Five-Week Thematic Session JUNE 7 - JULY 7, 2023

Dawson Summer Initiative FAQs

Please contact DSI with any questions:

Call us:  303-381-0444
Email us:

List of 17 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. Where are the classes held? What times do the scholars arrive and depart?

    Classes are held on the Dawson School campus in Lafayette, Colorado. Most class sessions are held in Henderson Hall and scholars meet in the Arts Center for speakers and presentations.

    Scholars are asked to arrive by 9:00 a.m. and they depart each day at 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
  • Q. How does transportation work?

    Dawson Summer Initiative provides free bus transportation at local stops that are, on average, no more than a fifteen minute drive from your home. Most scholars use this mode of transportation. Others get rides to Dawson, and some do both, given a variety of circumstances and daily commitments. For those who live further away than the designated stops, a ride must be provided to one of the local bus stops or directly to Dawson.
  • Q. Why is attendance so important? Why do I have to attend every day?

    This is an extremely collaborative effort during a short time frame, and to miss part of or an entire day sets a team back significantly. Students may be absent ONE day, and one day only.
  • Q. Here are sample bus stops (final routes are based on enrollment)

    Route # 1:                   Services –Superior, Louisville, Lafayette
    A)  Eldorado K-8 School (South Lot), 3351 S Indiana Street., Superior     8:12am/5pm
    B)    Ascent Community Church entrance, 550 S McCaslin Blvd, Louisville  8:24am/4:45pm
    C)    355 W. South Boulder Road – near 287 (Flatirons Church/SW corner of parking lot), Lafayette 8:38am/4:32pm
    Route # 2:          Services – Longmont/Niwot/Frederick
    A)   Highway 119 and County Road 7.5: dirt parking area SW corner 7:45am/5:10pm
    B)    Valvoline Oil Change (South-west parking lot) – 1646 Pace Street near 17th Ave, Longmont   8:05am/4:45pm
    C)    Timberline K-8, 233 E. Mountain Avenue, Longmont 8:10am/4:40pm
    D)    Longmont High School (pick up will be on Warren Street, in front of school) Longmont  8:15am/4:35pm
    E)    Target (East side of parking lot) – Hover Street & Nelson Road, Longmont   8:25am/4:30pm
    F)    Rocky Mountain Christian Church, 9447 Niwot Road, south entrance, Niwot  8:35am/4:20pm

    Route # 3:           Services –-Broomfield, Erie, Westminster
    A)   Kohl’s Parking Lot –120th & Sheridan (11875 N. Sheridan Blvd), Westminster   7:50am/5:20pm
    B)    Aspen Creek K-8 School, 5500 Aspen Creek Dr. – (Bus Loading area on Aspen Creek Dr.),
    Broomfield  8:10am/5:10pm
    C)    Safeway – W 144th Ave & Lowell Blvd (North-east corner of parking lot), Broomfield   8:15am/4:55pm
    D)    Erie Community Center – 450 Powers St. (East side of parking lot near Tennis Courts), Erie 8:35am/4:35pm
    Route # 4:           Services – Boulder
    A) 15thStreet & Quince AvenueBoulder  8:05am/5:05pm
    B) Safeway – 28th & Iris (East end of Parking Lot near RTD stop), Boulder  8:15am/4:55pm
    C) Across street from Nepal Cuisine at 4720 Table Mesa Dr, off Tantra Dr, Boulder  8:25am/4:45pm

  • Q. Is there any homework? How about grades?

    This is a FREQUENTLY asked question––No, THERE IS NO HOMEWORK, though sometimes scholars read, research, and create in areas of interest on their own time. We also do not grade scholars on their work. This is a chance to learn and explore with no repercussions; it is true learning-for-learning’s sake.
  • Q. What is the community atmosphere like?

    A large part of being a scholar is who we are as a person. Scholars are held to very high standards, both intellectually and socially. Because this is a voluntary community, scholars who do not represent the Dawson Summer Initiative community well will be asked to leave immediately. This has happened very rarely, fortunately. In past years, scholars have shown the utmost respect for themselves and each other, the staff, the facilities, and our guest speakers.
  • Q. Is this a competitive program?

    Dawson Summer Initiative is for high-achieving students who have very good grades and strong skills working with others. Some applicants are recommended by a teacher or by a school staff member. Others hear about the program through a family friend or from a peer. Unfortunately, there is limited space for many qualified students. Student essays and school recommendations are paramount in our admission decision, as well as the applicant’s desire to attend and availability.
  • Q. How are the five weeks broken up?

    Typically in the first half of the program, 80 scholars are divided into 4 sections. Scholars complete a questionnaire and are placed into groups, becoming “experts” in their areas of study. The day is combined with guest speakers, exploratory class time, physical education, and a video class.

    In the second half of the program, new sections are formed for team projects, blending together the expertise learned in the prior weeks. Team projects take us up through the Final Exhibition, a time for scholars to display the knowledge and concepts they have developed.
  • Q. If I attend the five-week session one summer, may I apply for the following five-week program the next year?

    Because we would like to offer this tuition-free program to as many students as possible, you may NOT attend the five-week thematic session two summers in a row. If you successfully complete the five-week summer session, you may attend a two-week Leadership session the following summer at Dawson (no application necessary).
  • Q. What schools do scholars come from?

    Most of the schools in the Boulder Valley and St. Vrain school districts have been represented during the past four summers.  There have been five schools from Adams 12 School District (Hulstrom Options K-8 School; Rocky Top Middle School; STEM Magnet Lab SchoolStargate Charter Schooland Westlake Middle School). We have also had students attend from Denver and Fort Collins, providing their own transportation.

    Comprehensive list of schools:
    Altona Middle School
    Angevine Middle School
    Aspen Creek K-8 School
    Broomfield Heights Middle School
    Carbon Valley Academy
    Casey Middle School
    Centennial Middle School
    Coal Creek Canyon (Golden)
    Coal Ridge Middle School
    D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School (Denver)
    Eldorado K-8 School
    Erie Middle School
    Flagstaff Academy
    Horizons K-8 School
    Hulstrom K-8 School
    Imagine Charter School
    Jefferson Academy (Broomfield)
    Longs Peak Middle School
    Louisville Middle School
    Lyons Middle/Senior High School
    Manhattan Middle School
    Mead Middle School
    Monarch K-8 School
    Peak to Peak Charter School
    Platt Middle School
    Preston Middle School (Fort Collins)
    Prospect Ridge Academy
    Southern Hills Middle School
    STEM Magnet Lab School
    Stargate Charter School
    Summit Charter School
    Sunset Middle School
    Thunder Valley K-8
    Timberline K-8
    Trail Ridge Middle School
    Twin Peaks Charter Academy
    Westlake Middle School
    Westview Middle School

  • Q. Who can apply to the five-week summer program?

    Students who are currently enrolled full-time in grade six or grade seven may apply to the program. Students come from public middle schools in St. Vrain Valley, Boulder Valley and Adams 12 school districts. A typical applicant is strong academically and collaborates well.
  • Q. Is the program a camp? A summer school?

    Dawson Summer Initiative considers itself an “academic program,” and is separate from the Dawson Summer Camp Program. Over the past years, scholars have noted how different the summer session is from school. There is one central theme and entire days are designed for scholars to explore and work together.
  • Q. Are there any costs associated with the program?

    No. Class instruction and materials, transportation at local stops, and lunch are all included at no cost to the student and his/her family.
  • Q. What kind of food is served for lunch?

    Scholars eat together in Dawson’s Dining Commons each day. There is hot lunch (including a daily vegetarian option), a sandwich bar, a salad bar, and beverages provided at no cost. If a scholar does not wish to eat the food served in the Dining Commons, he/she may bring a lunch from home. The kitchen staff does not cook with or use nuts or oils that contain nuts, and Sun Flower Seed Butter and Soy Butter have replaced traditional peanut butter. There are gluten-free options as well.
  • Q. Is there a physical education class or outside; time such as recess?

    Scholars have a 50-minute Fitness/Wellness class each day where they can be outside and get some exercise. Walking up and down the hill to the Arts Center and around campus also gives scholars the opportunity to be outside in the fresh air. 
  • Q. How big is the program? The classes?

    We usually admit 80 scholars, and sections are typically 20 scholars. Guest speakers present to the group as a whole.
  • Q. What does the application entail?

    The first three parts of the application - Parent/Guardian Information Form; Parent/Guardian Contract & Responses, and Student Essays - are for the student and parent/guardian and include:
    • Questions regarding general contact and school information
    • Contract regarding the attendance policy and release of records
    • Parent Responses (2) and essays for student applicants (3)
    The remainder of the application is for the applicant’s school, to be given to school personnel by the applicant:
    • Two Teacher Recommendations: To be completed by two teachers who have taught the applicant within the past 10 months in an academic subject (math, history, English, or science) 
    • Principal/Counselor/TAG Coordinator Form: To be completed by someone who can comment on the applicant’s school performance (includes grades and report card, attendance, and CMAS scores)