The Home Of Scholars And Champions Education Essay

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For my fieldwork observation, I have chosen Long Beach Polytechnic High School. I am a first-time visitor to LBPHS, but I live three blocks from the school, so I see it every day on my way to school and work. I have been familiar with the school since my freshman year of high school, when my school competed against LBPHS for numerous athletic events.

Long Beach Polytechnic High School was established in 1895 as Long Beach High School. Currently, it is located at 1600 Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach, California. The school serves different neighborhoods of Long Beach, including Bixby Knolls, as well as sections of two neighboring cities, Lakewood and Signal Hill. Though the school serves multiple upscale neighborhoods in the Long Beach area, it is located in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles. Downtown Long Beach has a reputation for criminal activity, especially in the East Village, near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. The homes surrounding the school are old and run down, and shoddy cars line the street's edges as one passes by. The high fences, barbed wire, and penitentiary-type feeling that I got upon my initial visit were not reassuring, but the statistics surely were. Even though LBPH is located in such a bad part of the city of Long Beach, it is extremely safe. Police say that the school poses no bigger threats than that of any high school in an upscale neighborhood.

Long Beach Polytechnic High School belongs to Long Beach Unified School District. LBUSD currently includes over 81,000 students from 84 public schools in the cities of Long Beach, Lakewood, Signal Hill, and Avalon on Catalina Island. To better understand the way that the district functions logistically, the salary schedule has been included in the appendix. LBUSD has even been rated one of the top 20 school systems in the world and one of the top three in the United States. The school district has gained widespread recognition for establishing very high standards for its students, both academically and socially. LBUSD has even been featured in multiple media channels, such as Good Morning America and Sports Illustrated, for tremendous academic and athletic success. Schools in the district continuously exceed state standards, and demonstrate dramatic growth in sustained academic achievement. The district credits its successes to its partnerships with local businesses, Long Beach City College, and California State University Long Beach. The LBUSD, CSULB and LBCC have worked with local, regional and national partners to create a smooth path for students that helps them progress from preschool to post-graduate school. The partnership has been especially beneficial for students because it combines academic and social standards with a deeply-rooted support system to create critical, well-rounded individuals.

LBPHS currently enrolls 4,835 students. The student body is 50% male and 50% female, and the ethnicities are 31.1% Asian, 29.9% Latino, 26.5% Black, 11.4% White, and 1.2% Other. Long Beach Polytechnic High School has an Academic Performance Index (API) of 750, and it has increased for each of the last five years. In 2012, 28.5% of students scored proficient or above on the California Standards Test for math, falling quite short of the state average (51.4%); however, this shortcoming is countered in English: 52.1% of students scored proficient or above in English. According to an interview with the school principals, LBPHS has a graduation rate exceeding 90%! The free and reduced-price lunch program on campus serves 63.7% of the students. Staggeringly, the attendance rate at the school is over 95%; that means that, on any given day, 4593 students are on campus. With such diversity and capacity, it is surprising that the school can maintain such high rates. LBPHS offers many amazing academic opportunities for students, including eleven learning academies through which students learn. One of the highlighted academies of the school is called the Program of Additional Curricular Experiences, also known as PACE. Pace is a high-speed, aggressive approach to academics that only accepts the best work from the brightest of students; it pushes them to their fullest potential, and this has drawn attention from many students who desire such an experience. Some other academies at LBPHS include the Beach Academy of Math and Science, the Pacific Rim Magnet Academy, the Center for International Commerce, the Academy of Humanities, the Media, Entertainment, Technology and Sports Academy, and the Medical and Public Services Academy. This system of learning communities has been highly effective because each academy specializes in a certain type of student; the classes, teachers, and overall experience are shaped to the student's goals, rather than the student being limited by their environment. The staff play an absolutely crucial role in developing these spectacular learning communities.

Long Beach Polytechnic High School has highly-qualified and experienced faculty. LBPHS currently employs 179 teachers who, together, have a median experience of over 14 years. With 4835 students, the ratio of staff to students is 27:1, a fairly reasonable ratio considering the amount of budget cuts, layoffs, and dropped classes. Currently, over 98.6% of classes taught at LBPHS are No Child Left Behind compliant. The combined experience and student-teacher ratio help to make Long Beach Polytechnic High School one of the best schools in the nation.

The staff and administrators work together to organize the multiple academies on campus. Since there are academies dedicated to particular skill sets and class types, there is no traditional English department; however, there is are numerous academies where English has an emphasis. The academies are headed by a teacher, and the other members meet to organize and discuss a curriculum specific to each academy, rather than having each department meet to discuss their own curricula. The head of each academy, as well as the staff list, can be seen in the appendix.

Long Beach Unified School District has numerous reading lists recommended by the State of California. The district allows teachers, students, and parents to choose books that are relevant to the reading level and grade level of the students. There are a total of 13 lists, each with hundreds of books -far too many to list here, or in an appendix (The reading list is 99 pages!). The reading lists progress in difficulty, with List 1 having the easiest books and List 13 having the hardest books. These lists contain books with a corresponding grade range to help pick books that are interesting and relevant to students in any given grade. List 1 is included in the appendix.

Any educator could tell you that participation and extracurricular activities play a crucial role, whether it be from parents helping their students pick proper books from the district reading list or from students seeking an outlet from the curriculum, allowing them to enter a positive social environment that can help prepare them for a lifetime of critical thinking and public service. Long Beach Polytechnic High School is no exception to this notion. According to the school website, "[t]he full Poly experience includes participation in the school's diverse clubs and activities." The school has over 100 on-campus clubs, including service clubs and social groups. LBPHS hosts numerous formal and informal dances, lunchtime rallies, fairs, community clean-ups, community welfare and beautification projects, school beautification projects, and elementary school tutoring sessions. Students are able to participate in the Student Commission, a group, elected into office by their peers, that manages the ASB budget and makes financial decisions for the rest of the student body. The members of the Student Commission, as well as ASB, organize, manage, and participate in most of the events previously listed.

Along with these countless clubs so numerous that there is bound to be something for everyone, student and faculty alike, are some of the nation's best athletic programs. Long Beach Polytechnic High School has a star-studded athletic history and programs for both boys and girls. Recently, Poly received the Rotary Centennial Trophy for the 16th time consecutively for running the most successful athletic program in the city of Long Beach. The school has also been voted "Athletic School of the Century" by the California Coaches Association. In the last five years, Sports Illustrated Magazine has rated Long Beach Polytechnic High School as one of the top athletic schools in the entire nation. The sports currently available to students of LBPHS are badminton, basketball, cross country, football, soccer, golf, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo, wrestling, baseball, and softball. The school has sent more football players to the National Football League than any other school in the entire country. Poly is not home to any "dumb jocks"; the school has some of the most demanding academic expectations for their athletes; student-athletes from Long Beach Polytechnic High School are highly sought after. The school has much to offer students, from a wide array of clubs and activities to a distinguished athletics program that caters to some of the best athletes in the United States.

The wealth of information that I have acquired while conducting this survey of Long Beach Polytechnic High School has made me incredibly excited to begin working with them. I have not begun any observation, yet I am overwhelmed with the pride of becoming a part of such a wonderfully successful place of learning. I have always been a tough critic when it comes to academic institutions; I have struggled to find the good in schools when the bad shines through some vividly. Long Beach Poly has reignited my spark. After seeing the amazing work that the students and faculty are doing, I have faith that we can make future generations more critical, socially-aware, and brilliant. They may not have the best facilities (they're located in a poverty-stricken "hood"), but everyone makes do with what they have, and they keep their eyes set not on the environment, but on their wildest dreams. The incredible success of the athletics program was something that I was aware of beforehand, but I was unaware of its magnitude until I performed this study. I was truly blown away when I read that LBPHS has been ranked as one of the top athletic schools in the country. Also, when I read that, despite the large number of students on the free or reduced-price lunch program, the poverty rate of the surrounding neighborhood, and the diversity and size of the student body, the school is as safe as any other urban school of its variety. The rate of attendance also made my jaw drop. I went to high school in Temecula, California. My school was upper-middle class, predominately white, and we never got anywhere near 95% attendance. All of this research makes Long Beach Polytechnic High School shine even brighter in an already sparkling school district. The countless positive findings about LBPHS has dramatically shifted my perspective. Originally, I intended to conduct my fieldwork there only because of my proximity to the campus; however, now, I intend to observe there because I am filled with school spirit, and I am not even a Jackrabbit! The school looks absolutely wonderful, and I am no longer afraid of such a daunting institution.