More High School Choices

With the many options to choose for high school, it can be hard to decide where to go.
Photo Credit: Althea Gevero

An 8th grader sits at the kitchen table with registration packets from different schools scattered on top. All of these thick, yet captivating packets, are all silently vying for his signature. One packet is for his zoned school, the other is his acceptance letter to a Career and Technical Academy. Or, he can forsake both options, and instead stay at home to be taught. Or, he could select one of these schools, then go to College of Southern Nevada (CSN) High School after his sophomore year. So many options, so many tantalizing decisions provided for this CCSD student. This student is one of the few who have the power to make this decision in the United States.

The old school
One of the many options when choosing a high school is to simply go to your zoned school. The Clark County School District (CCSD) has specific schools for certain residential areas. For example, individuals who live near or within Rhodes Ranch are zoned for Sierra Vista High School.

Although these zoned schools are usually within proximity of students, transportation can still be an issue. A student who lives relatively far from their zoned school may be required to ride the bus or arrange a ride to school.

Students may choose the option of attending their zone school simply because it is free. In addition, attending your zone school perpetuates the traditional school environment of sports, pep rallies and any cliché you can think of from a movie about high school.

Schools with majors
The next option high school students can choose are magnet schools and Career and Technical Academies (CTA). These institutions provide opportunities where a student can major in a specific program, which can range from the medical field to technology based career studies. This choice prepares students for the college admission process, as they must be admitted into the school and choose a program to study.

The first CTA in Las Vegas was Southeast Career and Technical Academy (SECTA). More and more CTAs were built through a bond the CCSD utilized in 1998. Five years later, the magnet program schools were built, due in most part to the success of SECTA.

Even with these two options, transportation is not guaranteed. As of Jan. 22, transportation for magnet schools and CTAs are determined by schools providing “similar programs of study, density of students applying to magnet program and density of students living within particular areas.” Basically, the more students in one area going to a certain school, the more likely they will receive transportation.

Deciding whether or not to attend a magnet school or CTA is intriguing; these types of schools provide a different experience than traditional high schools. For instance, in addition to core classes and electives, a student is able to major in a program that can help and propel them into the career field they wish to be in. There are also Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) that extend the curriculum of that major. A popular CTSO for medical program students is Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA), a club that focuses on promoting career opportunities in the healthcare field.

Students can experience school on a college campus as a junior or senior. CSN offers an option to enroll in high school on the CSN campuses of Henderson, Cheyenne, and Charleston. This program provides a combination of both high school and college courses, which aids in the transition between high school to college. Similar to a college experience, you are able to set up a school schedule that is flexible for you.

Students must provide their own transportation to the CSN campus of their choosing. Neither CSN nor CCSD provide transportation for students attending these schools.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors may choose to apply to CSN High School, as the program pays for two free years of college. Those students may also feel that the current high school experience is not what they thought it would be. However, unlike the normal high school experience, students who choose to go this route will have a taste of the college life.

Instead of leaving home to earn an education, there is the option of being homeschooled. Students can have relatives educate them, or hire a tutor. The Nevada Learning Academy at CCSD provides an online outlet for homeschooling. High school students can enroll full time in this online academy and fulfill their requirements for a diploma at anytime of the day. Transportation is not an issue, as the student studies from home or wherever is convenient for them.

Unlike the traditional high school experience, students who choose to be homeschooled are able to learn at their own pace and set a curriculum that is built around their capabilities. For the online options, homeschooled students need access to a computer and internet.

Homeschooling has a clear difference from a traditional school: there are no physical peers. The student is learning by himself, or with others virtually.

Staying Private

The alternative to public school is private or charter schools. In order to go to a private school or charter school, students must submit an application to the respective establishment. In Las Vegas there are a variety of options, such as Coral Academy and Bishop Gorman High School. Private or charter schools allow students to earn a different kind of education, as students are taught a curriculum based on the decisions of the school’s board and not the curriculum provided by CCSD. However, both types of schools still have to participate in standardized testing such as the Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA) Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) interim assessment. On the other hand, private schools, such as Bishop Gorman, administer the Nevada High School Proficiency Examinations, but students do not need it to graduate. Transportation can also be an issue as neither CCSD, or the school, provide buses for students who attend charter or private school.

If one goes to a private school, students must pay a tuition to help fund the school; however, a charter school is tuition-free and is government funded. Also, a private or charter school is run on its own and does not follow any guidelines from the CCSD. When the school year starts and when it ends, as well as when the school day starts and ends is dictated by that school. On the other hand, charter schools start/end the school year and the start/end of the school day are the same as public schools. The student-to-teacher ratio at private school compared to a public school is quite smaller, which means more teacher-to-student interaction.

Freedom of Choices

The various choices of what option to take when attending high school brings a newfound freedom to students. They are given the opportunity to decide the path they wish to take and what possible futures are in store for them. Instead of automatically attending a zoned high school, students have the ability to broaden their horizons and take their interests elsewhere. The power is now placed into the students’ hands, go out and select.