By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
They would be missing one.
The south campus of alternative Middle College High School has long been headquartered in West Seattle, for more than a decade at South Seattle Community College (WSB sponsor). This year, it’s in a new location, after SSCC said it needed the space back.
Teacher Alonzo Ybarra invited WSB to drop by the new High Point home of MCHS.
MCHS is settling into two rooms awash in light from big windows, as well as support space including an office and storage, at Neighborhood House‘s High Point Center.
The road there was a little bumpy; the district originally suggested moving MCHS to portables at Boren, which was being set up as the home of the new K-5 STEM, and concerns were raised about whether co-housing a high school and elementary school would be appropriate for either school.
So the district got to work finding another location, announced the High Point site in August, and Ybarra – who was incorporating poetry and music into a history lesson when we stopped by – says it’s fantastic.
In addition to the interior facilities (which even include two restrooms that are on the corridor between the two classroom spaces), they are adjacent to the back patio at High Point Center, where volunteers have built picnic tables that students are enjoying at lunch/break time.
And he says it’s just the beginning – they’re also going to set up their computers to be networked for online learning, to supplement what’s happening in the classroom. MCHS students, Ybarra explains, often arrive with their status assessed via the credits they have, not what grade level they are at. From there, they work to get what they need to graduate; he stresses that MCHS is not a GED program, it’s a diploma program.
Classes are scheduled in two blocks, as the MCHS-High Point webpage explains. As of our visit on Thursday, enrollment was just below three dozen. They were expecting to be up to 50 students within the next few weeks, and likely to have room for more.
The High Point facility has unique features, Ybarra points out, that can factor into coursework for MCHS students – environmental science, for example, since the three-year-old center was built green (take a closer look in this 2009 WSB in-depth report), with a rooftop solar-panel array that made history. And right outside, the High Point redevelopment itself incorporates sustainability features such as bioswales and permeable pavement.
But for starters, the Middle College at High Point team wants to make sure you know West Seattle’s smallest public high school is up and running in its new home, with teaching and learning well under way for the new school year.
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