Denver's Opportunity School (Emily Griffith) Poster, 1917

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Artifact Is: Document
Located at: Denver Public Library

Artifact Significant To: Colorado

Artifact Description:

This poster from the Peak Family Papers (WH1124) advertises course offerings at Denver’s Opportunity School (renamed the Emily Griffith Opportunity School in 1934). Dating from 1917, the poster emphasizes the school’s free day and night classes, which included Algebra, English for Foreigners, Citizenship (“to prepare for [the] naturalization examination”) as well as vocational courses like Automobile Operation and Repairing, Bookkeeping, and Dressmaking. The poster urges potential students to “Bring in your problems and difficulties….the principal and teachers are always glad to meet you, and help you in your work, or prepare you for a better position.”

Why Is This Artifact Significant?

This artifact provides early documentation of the Opportunity School’s groundbreaking mission to deliver educational opportunities to all Denverites. The poster captures how the school was an early adopter of a modern attitude that welcomed working people, immigrants, and students with learning challenges to enroll in free classes. Today, the school, now known as Emily Griffith Technical College, continues to use the motto coined by Emily Griffith: “For all who wish to learn.” 

How Does The Artifact Relate To Colorado History?

The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Opportunity School’s opening. In 1916, educator Emily Griffith, in cooperation with the State of Colorado, founded the school to bring vocational education opportunities to Denver citizens. As its program expanded, the Opportunity School constructed a second building at 12th and Welton Street in 1926. This building received an historic landmark designation from Denver City Council in May 2016. Over the past 100 years, the Emily Griffith Technical College has prepared nearly two million students for the workforce. An exhibition commemorating the school’s anniversary will be presented in the Denver Public Library’s Western History and Genealogy Department through December 2016.

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