kitchen table math, the sequel: High School Quest Continues

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

High School Quest Continues

Just a quick recap. The local school district is moving 9th grade to the high schools next year. Local schools are hosting "parent information" nights this month. My sons attend a very highly rated charter school in town that has a 9th grade and is investigating an extension to the charter to include high school. Here's a report on visit #2 on our HS odyssey. (Visit #1 is here.)

What a difference attitude makes. A week or so ago, husband, 8th grade son and I attended a parent night at another high school in Fort Collins. This principal and his team of 5 counselors spent almost 45 minutes on the academics at the school, then invited everyone to go on a tour hosted by senior year peer counselors.
We learned about:
  • AP classes available to incoming freshman and sophomores,
  • how many credits are required to graduate,
  • how rigorous the curriculum is,
  • how many AP tests taken resulted in scores of 4 or 5,
  • how the school ranked in Newsweek's annual ratings (top 5%).
The principal was humorous, concerned, and confident. (And very tall!) He acknowledged that the school didn't have all the transition logistics completely worked out, but felt they were working towards a strong plan.

Now I realize that AP courses can be controversial (not necessarily rigorous, poor college prep, etc.); however, hearing a principal encourage every student to take at least one class in their school career is pretty powerful. I'm a parent and a teacher. I know the statistics of the general population. In the district, under 70% will continue their education after high school, 40% at a 4 year school.

The slide show consisted of 6 or 7 slides that covered the core courses required at 9th & 10th grades, important dates in the registration process and a "brag" slide about the school awards, rankings, athletics teams.

Clubs were mentioned. The school won 8 of 10 awards for having the most involved student body in the state. (They weren't eligible one year and after 7 consecutive wins, Wells Fargo quit giving out the award.) The principal even mentioned "Lambkin Pride". Yes, the mascot is a lamb. This school is sending counselors to the local jr. highs to discuss student options (as opposed to students) and they have one heck of a prep rally in April that 9th & 10th graders are given special t-shirts for and invited to attend.

I did find it interesting that one counselor who spoke told the audience of 400 that they didn't have time to meet with all incoming 2009-10 students and their parents individually, then the principal promised 20 minutes to anyone who wanted to learn more about the school. (It would help if you came in groups, he quipped.)

When the principal was done, we headed out to find a peer counselor. On our tour around the campus (1/4 mile from gym to theater) we learned that there are 3 main wings, grouped by subject, and each has a computer lab for teachers to use. Not everyone gets a locker. Hardly anyone uses them. The school has sand volleyball pits outside the cafeteria. The main gym holds 2522 people, and so on. My son had no questions. (We were embarrassing him!) One other boy asked if he could wear his baseball hat in classes. (Yes, but some teachers make you remove them.)

We were the last group touring with our peer counselor, Ryan, and he volunteered that he had been a graduate of the same charter jr. high that my son currently attends. He really felt prepared when he came to this school and has whizzed through several AP courses.

I had to ask..."Did you take AP psychology?"
"Next semester, he answered, "It's supposed to be the easiest AP course you can take."

BTW- My son loved this school.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck! how many more of these to consider?