Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Weighing In On Angel’s Gate as A High School; The Question We Should Really Be Asking Ourselves is Not Why…We Should Be Asking Why Not? A Prominent Educational Facility Could Be Built Here; It Just Needs Wings To Fly & the Residents to Tell the School District How to Do It
By Diana L. Chapman
I watched four high school students bravely get up and talk about the torturous learning environment they are currently living in at San Pedro High School.
Despite the hoards of resident’s complaints against the proposed building of a new high school at Angel’s Gate, the students stepped forward asking desperately for the 800 to 1,200 seat high school to proceed on the 28 acre site.
“Yes, we need to save the foxes and work on the noise pollution,” one 12th grade girl told the crowd in regards to their complaints. “But we really need more room. It’s like we are playing football everyday. It’s so crowded, it’s hard to get to class on time.”
Classes are so overbooked at their current school, the students said, some kids stand during the entire class or are crammed right up to the teacher’s desk. Going into the hallways is like heading onto the freeway at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to face a gushing onslaught of traffic. And education is spiraling downward because the teachers can’t teach in classrooms that are jammed like sardine cans with students.
This explains right away to me why we have a 50 percent dropout rate in Los Angeles Unified. The kids begged for help, but some of the residents failed to use their ears. One man told the students to climb aboard and join the real world. Los Angeles, he said, is overcrowded “so get use to it.” Residents clapped at that. It seems nowhere in San Pedro will our community accept the building of a desperately needed new high school. That must speak loudly to our kids about how our community feels toward them. The students who spoke at the Los Angeles Unified School meeting held at Dana Middle School March 13 won’t stand to gain anything; the school won’t be built until 2012. They are thinking about the future.
Perhaps we should too.
I would ask you now to take the time to pause, step out of your box and imagine the tremendous educational opportunities that could be at Angel’s Gate. For just a moment, stop worrying about the traffic, the den of foxes, the concern a high school would mar the tranquility of the site -- a location which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is constantly beaten by pulsating winds. Think instead for a moment at what a emarkable educational facility Angels’ Gate could become – which will only happen if residents force the issue.
Currently, Angel’s Gate hosts a plethora of underused possibilities – all of which should absolutely be integrated into the proposed high school’s regime. If a high school becomes the inner-hub of the area, think of the potential. Students could study marine biology at the Mammal Marine Care Center and help feed fish to the rescued sea lions. They can learn firsthand about World War II and what it meant to California at the Fort MacArthur Museum and visit the underground bunkers that still exist there today. They can learn from a slew of amazing artists at the Cultural Arts Center. Students can learn how to save birds and study the impact oil has when its washed into the sea at the International Bird Rescue Center.
Everyone of these facilities is located at the site.
In short, this could be one of the best, hands-on academic facilities in all of Los Angeles. An educator told me once that it was a shame we tried to do everything in a classroom; the real learning, he said, happens out in the field. Here is a place where all kinds of study and research could be adopted. Students also could volunteer at many of these remarkable resources and keep them alive and running for generations to come.
We can complain about the den of foxes at Angel’s Gate being in danger because of the construction and the marine mammals ears popping due to jackhammers and the traffic that could pour into the campus. These are critical issues that need to be addressed.
Yes, the district needs to protect the foxes and might have to build a preserve for them on the site, which would provide students with yet another educational opportunity.
The residents’ contend that vehicles should not be allowed to access the school using Alma Street -- an argument that should be adhered to due to the already existing number of accidents on the narrow residential street. The residents know them all. They've been counting.
Community members want more than the proposed 113 parking spaces. That too makes sense, because the neighbors don’t want – and should not have to deal with -- an overflow of cars parking on their streets.
Another man feared juvenile destruction that can sometimes accompany neighborhoods set near schools. The district needs to find away to provide the security the neighbors seek.
LAUSD School Board Member Richard Vladovic told the crowd that he would pull together a team of educators to design this school. I propose that he not just use educators, but include residents and community leaders who understand what Angel’s Gate can provide for students, but also buff down the severe impact a high school could have if its not built keeping the neighborhood in mind.
All I am asking right now is that residents think about it. Think about the potential and the much greater chance we – as a community will have – to churn out kids who will care about their environment, protect and rescue wildlife, understand the atrocities of World War II and the way it played out here in California and explore the arts with true artists working right next door.
Here, we will be molding well-rounded, future citizens. If we do not do this, as Richard Vladovic has indicated, our high school – San Pedro High – will go year round.
Then think about this; This means 1,000 kids will be streaming through our streets – without adult guidance because many parents will be working -- all day long. They will receive a lesser education, according to the school board member, because studies have shown year round schooling is not nearly as successful as traditional year round.
And then think about this: What will all that mean for the future of all of San Pedro? Rather than send the kids packing with shoes to the streets, I'd much rather give the kids wings they need to learn to soar the sky at Angel's Gate. Then perhaps, we will truly be making good citizens.


Anonymous said...

When will common sense prevail? We MUST relieve over crowding at San Pedro High School. However, we don't need to build a completely new high school solve the problem.

I support a school at Angel's Gate. However, I believe it should be a Ninth Grade Academy of around 900 students. They won't have cars and it won't be too many students. They can still participate in after school sports, tall flags, etc. at the high school and will spend their next three years and graduate from San Pedro, the school where many members of their family has graduated. This keeps the "sense of community" that makes San Pedro unique.

In addition, it provides close supervision and intensive instruction for ninth graders, the key transition year from middle school. This has been successful in Lynwood and other places.

Lastly, it doesn't solve the over crowding at San Pedro, but greatly ameliorates the present condition. With declining enrollments in elementary schools, the students who attend the Charter School, and those who opt for private school, San Pedro High School will be back to reasonable numbers as soon as we get this ninth grade academy built. The sooner the better!

Neal Kleiner

Scott Carter said...

The SP area People voted for Mr Richard Vladovic and his agenda for this school to take place at Angels Gate.

Let me address the "hoards" of NIMBYs that typically occur for right or wrong reasons here. In San Pedro, we have a Very Reactionary crowd compared to other LA City areas. Because WE are a GREAT Community, rightfully, it is necessary for many of the NIMBYs to 'air' their concerns and ALSO to be intellectually honest about the situation and not just one-sided and greedy.

There was a High School in Pt Fermin before, and its prior impact was minimal, so likely will this one. Good Schools in your area, are regarded as a Plus in the Home Value, not a minus. As a local SP High School Booster Club officer, local Business man, homeowner, I also welcome this additional High School to the community.

I regard it as a huge
POSITIVE step for education in San Pedro, and if it helps to boost the dismal 56% Graduation Rate of SPHS, then I am defintely ALL FOR IT.
Lets make sure it works for
our Kids and San Pedro/LA's Future!

Anonymous said...

Visionaries in this project may want to take a look at how CAMS and HTPA took off in the first place. If we will "build" it, we may well want to build it right as an authentic pride of San Pedro in the future, not just as a lackluster temporary venue of relief for overcrowding, which is absolutely needed.

CAMS = California Academy of Mathematics and Science (Long Beach USD high school on campus of CSUDH)

HTPA = Harbor Teacher Preparatory Academy (LAUSD high school on campus on LA Harbor College)

- Matthew Ting

Anonymous said...

We need this school. We want the best for our children. We want the graduation rate to go up and we want to get more children into college. Support This School At Angels Gate.

Anonymous said...

I live a couple of blocks down the hill past Angel's Gate and am absolutely in favor of the building of a new high school there. My daughter has been attending SPHS for the last 3 years, so I'm very familiar with the dreadful overcrowding there. It is definitely hard on the students and teachers, and worst of all, it impares the quality of education that can be provided. Having visited Angel's Gate facilities on numerous occasions, I have often thought it is a shame such a beautiful, prime location is so undeveloped and under-used. This week I went up to visit UC Santa Barbara with my daughter, who will be attending school there starting this fall. What a splendid, fantastic campus they have there! Wonderful buildings, lovely landscaping and vegetation all in a seaside venue. So now I'm thinking, why couldn't we create a beautiful, great little high school right here on the marvelous site that is Angle's Gate? Considering the site and the growing concern for environmental protection, renewable energy (wind, solar, wave and tide sources, etc.), why not have a high school with a 'green' emphasis and program. This is going to be a huge growth area in our economy in the future, so why not give students a jump start into it. Let's get an organized effort started to promote the new Angel's Gate High School!

Dr. Bill March

M Richards said...

The "Angel's Gate" area of the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur currently has a continuation high school operating.

As early as the Summer of 2009, the Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center will have finished its redevelopment and will be able to host approximately 14,000 more elementary school students, with its great programs in either a four night or three night experience.

We will continue to have exceptional educational experiences in San Pedro with the redevelopment of this Center which has been in operation for about 20 years now.

With the redevelopment of the Pointe Fermin Outdoor Education Center, it will add educational experiences that can't be found anywhere else in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Along with the Outdoor Education Center, Angel's Gate Continuation High School will continue to operate, as well as the parent-student speech therapy center, the early childhood education center, and the Mommy and Me classes.

The Upper Reservation is already hosting a wide range of educational facilities, not to mention the Marine Mammal Rescue Center and the waterfowl oil recovery Center.

There are alternatives to building a large new campus for high school students at "Angel's Gate".

I wish more open-minded folks will look at the alternatives coming from the community and elsewhere.

When the Notice of Preparation for South Region High School No.15 states that the new campus will have "45" classrooms for a total of "1,215" students, it is a flat out LIE!!!!!!!

To assume that simply moving classes from the main campus to any new campus will lead to fewer students per class, is another LIE!

NOWHERE at the Main Campus of San Pedro High School is ANY mention of an average class size of 27 students which would be the maximum class size for the proposed school!

Whether you take the State average of attendance at S.P.H.S. of 30.5 students, without adding in the number of students taught by department chairs, or the average believed to be between 37-38 students, including Phys. Ed. classes, there is no way on earth that a new campus could be built at "Angel's Gate" that could come close to the Notice of Preparation or Initial Study's count of number of seats.

Look folks, the folks demanding that no new campus be built at "Angel's Gate", including this Rancho Palos Verdes resident who pays into LAUSD, are NOT stating that a new campus is not necessarily needed.

We are simply saying for $88 Million of our Bond Dollars, which we will all have to pay back, we had better be darn sure we actually need a new campus, and if so, it should not be built at "Angel's Gate".

Let's see if the environmental studies really look at alternatives or just white-wash what the bureaucrats are using as an "easy mark" to place a large school where it simply does not belong!

Mark Wells
aka M Richards

Anonymous said...

Parents like sending their children to small schools because the schools are personalized places for learning. They are personal in number and curriculum. Class size reduction is important but building smaller schools into communities will increase college participation, reduce the drop out rate, reduce crime, raise student achievement, reduce the wear and tear on aging overpopulated buildings, etc. Let's have our kids in mind and put them first. Our kids cannot go multi-track.
An Angry Pedro Parent