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June 03, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, June 03, 2005

Enrollment to jump again Enrollment to jump again (June 03, 2005)

For the last two years, enrollment at Mountain View-Los Altos Union high school district schools has continued to grow, a trend that is expected to continue during the 2005-06 school year when more students than ever before are expected. Natthawut Wongsrikasem, a sophomore at LAHS, and Krissa Quero, a sophomore at MVHS, report on the student perspective at each school, as well as strategies for next year's challenges.
Bumper crop of students heading to Los Altos High

By Natthawut Wongsrikasem, sophomore, Los Altos High School

As the 2004-05 school year comes to a close, Los Altos High School administrators are preparing to tackle the next school year. The Class of 2007 was called the largest graduating class in the history of the school, and the Class of 2008 also set a record, bringing the total student body population to 1,611 students (compared to last year's 1,536).

As our campus has become crowded over the past two years, we now see that there is no relief in sight. The Class of 2009 will set a record for the third year running, adding a whopping 480 students, bringing the student population to 1,776 students.

Our administrators are committed to maintaining stability in classroom size to the greatest extent possible. Assistant Principal Cristy Dawson says, "It's a little surprising. ... When the economy took a downturn a while ago, logically you'd think that there might a fall or drop-off in student population, but we haven't seen that. It's a little fascinating how that happened."

In order to accommodate the huge number of students on campus, all portable classrooms will be continually in use. Teachers routinely teach five class periods in a day's work (out of the zero- through seventh-period school schedule). During their prep or free period, they've had an empty classroom to themselves. Now, teachers may need to share their classrooms with other teachers in order to have enough space and maintain a manageable classroom size.

This classroom-sharing strategy must be implemented to accommodate the increased number of students, said Dawson. "I don't think we have a choice. It's a hard thing but we just do our very best. We have to hire accordingly so that we can give the best education to all kids."

Mountain View High no exception to the trend

By Krissa Quero, sophomore, Mountain View High School

The student body at Mountain View High School is growing tremendously, with 1,780 students to enroll this fall. This growing population affects everyone, from school staff, teachers and community members to students.

As we enter the home stretch of the 2004-05 school year, administrators are making final preparations for the next year. It is hard to imagine all the work required to get everyone ready for his or her classes. Last-minute schedule changes as well as auditions for advanced choir groups and dance teams already took place. Counselors are dealing with student complaints.

Administrators are making sure there is adequate staff ready to teach and care for the growing number of students. When creating the master schedule, the goal is to make sure that no class size exceeds 32 students. "Putting together the master schedule for all sections is comparable to a jigsaw puzzle," said Assistant Principal Keith Moody.

We asked students to voice their opinion about the increasing growth of the student body. Many sophomores said that that they saw a dramatic change in their class sizes this year compared to last year. Instead of having 15 or more people in their class, there were at least 30 people or more this year.

As a result of the additional students, the school will be forced to schedule classes during zero and seventh periods, in addition to the regular six periods each day. The use of zero and seventh period classes enables students to have free periods. Many students use the time to access tutorial services.

The transition from smaller classes to larger classes was successful for many students, who say they are looking forward to the next school year and years to come.

Senior Kei Higaki said, "When you go to college, you have to adjust to new living conditions and everything. Sometimes, having a class of 500 students can be overwhelming. So, being used to working in large groups in high school can actually help someone later in life."

Sophomore Lauren Marcus said, "The more students we have, the harder and more hectic it is to plan rallies and events. On the other hand, it is a lot of fun."

Despite the fact that there will be an additional 500 or more freshmen expected next school year, many students feel very fortunate to be given so many resources: tutorials, a career center, and classes of their choice. There is an optimistic atmosphere about the additional 500 students coming next fall.

So far, no major budget cuts have been announced, and due to the great need for additional funding, we hope to keep it that way.

"The Mountain View-Los Altos district has tremendous community support, which enables our high schools to have a strong foundation and be successful," said Moody, adding that he appreciates the "endless support" from students and wishes them a happy summer.

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