Overview & School History

UPark building

University Park General Information

Principal: Eric Atonna
Assistant Principal: Natalie Jacobsen
Phone: 720-424-3410
Fax: 720-424-3435
Address: 2300 S. Saint Paul Street, Denver, CO 80210
Mascot: Owl
School Colors: Red & White


History poster graphic

Located in the Observatory Park neighborhood of south Denver, University Park Elementary School (UPark) serves K-5 students from all areas of Denver through the DPS school choice program, with an average of 50% of our families “choicing in.”

UPark is a community comprised of engaged students, great teachers, staff and leaders, and involved families who all work together to make UPark one of the best schools in Denver. In fact, in the fall of 2019, we were ranked 12th among all Metro Denver elementary schools by the Denver Business Journal.

At UPark, our highly talented teachers meet our kindergartners at their level as they begin their academic journey, and our fifth graders leave UPark confident and prepared for the rigors of middle school.

Our teachers are lifelong learners with training to differentiate their instruction, challenging and ensuring success for all learners. Our low student-teacher ratios, together with our robust instructional support staff, allow us to provide instruction that targets the needs of each individual student, as well as providing personalized learning experiences in every classroom.

We have robust gifted and talented programming that aims to push our GT students to new heights, while providing all UPark students with exposure to enrichment learning opportunities through our GT inclusion model. We meet the needs of our diverse community of learners through supports from our reading intervention team, ESL supports for our second language learners, as well as with inclusion and pull out support for students on IEPs.

In addition to striving for academic excellence, we pride ourselves on what we do to nurture the development of the whole child. Physical fitness, wellness, the arts, and technology are all integral and valued parts of the UPark educational experience. All of our students attend PE, art, drama, music, and library on a weekly basis. We also focus on social emotional learning and character building, with an emphasis on UPark’s five core values of caring, cooperation, responsibility, respect, and joy.

We offer Discovery Link before and after school care as well as many different before and after school enrichment opportunities such as band, martial arts, woodworking and dance.

At UPark, we strongly value cultural and linguistic diversity, and we are proud to have students from around the world in our learning community. Currently, we have more than 20 different nations represented and 10 languages spoken among our student population, with Mandarin and Arabic being the most common (outside of English), followed by French and then Spanish.

Our innovative Wellness Program, which encourages and supports healthy eating and physical activity both at school and home, aims to make it easy for students to make healthy choices every day. Since the inception of the Wellness Program in 2003, it has garnered UPark numerous awards, and even earned the school the title of “Healthiest School in Denver” from the Denver Post.

UPark Elementary counts on a strong PTA and a community of parents who readily offer their support to the entire education team, providing ongoing fundraising, classroom volunteers, support for school events, and more. We are a school whose parental community generously gives many hours of volunteer service and raises significant amounts of money in support of the goals that are collaboratively created by our principal, teachers and parents.

If you are looking for a caring learning environment where students come first, we invite you to visit UPark to learn more about our community of mighty thinkers and doers.

School Boundaries

Map of UPark boundaries

School History

University Park Elementary School was once known as “the little red brick schoolhouse” to neighborhood residents.

School front entrance

John Babcock, a town trustee and legislator, owned several acres in University Park. In the 1890s, Babcock donated a portion of his estate to the school and served as the school’s benefactor for more than 15 years. The school was built in 1893 to serve the children of the University of Denver’s faculty and staff.  The original building was a red brick structure that contained four classrooms and a lunchroom.

After the University of Denver moved from downtown to its current location, the population of the neighborhood grew steadily. At the time, the University purchased a large amount of land in the area and sold lots to individuals for $150 each. University Park’s first PTA was organized in 1914 and was seventeen members strong.

In 1924, the school added a Spanish-style expansion designed by architect Lester Ernest Varian, who also designed the Phipps mansion. The building was considered cutting edge architecture as it was equipped with five classrooms, a teachers’ room, lockers, a shower room, a clinic, and fire-proof corridors. During that same year, the school became the training school for student teachers from the university.

In the 1940s, the school could no longer handle the large numbers of student teachers and returned exclusively to educating of the area’s children. By 1948, the school ran double sessions to cope with over-crowding. The following year, the building was expanded to include an auditorium, eighteen classrooms, two kindergarten rooms, a new room for teachers, a cafeteria, PTA kitchen, visual aid room, and library.

Historical article about UPark