Academic paths through high school often lead students toward college, with career technical education as an option. What if the paths were mixed up a bit?
The governing board of the Sequoia Union High School District discussed curriculum ideas for a new high school in Menlo Park at its April 1 meeting. David Reilly, Woodside High's former principal and now a district assistant superintendent, proposed some guiding principles.
The board has committed to building two magnet schools, each for 300 to 400 students. One will be built in San Carlos and the other in Menlo Park's M2 industrial area.
The schools are intended to relieve population pressure at the comprehensive high schools, such as Menlo-Atherton, where enrollment is expected to grow at least 25 percent by 2020-21.
At the new school in Menlo Park, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes would be a preference, Mr. Reilly said, citing a recent survey of parents, staff and students. But the same survey showed strong interest in health science, medical technology, computer science and digital and media arts, he said.
Partnerships could be the answer, he said.
The school site is at 150 Jefferson Ave., a neighborhood of high-tech enterprises such as Facebook, Intuit and Oracle. The area represents one of "three rapidly growing high-tech sectors" in the industrial district, the others being life sciences and medical devices, according to a recent report from the city of Menlo Park.
The companies present an opportunity for linked learning, Mr. Reilly said. Linked learning is a four-year program that blends academics with business in the form of internships, mentoring, workplace simulations and apprenticeships, according to a report from Stanford University's School of Education.
If linked learning represents an opportunity, not taking advantage of it would be like an island economy not tapping its fishing industry, Mr. Reilly said, adding that the area is "insanely rich."
Another partnership, with Canada College, could offer courses at the school in kinesiology, radiologic technology, nursing, engineering, and environmental technology, he said.