There's a little hidden gem of a charter school in West Valley, Utah, with a student body of about 300 students. I think there's also something in the drinking water because of those 300, they all act like they want to be there. The faculty too!
"It's a student body of varying academic ability," the language arts instructor explains in the teacher's lounge, during my initiation into his lesson plan about pre-Socratic philosophy.
Math, language arts and a required core provides a challenging curriculum for top students and for otherwise flunking-out adolescents, a second chance opportunity to recover and graduate. And surprise: the electives center entirely around the film industry.
I subbed in the animation lab where students quietly entered, picked up their tablets and got to work pronto on their storyboard projects as I played an instructional DVD on the projector. I got to sit back and watch a visual artist manipulate a frog jumping repeatedly for 30 minutes. (Don't knock it 'til you watch it. Believe me, it was cool) Plus I didn't once have to shush anyone.
I stayed behind after the dismissal bell and asked a few seniors about their experience.
One student told me that she had been bullied at her former school and was much happier at EHH. She found that people here are much more accepting and open to ideas. Another said that the teachers are so personable; she can approach any of them and that's unusual for her. A senior on the verge of graduation who completed his four years of high school at the charter said he gets weekend gigs as a DJ and makes great money. I asked about his future plans. College?
He shrugged. "Maybe."
Maybe. Maybe not. Like other EHH seniors, he's graduating this spring with marketable skills. He's only 18 and plans to go land audio gigs on commercial sets. He knows what he's doing.