Uploaded: Thursday, June 7, 2012, 1:28 PM
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
Axel Cipres Perea
Jacqueline De La Cruz
Ricardo Flores Torres
Tanairi Gonzalez Martinez
Jose Gonzalez Sotelo
Henry Perez Mejia
Susan Allison Smith
Are you receiving Express, our free daily e-mail edition? See a sample and sign-up for Express.
Posted by Thomas M. Pamilla, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, 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 the Whisman Station neighborhood, 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 the Cuesta Park neighborhood, 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.