Seaside High School has earned the gold standard as a National School of Opportunity by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado.
The gold award, which is highest a school can receive, was given to eight schools for creating what is considered by the NEPC as a rich learning experience for all of its students.
The eight newly recognized schools joined 37 other public high schools, which are part of NEPC’s Schools of Opportunity network.
“It’s a real honor. The staff and students and teachers have worked so hard turning around Seaside High School, that it’s a real accomplishment to be recognized for closing the opportunity gap for students,” said Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh.
Diffenbaugh said the school opened access for students who historically didn’t have it. Seaside now offers 15 AP classes, including a mandatory integrated math and computer science course for all incoming freshmen.
All of the students are also given Google Chromebooks through a project-based learning initiative.
“That is all on top of a really strong culture that believes in kids, holds kids to high expectations and provides the level of support for them to be successful,” Diffenbaugh said.
Seaside High principal Carlos Moran credited each member of the teaching staff, along with the hard working students, for the honor.
“All students can be successful no matter what background students are coming from in terms of their demographics and socioeconomic status,” Moran said. “There’s this idea that one thing in order for us to authentically close that achievement gap is first we have to start with giving all students an opportunity.”
Seaside is a diverse community with 48.4 percent Caucasian and 43.4 percent Latino making up the population followed by Asian (9.7), African American (8.4), Pacific Islander (1.6) and Native American (1.1), according to the city website.
Moran said that in 2008, Seaside High was known as a school where kids would go just to fail. However, he said, a lot has changed in 10 years and one of the main reasons Seaside High got to this point was by jumping onboard the New Tech Network, which is a project based learning organization that also emphasizes one-to-one technology.
The new learning organization also recommends using a team-teaching, blended curriculum. Now, both Seaside Middle and High schools are using the dual-teacher system.
“I think the thing that I really want to stress that this is just the beginning of where we’re headed. This is definitely not the end,” Moran said.