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The Highlands Ranch Metro District had 13 Highlands Ranch Citizens Academy participants graduate from the community engagement program on Feb. 22. The graduation ceremony was held at the Highlands Ranch Mansion.

The 13 graduates attended seven sessions throughout January and February 2022, learning about how Highlands Ranch operates, current local issues, and opportunities to get involved and engaged in the community.

The graduates include Paul Clarke, Jim Price, Chris Robinson, Jan Ruscio, Jack Troutman, John Vargas, Kay Simonson, Amit Gupta, John Brannock, Denise King, Jeff Rohr, Scott Densmore and Doug Bernero.

“I look forward to seeing how they get involved in Highlands Ranch and I would hope more residents would apply to the program,” said Metro District Board Chair Mark Dickerson. “The citizens academy provides the opportunity for residents to learn about everything from how the Metro District operates to hearing directly from the professionals like Sheriff Tony Spurlock and Fire Chief Bob Baker, who lead their respective agencies in providing our public safety services,” said Metro District General Manager Mike Renshaw. “I encourage residents to learn more about the program and consider applying in future years.”

“As a long-term resident of Highlands Ranch I’ve watched the physical transformation go from pasture land to thriving community. At the same time, much of the decision-making has shifted from the developers to the community itself,” said Clarke, a resident since 1989. “While the Highlands Ranch Citizen’s Academy provides great insight into the history, the present, and the future of Highlands Ranch, its greatest gift is an opportunity for residents to participate in processes that help ensure Highlands Ranch continues to thrive. The developers built the community. The Citizen’s Academy is a wonderful way to foster engagement within it.”

The Highlands Ranch Citizens Academy was founded by the metro district in 2020 as a citizen engagement program. The citizens academy aims to build the civic capacity of Highlands Ranch residents. This seven-session course, with an additional evening for graduation, exposes participants to key topics and issues in Highlands Ranch and introduces opportunities for civic involvement. Those issues include the community’s history, background of special districts, parks, recreation and open space, community infrastructure building and maintenance, public safety, financial strength of the Metro District, water and wastewater services, the HRCA’s roles and responsibilities, public safety and more.

Applications for the 2023 program will be available in fall 2022. For more information about the Highlands Ranch Citizens Academy, please visit highlandsranch.org/citizensacademy.