By Crystal Earl
On September 25, Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) successfully petitioned the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education to accept its revised charter, including an expansion to serve grades transitional kindergarten (TK) through eight as well as grades nine through twelve.
Students and staff members took a field trip to downtown Los Angeles to participate in the LAUSD Board of Education’s vote where they had the opportunity to voice their opinions and personal experiences in relation to GHC. LAUSD voted unanimously to approve the high school petition, though LAUSD board member Scott Schmerelson was the only “No” vote for the TK-8 appeal. However, it still passed with support from other board members.
GHC staff, students, parents, and community members have been working on the charter petition for months to not only renew the current charter for the Zelzah campus, but also to expand GHC to include the TK-8 program on the Devonshire campus. The approved charter petition will allow GHC to serve approximately 5,500 high school students and 1,425 grades TK-8 students.
One way the school community advocated for GHC and the expansion was by giving students the chance to personally email the LAUSD Board of Education.
“Our emails will hopefully show the School Board that Granada is more than just a school; it is a community,” senior Constance Chiang said.
The TK-8 program is an expansion to the high school program, and will allow elementary and up to not only learn but also to prepare for the four years they will eventually spend on the high school campus.
The new grades TK-8 program, opening in August of 2019, will begin with transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 6. It will operate under a similarly rigorous curriculum as the high school campus, and will allow students to complete up to 14 years of education at GHC.
“We know that the middle school grades are really important for high school success, and the benefits of a TK-8 make a lot of sense. Students will be able to seamlessly move through the grades without the interruption of moving from one school with the culture, norms, expectations, teachers, and curriculum to another school where it’s new,” Executive Director Brian Bauer said.
According to Bauer, the idea to expand into a TK-8 program came about after LAUSD opened up the Porter Ranch Community School six years ago. For some time, GHC had been considering an expansion to include just middle school grades.
“That Porter Ranch Community School really caught our attention, not because it impacted us directly, but because we heard from families that TK-8 was a program they really liked, and so it prompted us to look more closely at that model,” Bauer said.
After reviewing research that supported the learning and personal development benefits for students in a TK-8 model as well as visiting and speaking to other schools with a similar program, Bauer said the decision was clear.
Jana Davenport, the former principal of Balboa Magnet Elementary School, will be the school’s director. GHC administration and staff believe that with her and her team’s assistance, the institute will be a success. She began this week with GHC.
The expansion into TK-8 is a new chapter for GHC. The school has provided high school students with a wonderful education since 1960 and almost sixty years later it will be able to serve students of almost all ages. GHC’s ambition and push for a better academic institution is what separates it from other schools in the Los Angeles area. GHC is excited to serve the future generations to come and the community is looking forward to the 2019-2020 school year.