New Denver school named for senator, conservationist Joe Shoemaker
By Joe Vaccarelli
Joe Shoemaker (Photo Provided by the Greenway Foundation)
A new school in southeast Denver will bear the name of a former state senator credited with establishing the Auraria Higher Education Campus downtown and spearheading clean-up of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek.
The Denver Public Schools Board of Education approved naming the new Hampden Heights Expeditionary School, 3333 S. Havana St., after Joe Shoemaker, founder of the Greenway Foundation and the Foundation for Colorado State Parks. The school will open for the 2015-16 school year.
Shoemaker died in 2012, but his three sons were on hand at the Feb. 19 meeting for the reading of the proclamation and vote. His daughter was unable to attend.
“We are delighted and pleased,” said son Jeff Shoemaker, the executive director of both the Greenway Foundation and Foundation for Colorado State Parks.
The other finalists for the school name were Herman Motz, a retired educator from the area, and Hampden Heights after the neighborhood.
Shoemaker, a Republican, served in the Colorado Senate from 1962 to 1974, representing the area where the school will sit. He was known as an education advocate and devoted his personal life to enhancing and preserving the city’s waterways such as the South Platte River and Cherry Creek.
“Joe’s contributions to the city of Denver and our waterways was extraordinary,” said Denver school board member Anne Rowe. She represents the area and read the proclamation. “I look forward to opening Joe Shoemaker Elementary in August.”
Jeff Shoemaker said his father fought hard for public school funding, and the new school’s proximity to Cherry Creek makes it even more appropriate.
“It was a great night,” Shoemaker said. Dad “was all over the auditorium last night.”