Alta Vista graduates make it, after all

Of all the graduation ceremonies taking place within the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, it is arguably at the Alta Vista High School commemoration where emotions run highest.

After all, these are the kids who "weren't supposed to make it," said the school's principal, Bill Pierce. Whether they came to the district's continuation school after a string of behavioral issues, academic struggles or because they simply didn't fit in at the district's two traditional schools, the vast majority of young men and women who come to the campus tucked behind Mountain View High School are able to turn their act around and graduate on schedule.

This year, 57 young men and women received diplomas from Alta Vista at the May 30 commencement. Many of them will go on to community college and some will move on to earn a four-year degree. For some, they will be the first in their families to go on to higher education, and some will even be the first to have graduated from high school.

Alta Vista is a small school with a small staff, but according to Pierce, the high school's teachers work just as hard as any other instructor in the district. A profile of the school, which ran in the Voice in early 2011, found that Alta Vista attracts teachers who thrive on working with teens who have all but given up on school.

One such teacher, Doreen Bracamontes, has been teaching so-called "at-risk" teens her entire career, which began in a rough Oakland neighborhood. She feels a duty to help "students who lack support," and said she finds the work incredibly rewarding.

One of the biggest reasons students end up at the school, Pierce said, is that they simply can't handle the competitive nature or the pace of the four-year college-prep track.

With teachers like Bracamontes on staff, Pierce said, most kids feel they can go at a speed that is comfortable for them. That combined with the more individualized attention they receive at Alta Vista is a winning recipe for reform, he explained.

--- --- ---

Alta Vista High School Class of 2012

Berry Ahuet

Stephen Bo

Michael Cabral

Marlen Cigarrero

Axel Cipres Perea

Jiselle Correa

Justin Cuevas

Kendra Daggett

Jacqueline De La Cruz

Jesse Dispoto

Sandra Dixon

Ana Flores

Jaime Flores

Victor Flores

Ricardo Flores Torres

Javier Gamero

Tanairi Gonzalez Martinez

Jose Gonzalez Sotelo

Christian Grande

Edward Guo

Alexis Hill

Ray Ibarra

James Knight

Monecia Kongaika

Logan Korecky

Luisa Latu

Cliff Liu

James Matsuba

Luis Mejia

Nicole Mensick

Victor Miller

Amairany Palma

Reyna Palma

Jonathan Palmas

Lilliana Paredes

Henry Perez Mejia

Jenna Preston

Adrian Ramirez

Jose Raya

Brenda Rivera

Ray Robante

Cynthia Roldan

Jason Rookard

Jessica Saldivar

Aron Sanders

Arthur Schweitzer

Robert Silvia

Susan Allison Smith

Bibiana Stiles

Ausra Tamosiunaite

Gen Thenuwara

Allison Uz

Elimar Villanueva

David Whitmore

Jessica Whitworth

Yaoqun Yan

Bryan Young


Posted by Thomas M. Pamilla, a resident of Castro City
on Jun 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Congratulations to Principal bill Pierce, and to all of the outstanding teachers, counselors and volunteers at Alta Vista, and especially to all of the graduates who are such role models for all of us. You should all be so proud of your achievement.

Posted by Realist, a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 8, 2012 at 8:53 am

It would be better to keep these kids in the regular school system. This program is just designed to exclude these children from the right to the mainstream high schools. The expectations are much lower at Alta Vista.

I know several former Alta Vista grads. One is in jail. Another just had her third child out of wedlock and is living on welfare. A few I know started college courses, but never finished with a degree of any sort. One is left wondering if they would have had a better chance in life if they were never kicked out of the regular schools.

Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

Sorry Realist, most of these students did not want to be in "regular school". If you have taught in "regular school" at the middle and high school level recently ( I have 4 years), you know that some kids and families don't 'get it'. Special teachers and principals allow them a second chance to try. But they don't have to try in a type of environment that they don't like, with peers who have a different mind-set.
The high school District's Middle College and Freestyle also allow kids/families with a slightly different mind-set to get educated through high school diploma level. Even the GED high-school equivalency program allows a few, after they drop out, to change their minds and graduate [3rd chance]
Alta Vista High is a model program and it's recognized throughout the state as such.

Posted by Lauren, a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 1, 2013 at 6:55 pm

As a graduate of Alta Vista, I can speak both to its strengths and weaknesses. I feel that the overwhelming amount of negative responses is completely unwarranted. I have attended both public and private schools and can tell you that I encountered some of the most inspiring teachers of my educational career at Alta Vista. Although students definitely pose challenges in terms of keeping them interested and engaged, simply because they may have previously "screwed up" does not mean that ignorant people should simply "write them off."

I am among the "few [that] started college courses" - I actually attend a great university out of state and will be graduating early with honors as a double-major. Perpetuating negative stereotypes does not speak to the students that attend that institution; rather it speaks to misdirected ignorance and arrogance.

While at Alta Vista, I did encounter several students who had experienced run-ins with the law, and there were several teen parents, however the lesson of Alta Vista (outside of those taught in the classroom) is that we all have time to better ourselves. Some students take longer than others to realize this. There is one teen mother in particular that I still think of as an example of how one should handle the challenge of teen motherhood: she adores her daughter, helps out at her daughter's school, graduated high school (from Alta) and now attends college part-time while working. She puts her daughter before herself.

People shouldn't make sweeping judgments about situations they do not possess adequate knowledge about.

Go Aztecs.

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Touring the Southern California “Ivies:” Pomona and Cal Tech
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 5 comments | 2,582 views

Chai Brisket
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 1,833 views

Couples: Parallel Play or Interactive Play?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 944 views

Just say no
By Jessica T | 4 comments | 820 views