Victory on the Road Less Traveled

Jack S. Moscowitz, a retired LAUSD school principal, is a consultant for the Assn. of California School Administrators

Every June we read about the many high school graduations. Yet, there is a group of young people for whom there is no publicity, even though their accomplishments make one want to stand in awe. These are the students in the Los Angeles Unified School District's City of Angels School independent study program, continuation high schools and the adult schools. And each of these students can say, as Robert Frost wrote, "I took the road less traveled."

Many of them are students who should be dropouts. Or perhaps they should be in jail or on welfare or just living on the street. But they aren't. Instead they walk in cap and gown across a stage, proud in the knowledge that they have each overcome a problem that would have labeled them as failures. They are handed a diploma as their parents, friends and in some cases their own children stand in the audience and cheer.

These are students who have had to work to support their families, or who have overcome a drug or alcohol problem, or who have had to care for a child as a single parent, or who just weren't ready to do that which was expected of them in the traditional school.

How is it that they are able to overcome difficult odds and succeed? I credit the dedication of the teaching staff. Let's begin with the City of Angels School where educators coordinate a home schooling program for elementary, middle and high school students. These teachers must be generalists, able to support a student in the broad curriculum and, at the same time, become a counselor who provides a pat on the back or, when necessary, a boot a little lower.

The continuation high school staff provides an environment in which each student is able to progress through the curriculum by completing contracts, again with the support and encouragement of skilled and caring teacher/counselors who demand effort, cooperation and attendance. They, like independent program teachers, take great pride in the successes that walk across the graduation stage.

This June, as has been the case in past years, more than 400 City of Angels students received their high school diplomas. The continuation program graduates more than 800, and the adult schools graduate hundreds more, including mature adults who are able to complete their studies after many years in the work force. These are all students who "took the road less traveled" and who deserve to hear our applause, cheers and praise.

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