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Our Mission & HistoryOur Mission: Transforming the lives of students and community through extraordinary educational experiences.

Who We Are

Kent Denver has long been a home for motivated students to learn, grow and pursue excellence in scholarship and character. We have a proud 100-year history, and our story is still being written today by students, educators and community. 

Our Strategic Vision

100+ Years of Excellence

From the school's founding in 1922 to where we are today, explore a timeline of some of the most important milestones in our school's history.

  • 1922

Visionaries Launch New School

In the spring of 1922, three teachers, Mary Kent Wallace, Mary Austin Bogue and Mary Louise Rathvon—known affectionately as the "Three Marys"—went on a mountain retreat. When they returned to Denver, they had plans to open their own school for "all who seek true cultivation and the fellowship of gentle service."

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  • 1924

First Graduating Class

The first graduating class from the Kent School—the Class of 1924—consisted of eight women who, according to the 1924-25 yearbook, were “notable for their individuality and high quality.” 

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  • 1933

Surviving The Great Depression

During the Great Depression, the Three Marys decided to allow all their students to remain at the school whether their families could pay or not. The entire faculty, including all three of the Marys, took pay cuts to keep the school solvent. Students also economized, opting to forego their prom in 1932 and their yearbook in 1934. 

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Student votes on election day
  • 1940

Kent School Evolves for a New Era

Debts incurred during the Great Depression weighed on the school’s finances. To meet those challenges, the Kent School officially filed for non-profit status in 1940 and established its first Board of Trustees in 1941. 

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  • 1941-1944

The War Years

Kent students embraced opportunities to support U.S. war efforts by providing meals to local families, selling stamps and war bonds, and holding clothing and toiletry drives for war refugees, among many other projects.

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Photo of students running in front of Kent Campus on S. University Blvd.
  • 1950s

A New Home for Kent School

Fueled by post-war growth in Denver, the demand for spots at the Kent School exceeded the capacity of its Sherman Street campus. In January 1951, the Kent School moved to a new campus at South University & Hampden, gaining more classrooms, larger playing fields and an expanded list of elective classes, plus increased financial aid.

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  • 1953

Founding of Denver Country Day

Andy Black and Tom Chaffee, friends and colleagues from schools in the East, converged in Denver in 1953 with an idea for a boys’ school dedicated to leadership in “scholarship, in cultural attainments, in sportsmanship and in the practice of [honorable] principles.” 

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Sign with arrows DCD left, Kent School right
  • 1963–1968

An Experiment in Coordination

By the mid 1960s, the Kent School and Denver Country Day were working together under an exchange program that allowed Kent students to take upper level math classes at DCD and DCD students to take advanced French and Latin at Kent. Both schools were also growing and in need of additional land and space for their student bodies

Read More about 1963-1968
Early 1970s
  • Early 1970s

Increasing Student Activism

Student activism, bolstered by faculty support, led to increased diversity in the student body, with scholarships dedicated to attracting students from a variety of backgrounds. Kent and DCD students also lobbied for increased curriculum flexibility, leading to the creation of an interim term at both schools devoted to a “broad program of elective courses in areas substantially different from the normal academic routine,” a tradition that continues today in the Middle School.

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  • 1974–1976

The Merger Years

By the early 1970s, nearly 40% of classes on the Kent/DCD coordinated campus were coed. Students and faculty from the two schools increasingly partnered on student social events, theater productions and musical performances. Given how intertwined the schools already were, the two communities endorsed a full merger of the Kent School and Denver Country Day. 

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  • 1980

A New Era in Athletics

Kent Denver Country Day joined the Colorado High School Athletics Association (CHSAA) in 1980, kicking off a new era in athletics as several KDCD teams became state powerhouses. Led by Head Coach Chris Doutt Bullard, the field hockey team went undefeated for ten years in a row. The football team under Head Coach Scott Yates won its first state championship in 1986. 

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  • 1984–1989

Credit Union, Quindecim & KDS

Some of Kent Denver’s most beloved programs got their start in the 1980s. The Kent Denver Credit Union was founded in 1984 with math teacher Donna Duvall-Serrano as its first advisor. By 1988, it was the largest student-run credit union in the United States. 

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  • 1990s

Deeper Commitment to Community

Community service became a graduation requirement in 1990 and continues to be a core part of the Kent Denver experience today, with students providing 15,000+ hours to the community each year. As a campus community, Kent Denver also partnered with Summerbridge for the first time in 1994.

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  • 2000s

New Buildings and Programs

The 2000s saw a flurry of campus construction, including the Gates/Magness Science Center (2001), DeSo Field (2004) and the Student Center for the Arts (2006).

Speech & Debate also launched in this era. The team formed in 1999 with three faculty advisers and four students. Two years later, the team qualified for nationals for the first time and notched its first individual state championship in 2001.

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  • 2005

Madeleine Albright '55 Visits Campus

2005 saw the creation of the Distinguished Alumni Award with Secretary of State and Kent alumna Madeleine Korbel Albright ‘55 as its first honoree. The Secretary visited campus to receive her award and address the Kent Denver community.

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  • 2010

Robotics Takes Off!

Kent Denver Robotics was founded in 2010 by teaching fellow Bryan Rich '06, and the team qualified for the VEX World Championships for the first time in 2012. 

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  • 2011–2014

New Era of Sustainable Building

Kent Denver campus improvements continued with the completion of Schaden Dining Hall in 2011. Schaden Dining Hall became the first LEED Platinum school dining facility in the world and is beloved by students for its environmentally-friendly and delicious meals, including menu items sourced from the school’s apple orchard and beehives.

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  • 2015–2019

Next 100 Years Campaign

Under the leadership of Head of School Rand Harrington (2014-2021), Kent Denver launched The Next 100 Years Campaign to transform teaching and learning spaces on campus, invest more deeply in financial aid and faculty development, and expand individualized student learning opportunities through the Innovation Scholars Program.

Read More about 2015-2019
March 2020
  • 2020

Navigating the Pandemic

The Kent Denver campus closed for spring break in March 2020 just as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States. Instead of returning from spring break for their final weeks of class, the Kent Denver community stayed connected through online learning and end-of-school year celebrations, including a drive-through Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020.

Read More about March 2020
Five Heads of School Pose at the Centennial Celebration
  • 2022

Celebrating the Centennial

Kent Denver's Centennial celebrations culminated with a joyful event on campus which brought back countless alumni, faculty, trustees and friends. 

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Kent Denver Now
  • Kent Denver Now

An Eye Toward the Future

With 100+ years of history complete, Kent Denver now looks forward to an exciting next chapter for our school. As we continue to innovate—striving for excellence in all that we do to prepare students for full, meaningful and self-dependent lives in college and beyond—we will also draw inspiration from our past.

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Centennial Video: Celebrating 100 Years of Kent Denver School

Hear reflections from alumni, current and past teachers, and others who have contributed to our rich history.

More About Kent Denver

Our mission, vision and core values help define who we are.

Learn More

Student Receiving Diploma from Head of School David Braemer

Explore our beautiful 200-acre campus.

View Campus Map

Students canoeing on campus

Hear from students, teachers and alumni.

Community Voices

Model UN Student smiling