Catalyst Alternative Private High School Boulder, CO

About Catalyst High School

While our school offers rolling admissions, flexible curriculum, and interest based education, the heart and soul of Catalyst High School are truly the people who embody our community. All are involved. Our principal, staff, and board members, as well as our students, their families, and their primary support networks are committed to supporting our students’ well being and success.

Our team helps students develop positive attitudes and productive actions by cultivating constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and a positive identity. Catalyst High School is built on solid research that shows that teens who engage in these types of activities become happier, healthier, and more resistant, and become more successful adults. (Search Institute-40 Assets) At Catalyst, students tailor this process to make it meaningful and relevant to them as individuals.

For an overview of our school and programs, download our brochure.

Communities We Serve

Students come to Catalyst from across the Colorado Front Range.  Many students have transferred to Catalyst from BVSD, Adams, Jefferson and St. Vrain school districts.  In addition, easy bus access opens the doors to students from communities throughout Metro Denver including: Arvada, Lakewood, Westminster, Thornton, Northglen, Brighton, Broomfield, Boulder, Louisville, Lafayette, Erie, and Longmont.

How Catalyst is Different from Other Schools

At Catalyst High School, the student assumes responsibility of his or her educational experience. This includes attendance, what to study, and when to take a class. The school schedule is not a 7:30-3:00 seven-period day, rather it is more like a college schedule, with free time built in. The atmosphere is more like a pleasant, casual office, with quite places to work, yet freedom to move around. The pace is based on individual needs. It usually starts relatively slowly and accelerates over time. Finally, during their final months before graduation, rather than catching “senioritis,” Catalyst students finish high school with a crescendo!

How Catalyst is Similar to Other Schools

While we take a different approach to the model of learning, Catalyst offers a similar, comprehensive curriculum as is found in more traditional schools. The most recent Colorado Academic Standards and 21st Century Skills provide framework to create a well-balanced academic program. Objective and widely-recognized assessments measure achievement and growth. A Catalyst transcript looks like a normal block-schedule transcript, with traditional course titles and letter grades. And, Catalyst High School is accredited by North Central Association, a division of Advanc-Ed, the organization that accredits 26,000 high schools and universities through the United States and the world.


In 1998, Ed Porritt was involved in the creation of a highly successful program called Chinook Alternatives for the Boulder Valley School District. At the time, Ed created the contract based, short block schedule, and one-on-one teacher to student interaction model of learning to help engage students who were not thriving in standard classrooms. Catalyst High School is built on the foundation of Chinook’s success.

In August 2007, Catalyst opened its doors as a non-profit high school with a full team of former Chinook teachers. Since its inception, Catalyst has continued to evolve rapidly, with new ideas from new research and new teachers, and with more support for students whose academic and individual needs require a more personalized and responsive educational experience. In May 2010, Catalyst High School earned the highest level of accreditation offered by NCA CASI.

Questions to Consider When Looking at Alternative High Schools

When considering a new school, give yourself choices, and look at several schools. Spend at least an hour talking to the admissions counselor at each school. Also, talk to students and spend plenty of time walking around each school. During your visits, think about these questions:

• Do I feel comfortable and safe here, so I can be who I really am?
• Do the teachers really care about me, personally?
• Will I be challenged, without getting stressed out?
• Will I be able to maximize my strengths and study my passions?
• Will the teachers know about my academic needs and treat me with respect?
• How much control will I have over my educational life?
• When I have completed the graduation requirements, will I be prepared to do what I want to do next?

Non-Discrimination Policy:

Catalyst High School is an equal opportunity nonprofit corporation and educational institution. Catalyst High School does not discriminate against anyone in the school community, including students, employees or volunteers on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability or religion.


The heart and soul of Catalyst
is truly in the people who embody
our community.