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Mile High Morning: How a passion project of a local elementary school drew the attention of Bradley Chubb


The Lead

In a classroom at John H. Amesse Elementary School on Tuesday, before the children came in to talk with him, Bradley Chubb got to know the teacher and the spirit of learning he was there to support.

There, Chubb — on site to present a $30,000 donation from his foundation, the Broncos and the NFL Foundation — met with Roy Barnett Jr., the school's dean of technology and media, arts and technology teacher.

In that classroom, Barnett explained that his main goal with his students is to help them find their voice and express themselves through photography, filmmaking and podcasting to tell the stories of their lives.

"For me the big thing about what I want to do with students is all about narrative — the idea of telling your own story — because I think it's critically important that we get to a place where we're able to tell our story," Barnett says. "Because in a lot of communities, when it comes to quote-unquote impoverished Black and brown or poor white communities, the narrative is told by people who don't know us. And I want to get to a place to where students are in control of the narrative and have agency around that. In these communities ... there's movie producers, there's directors, there's photographers, there's musicians — and it's simply a thing of teaching them the basic skills of how to use the tools that are available. And so if you can teach them those tools, then they're able to then, as they grow up, take what they have learned here and then apply it to a career, if they choose to. They're able to do the things and to tell their stories."

For Barnett, the son of two teachers, the act of creating is a guiding principle in and of itself. While he and his students may be creating pleasing works to the eye or ear, the driving purpose is ultimately about communicating what they feel, which is maybe not the most instinctive process for everybody.

"That's where it started with me," Barnett says. "I couldn't communicate how I felt, and I didn't have the words to translate what I was thinking and feeling. And so creativity gave me those tools and gives me those tools to a degree that you can't have with just language. And so I think that showing the kids that they are creative, because again, when it comes to narrative, so much of the narrative is negative surrounding who they are — particularly, like I said, Black, immigrant populations. But who we are has nothing to do with that narrative. Just showing them that they can be amazing because they are amazing."

To help achieve that, Barnett submitted an application to the Denver Public Schools Foundation's A to Z Fund to purchase podcast and photography equipment — and on Tuesday, Chubb, the Broncos and the NFL Foundation announced they were making the $30,000 donation to power Barnett's project.

"One of the most important things that I'll be able to do is get tools in kids' hands to where they can take it out of here," Barnett says. "I want them to take these things home, to interview their parents, to interview their community. Some of the stories that I've heard from families, from students — my students throughout the years — how some of them got to the country, some of the families have been in Montbello for generations. Everyone's story is worth telling."

While Tuesday was the first time Chubb and Barnett met, the nearly palpable excitement with which Barnett spoke made it easy for Chubb to understand that the mission was clearly in the right hands.

"He's passionate about what he does, and [he's somebody] who's passionate and really cares and not only for bettering themselves, but he really wants to see an impact on these kids' lives," Chubb says. "I could relate to that as well and … join our forces and use his passion and his technology and everything and me doing a donation just to join forces and help these kids take their learning to a whole new level is huge. It's really exciting."

Even after the conversation, when Chubb spoke to the class and fielded questions about how he became a football player, the idea of broadening the children's horizons remained key.

"Growing up, the main thing's, 'Oh, I want to be a professional football player. I want to be that,'" Chubb says. "So you put all your mind and all your focus into that and you might not find yourself because you focused on one thing and you might not find your creative side, or you might not find that you actually could take pictures or you actually could produce music, because you always focused on just football, football, football. Even though football worked for me, I want these kids to understand that's not the only way that you have to be successful, you know what I mean?"

And while Chubb's visit won't inspire the entire group of students to become professional football players, a visit in elementary school can have a remarkable impact many years from now, as Barnett himself can attest.

"I remember when I was in elementary school — I don't remember why — but there were these Japanese visitors that visited my school, and so for my entire life, my dream was to go to Japan," Barnett says. "So when I got to Oklahoma State, I was able to study abroad in Japan for a year, and that was a life-altering experience, because where I grew up in Tulsa — north Tulsa — it's very segregated … it's a rough community.

"So, being exposed to people and experiences, you can't know what that will do to you and the trajectory that that can have on your life."

Below the Fold

Denver's upset win over the Cowboys may be even more impressive than you think, as CBS Sports' John Breech writes. Not only was this the Broncos' first win over a one-loss team this late in the season since the 2015 season, but the game also created a disparity between favorite and underdog that hadn't been since in 20 years, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

"The fact that the Cowboys trailed by 30 in a game where they were double-digit favorites wasn't the only notable aspect about the point spread in this game," Breech added. "Before the loss, the Cowboys were 7-0 against the spread on the season and if they had covered, they would have tied the 2007 Patriots for the third-longest streak of covering the spread to start a season. However, that streak is now dead thanks to a dominating win by a Broncos team that will now be going in the history books with Tom Brady's 2001 Patriots, a team that would eventually go on to win the Super Bowl, something Broncos fans will be hoping that their team can match."

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