Over 30 years ago, MacGregor High School began as a “necessary small high school” located on the original MacGregor primary school site. Necessary Small High Schools are small alternative educational programs who serve students who may not have been successful in a comprehensive high school setting.
Throughout the ensuing years, hundreds of students came to Mac High seeking an education which met their individual needs. They received so much more than an education – they found support and encouragement. They found adults who believed in them and wouldn’t let them fail. They found a community which valued them and their individual talents and yes, their quirkiness. They found a “home’
The small and separate campus plays an important role in the Mac High experience. Students cannot get lost in the crowd; they are seen as individuals, accountable for their actions. They have the opportunity to build trusting relationships with the staff. They have formed a community of support which cannot be duplicated on a large high school campus. They are in one location and cannot get “lost” going back and forth to AHS. They have separate classrooms for their various classes.
If these students were thriving at AHS they would be going there. For many it is because they are not successful in the larger school setting of AHS that they attend Mac High.
These are Albany students who are educationally fragile. The board of education has the responsibility not to fail these students – not to put them at risk of academic failure, not to increase their risk of dropping out but to provide them a safe and caring environment in which to flourish.
In the past the school board has shown concern with maintaining the engagement piece of the educational experience and wish to make it a priority should they chose to move Mac High to AHS. However, I fail to understand how the feeling of a special community will continue when Mac High is relegated to a single classroom in the larger AHS community. Rather than having the freedom and responsibility of their own space, I fear the students will feel isolated and neither part of AHS or a member of their own community.
I think the real purpose of Mac High is being missed. This necessary small high school (not a continuation school) was NOT created simply as a place for credit recovery, but rather a place for students to thrive in an environment which focuses on the individual educational, social, and emotional needs of each of them. It presents a unique opportunity for students who perform best in a small learning environment to receive instruction presented in a personalized style and under a structure that allows students to learn at their speed, meeting their individual needs. This learning environment encourages creativity and management of personal goals.
Once again I encourage the Board of Education to think very hard about what makes MacGregor High School special and successful and don’t destroy this school that has served so many of our kids so well for so long. Mac High has served as the only stable environment for many of these students. These are not “throw away” kids but simply young people whose lives are in chaos. When they have the individual attention and support to get their lives back on track then they can achieve academically and go on to lead successful and productive adult lives as the hundreds of previous students have done.
Just yesterday a former student posted on the Mac High face book page,”I'm a graduate from Mac High and it with the help of Marian Hoyle calling me on the mornings I was running late to make sure I got my a$$ out of bed and got to school saved my life!!”
Historically, AUSD has supported kids above all else. This is an opportunity to continue in that tradition. Current Mac High students and those in the future are owed nothing less.