Programs increase engagement and achievement
The Aegis Staff
Beginning this August, every sophomore at Oakland High School is also enrolled in a focused learning community, called a pathway. According to school leadership, participation in pathways increases students’ academic achievement.
Several of the school’s pathways–the Visual Arts Academy Magnet Program (VAAMP), the Environmental Science Academy (ESA), and the Public Health Academy (PHA)–have been around for many years. Others, such as the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering pathway, the Social Justice and Reform (SJR) pathway, and the Khepera pathway for African-American male students, grew into pathways just this year. The school’s Newcomer program for students new to the United States functions much like a pathway as well.
Principal Matin Abdel-qawi said that the push for “wall-to-wall” pathways came from the Oakland Unified School District’s superintendent. Having students in pathways “increases scholars’ ability to graduate from high school and go to college,” said Abdel.
According to Abdel, about 80% of OUSD pathway students graduate from high school, while fewer than 60% of non-pathway OUSD students earn their diploma.
Abdel said that the pathway program benefits teachers as well as students.
“It creates teams of teachers to support each other professionally as well as to have conversations about how to support their shared scholars,” he said.
Pathway teachers meet to discuss how to support their students.
“ESA is really fun,” said junior Samariya Schaffer. “The teachers there want to get to know you on a deeper level.”
Overall, Abdel believes that the wall-to-wall pathway system and new bell schedule are setting Oakland High up for a great year. Saying that he is “super excited,” he added that the school community is showing a lot of enthusiasm for what this year will bring.
“You want everyone to be happy,” he said. “If staff are happy and students are happy, then everything else will take care of itself.”
Read on for thoughts from students in several of O-High’s pathways!
- Malakai Lowe, junior: “It’s a lot of fun and you learn a lot about the environment and what’s going on around you.”
- Kevin Luong, senior: “ESA is full of smart people and it helps you challenge yourself.”
- Riawna Pope, junior, said the teachers are really chill and cool and she’s really glad that seniors told her to join. “I would recommend ESA because teachers are great and even though there’s lots of homework, it’s worth the experience.” Pope said that ESA helps with college prep and also she’s more aware of pollution and started to pick up more trash that lays on the sidewalk.
- Elijah Hames, AVID senior: “I knew it was going to prepare me for the future. A lot of help is being given because the people in AVID want us young scholars succeed in life. I also joined because Coach Jayce [Goree] was pressuring me, saying I needed to be in something that’s going to keep me focused.”
- Taylor Chao, AVID senior: “I love my academy, they help keep me organized, on track in all classes, and get you ready for colleges, tests, and even the senior project. Plus finding a job.”
- Honesti Hayward, a sophomore and first-year transfer student at Oakland High School, said she chose VAAMP because she ¨wasn’t really interested in engineering.¨ Engineering was her only other option.
- Kyla Anderson, a junior, says being in VAAMP is easy for her. She also said she wanted to be in VAAMP because someone told her if you’re in VAAMP, you’re smart and have a bright future.
Aegis staff members Kyla Anderson, Janell Ebow, Honesti Hayward, Jason In, Noel Laulu, Julia Nkasa, Seydee Saechao, and Ryan Tran contributed to this story.