of the faculty and staff.
What is Peak to Peak’s graduation rate? How many of the graduates go on to college?
Peak to Peak's graduation rate is consistently above 98% and the college acceptance is consistently at 100%.
How do Peak to Peak students’ scores on the ACT and SAT compare to other high schools?
Peak to Peak students have historically had the highest average ACT and SAT scores in the Boulder Valley School District. In 2017, the state of Colorado shifted from using the ACT to using the SAT as the primary high school assessment measure. See our Accomplishments page for past and present scores.
Does Peak to Peak High School offer a variety of courses, athletic teams, and extracurricular activities?
Colleges and universities seek students who maintain long-term commitments, make meaningful contributions including non-academic activities, and manage their time efficiently. Peak to Peak is committed to providing these types of activities to our students.
In addition to the music, theater, art, physical education, technology, and journalism courses that are offered as part of the curriculum, Peak to Peak High School offers extracurricular clubs and activities that provide opportunities for students to excel in areas such as leadership, sports, music, and the performing arts.
Since students at Peak to Peak work hard, it is also important to have fun. Peak to Peak students have participated in several dances each year and other activities such as school musicals, scavenger hunts on college campuses, spirit days, competitions, and open gyms.
Peak to Peak competes in CHSAA’s Metro League. There are a variety of athletic variety sports including cross country, girls volleyball, soccer, basketball, track, baseball, girls softball, boys and girls golf, and boys and girls tennis. It is anticipated that additional sports may be added in future years as the high school grows (depending on funding, student interest, and availability of coaches). Cheerleaders and the Pep Band add to the fun at Peak to Peak’s highly competitive Metro League games. Students wishing to enroll in a sport not offered by Peak to Peak are entitled to try out for, and participate on, teams at other BVSD schools.
What schools are Peak to Peak graduates being accepted to?
Peak to Peak’s goal is for all students to attend a college of their choice. One hundred percent of our graduates are accepted into a college of their choice and are offered millions in scholarship dollars.
What are you hearing from your alumni?
Peak to Peak graduated its first class in 2005. We consistently hear from our alumni how prepared they are for college, both in academics and in other ways. Our alumni program is currently being developed.
How was the high school curriculum developed?
Consultation with numerous top-ranked public and private colleges and universities across the country led to the development of the required and elective courses. The intent is that all students will meet or exceed the minimum requirements to attend the college of their choice and be ready to succeed in those programs.
What courses are required for graduation?
Peak to Peak’s graduation requirements have been developed based on the entrance requirements of top colleges and universities as well as through analysis of the components of a strong, academic high school curriculum. Students must successfully complete a minimum of 220 credits in order to graduate.
Are advanced courses offered?
Peak to Peak currently offers more than 30 honors and 20 Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
What are some of the advantages of Advanced Placement (AP)?
Peak to Peak’s AP program is a challenging academic program designed to provide motivated high school students with college-level academic courses. The courses provide an excellent opportunity to build study skills for a successful college experience.
Attending an AP high school offers the following benefits for students:
- More than 90 percent of U.S. colleges and universities give college credit to students who achieve a qualifying grade on the exam.
- More than 300 additional universities in 20 countries recognize AP courses and exams.
- Approximately 50 percent of U.S. colleges grant a full-year's credit (sophomore standing) to qualifying students.
- The AP organization has three levels of AP diploma.
- Students may take AP courses in all high school years, if prepared for the coursework.