Arrupe Jesuit High students learn skills at Secretary of State’s office

Dinell, an Arrupe Jesuit High School student who has a work study job at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. (SOS photo)

Who knew that when Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams visited Arrupe Jesuit High School last year to present a voter registration award it would lead to reducing a backlog at the SOS this year?

During the visit to the north Denver school, Williams learned that Arrupe Jesuit offers students a unique corporate work study program where students are employed at a variety of places, including nonprofits, law firms and health centers. The Secretary of State’s office decided to participate.

Darleen Herrera, an investigator in the Colorado Secretary of State’s bingo-raffle division, and Jamilee, a work study student from Arrupe Jesuit High School. (SOS photo)

That’s how Dinell and Jamilee, freshmen at Arrupe, ended up at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office working under the supervision of Shannon Bee, the bingo-raffle program manager.

The pair has gained skills in data entry and verifying scanned documents. Their salaries from the state go toward their tuition.

“It’s been rewarding to work in a state agency and make sure that the people of Colorado are served efficiently,” Dinell said. “The work I’ve done for the past few months has set the office ahead a whole year.”

That’s because the two have been able to reduce a backlog that was creating problems, said Gary Zimmerman, the Secretary of State’s chief of staff. If documents aren’t scanned and entered into the system they can’t be quickly searched.

“Thanks to these Arrupe Jesuit students, we have continued to improve the customer service that the Williams administration has provided to the public,” Zimmerman said.

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Voting and vocation at Denver’s Arrupe Jesuit High School

“I think voting rights is about human rights.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams sits with seniors at Arrupe Jesuit High School Monday morning before handing out an award to the school for its effort in registering eligible students to vote. (SOS photo)

In a ceremony filled with prayers and promise, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams on Monday recognized Arrupe Jesuit High School for its efforts in getting students registered to vote.

The north Denver Catholic school serves the economically disadvantaged and one of its goals to empower graduates to continue their education and return to their communities as leaders. The 420-member student body is 93 percent Hispanic and 77 percent qualify for free and reduced lunches.

Ashley Simpson and Jesus Baez Tapia, students at Arrupe Jesuit High School who encouraged their classmates to register to vote. (SOS photo)

During a senior assembly, Williams singled out two students, Ashley Simpson and Jesus Baez Tapia, for their efforts in working with the group Inspire Colorado to get their classmates inspired to register to vote.

Simpson and Tapia’s efforts led to the school receiving the Secretary of State’s Eliza Pickrell Routt award, which is given to high schools where more than 85 percent of eligible seniors register to vote.

“You’re going to graduate from high school soon. You’re going to be part of the community, and what happens in this community is up to you,” Williams said. “That’s the great thing about the democratic republic in which we live. There is no ‘the man” who makes the decisions for us. We get to make those decisions.”

Also addressing the seniors was state Rep. Dan Pabon, who represents the neighborhood, and Ryan Drysdale with Inspire Colorado.

“Our faith tells us we are working for the least amongst us,”  Pabon said. “I think voting rights is about human rights. ‘Democracy’ can be a controversial word in the world. There are some people who don’t want to have the people control their government because, God forbid, they might actually do something that helps the people.”

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