Horizons at Colorado Academy works directly with more than 140 Denver Public School students each year with the goal of providing year-round academic, cultural and extracurricular support. Through Horizons, students find the unique opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, travel, and experience year-round education.
Ulisses Rico-Moncada is one of those students, and like most young people his age, he is inspired to hope and dream, believe and strive, succeed and struggle. Currently a seventh grader attending Denver School of Science and Technology Cole Middle School, Ulisses says his best memories of Horizons can be found both in and outside the classroom.
“I love that each summer we have the chance to learn about all of the subjects that will prepare us for the following school year. One of my favorite experiences with Horizons was going on an overnight camping trip. We built stronger relationships with everyone.”
Ulisses says he wants to keep making friends and would love to someday do so in the halls of Colorado Academy, where he hopes to attend high school. When asked what his ‘dream career’ would be if he had to choose today, Ulisses excitedly replies, “I would choose to be a Chemical Engineer or an Immigration Lawyer, because both of these professions can help the world.”
He says that, “My family, my friends and my privilege to have shelter and education are the most important things to me in my life. I love playing my violin and playing soccer with my friends, and I also enjoy reading very much. I am currently reading a book called Night for school, and for pleasure I am reading the Divergent series. I like reading because I can get lost in the book and be in a whole different world.”
Throughout his four years in the Horizons program, Ulisses has set a strong example through his passion and drive for continued improvement. He has earned the Mile High Scholar Award and multiple Honor Awards. He is consistently recognized for his outstanding grade point average, receiving multiple Honor Student Awards and serving as a good example to fellow school members. “My favorite award was the Aguila Award,” he says, “because I was taken on a ride in a limousine and then treated to a special restaurant afterwards.”
In speaking with Ulisses’ parents, they share how they “appreciate that Horizons gives children the opportunity to do amazing things during the summer, instead of just watching TV or playing video games.” In fact, without Horizons, many children wouldn’t get the chance to go skiing in the mountains, attend some of Denver’s wonderful museums and parks, or enjoy great hikes.
“What we appreciate most is the great communication that Horizons has with us as parents and the genuine care that the Horizons teachers and staff show to our children and families.”
Ulisses shares the sentiment, adding that the Horizons community has nurtured some of his greatest friendships, including the one with his best friend. “Pedro has challenged me in all subjects by seeing who can complete some of the most challenging and difficult questions between him and me, like a competition.” While finding similarities among his peers, Ulisses says Horizons has also helped him to develop a deeper appreciation for people from other walks of life.
“To be a person of a bicultural background, I see that I will have many more opportunities in life. There will be more doors opened for success. I am able to help other people by translating for those who cannot speak English. I am very fortunate to be bilingual and I love the opportunities that Horizons has given me to share my experiences with so many others.”