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Almost four weeks before school begins on September 13, Hollywood High School Principal Jaime Morales prepares for the start of another academic year with ninth grade orientation on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Reflecting on what’s new for the year, Morales highlighted the growing performing arts program and the already full advanced studies program, but he’s especially proud of the school’s increased Academic Performance Index (API) score, up 89 points from last year — the second highest increase in the state. The success followed another substantial increase the year before. Morales is also quick to point out that the school with a higher API gain has a population of 100 students, thus for Hollywood High, which is roughly 30 times larger, the achievement is much greater.
“We do so many things,” Morales said of the school’s educational approach. “We have a comprehensive intervention program for students who are struggling. We try to make our instruction rigorous and based on California standards. And we also have an advisory program that makes the students feel at home and supported.”
Morales also discussed what he refers to as “shadow classes” that provide aid for incoming students based on 8th grade test scores.
“Let’s say a student took pre-algebra in eighth grade,” Morales said. “The student doesn’t really have any experience in algebra, so the student will go into an algebra class for first period and, instead of taking an elective for third period, the student will take a more targeted algebra class again that includes computer programs and alternative means to help the students. Means customized by teachers.”
Morales stressed the importance of helping students at the start of high school, citing it as the continuous key to the school’s success.
“Hollywood High for many years was a troubled school with gangs and none of that exists anymore,” Morales said. “It’s too bad that kids in the Hollywood Hills are going elsewhere when they could be receiving, I believe, a better education here.”
Formed in 1903, Hollywood High School has graduated more than 500 notable celebrities and politicians, including Cher, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brandy and Richard Norman Perle, former assistant Secretary of Defense the Reagan Administration and chairman of the board for the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee for the Bush Administration. The school consists of more than 150 faculty and approximately 3,000 students, 75 percent of Latino descent.
Class sizes range from 23 to 35 students, depending on subject. With an 81 percent graduation rate, three percent higher than the district average, Hollywood High allows various opportunities for parent involvement through the Advisory Council, Governance Council, PTA/PTO, classroom volunteering, office volunteering, fundraising and school beautification. For information, visit www.hollywoodhighschool.net.
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