Local Middle and High Schools Define Their Shine

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chalkboardIt’s fall, almost, and for many parents with kids in transitional grades, like 5th and 8th grades, that means starting the search for middle and high schools.

To help with the process, West Angeles Educational Enrichment Center held a Back To School Night and invited 10 schools in the South LA community (and beyond) to highlight their unique attributes. I’d heard of a few (and trust me, I’ve done my research) but many were new to me. As so often, when you live in certain neighborhoods, you don’t bother to look in your own backyard and miss out on some gems.

Each of the schools had the opportunity to stand up and share a little information about what makes them unique. I’ll link to all the schools that attended below but here are four that stood out.

Libertas College Prep (grades 4-8) for Leimert and Exposition Park

New charter school, offers college prep academics, double periods of math and homework support. Students wear uniforms. Teachers are given cell phones and will communicate with students and parents up to 8 pm. They also provide TAP cards for families who qualify. Currently enrolling 4th & 5th grades.

Frederick K. Price III Christian School (K-12)

Located on the 32 acres of the Crenshaw Christian Center, all core classes are college prep even in elementary school. Boasting a 100% graduation rate, 100% of their students go to college. High school classes are on the quarter system (not semester). For motivated students, they can graduate with college credit and receive an associate degree along with their diploma. Classes are 90 minutes long in both middle and high school so students have the opportunity to delve into the material. They have an award-winning drum line and other extracurricular activities.

Verbum Dei High School (grades 9-12)

An all boys, Jesuit school, The Verb (as its called) offers a work study program. In addition taking college prep courses, students work 5 days a month in corporations such as Sony, Ernst & Young, KPMG, Loyola Law School and others for four years. This reduces tuition for the school to as low as $1,200/yr in some cases!

St. Bernard High School (grades 9-12)

Small school, only 265 students. Their Playa del Rey campus is open from 7:30 – 5. They encourage leadership and recently had $1.5 million in renovations completed. New library, science labs and classrooms. Although the school is co-ed, they offer single-sex STEM classes.

Choosing the right school at any level can be stressful and overwhelming, especially with all of the choices available, ie magnet, charter, SAS, private, religious, virtual and public. Start visiting the schools, speak to the reps, make sure your child comes with you on the tour. Don’t just depend on scores and reviews on websites.

Anna Carlstone-Hurst, the founder of Libertas, had a great quote in her presentation from an Executive Summary report prepared by ACT on College Readiness, The Forgotten Middle. Paraphrasing, it said, “a student’s performance in 8th grade, is one of the biggest predictors in how they will perform in college.”

Make sure whatever school you choose will help them lay the foundation to developing and mastering the study habits and work ethic they will need to succeed in college.

Here are links to the other schools in attendance.

Green Dot Charter Schools (has 20 locations in CA, serves grades 6 – 12)

K12 Online Education (virtual academy serving grades K – 12)

Junipero Serra High School (grades 9 – 12)

New Design Charter Schools (grades 6 – 12)

New West Charter School (grades 6 – 12)

Public Policy Charter School (new charter school, enrolling 5th & 6th graders)





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