As a veteran teacher at Boulder City High School, I wish to acquaint our community with an issue of some concern. Our projected enrollment for next year is 587 students, and at that number we will be forced to lose three staff positions — after losing two last year.
The sustainability of our school is based on population, and our budget correlates to the number of students registered. Each year about 70 students opt for magnet schools, to which, understandably, they may be drawn by specialized curriculum.
But now, with schools in town offering dual-credit classes for high school students, we could be losing an additional 30 students in enrollment. Even more drastic staffing cuts would ensue, and the fiscal and educational impacts of such a migration would be significant.
The good news is that beginning next year, students can start earning up to 24 college credits in dual-credit courses offered right here at BCHS. Credits can be earned concurrently toward high school and college degrees. Our administration is aggressively implementing these classes so that students can save on college costs while remaining here in the most remarkable high school in Southern Nevada.
Our beautiful new building boasts the latest technologies, fits the historic character of our town, and is an attractive addition to our city. More important than this, of course, is what’s inside our classrooms, which brings me to my point.
Against the notion that an optimal education includes pushing children as quickly as possible into adulthood, stands the fact that the human brain does not finish developing until the early to mid-20s. Then, like a camera zooming into focus, cells in the neocortex, which governs impulsivity, finish myelination; the hemispheres of the brain complete interfacing; perspectives clarify. But teenagers, who only appear adultlike, are still physiologically, cognitively immature — and in crucial ways, they actually need their parents and community more than ever.
From family and environment, children are still conceptualizing personal ethics, community interaction, civic responsibility, problem solving, decision making and effective communication. Other schools only provide one of the many components needed in a global education (academic), and parents may curtail too soon the extent of their own influence upon these teens, who probably still need those enriching influences found close to home.
Daily hours to commute, expense and risks of transportation, less family time and “downtime,” and loss of quality interaction with lifelong friends must be balanced against perceived advantages. With dual-credit classes now offered here, there is no need to sever students from their community in order to defray future college costs.
Boulder City High School provides, hands down, the finest education your son or daughter can experience. Here’s how the BCHS class of 2016 stacked up against other schools in the district:
■ US News and World Report ranked BCHS as top comprehensive high school in Clark County.
■ Eighty-three percent of BCHS grads went to college, self-reporting to be better prepared than peers.
■ They earned over $6 million in scholarships.
■ Their average ACT was 20, second-highest for a comprehensive high school.
■ Six percent more AP students earned college credit.
■ BCHS students are represented at every military academy in the past three years.
■ We boast at least one National Merit Scholar yearly.
■ Student-athletes outscore in academic performance.
And the list goes on. Here, student learning is layered within a network of community influences, and kids can be kids — known, valued and celebrated. Nowhere in the valley can this be duplicated; nowhere else can our students find the kind of preparation they receive here.
Backed by our supportive community, Boulder City High School is the Eagle’s nest that nurtures and strengthens its young so that they can soar to their highest dreams. The time does come for them to fly; but they can be nudged into flight too soon, especially since we know that cognitive powers are still emerging. We cannot accelerate that physiological timetable in any way, much less by sending them out where parental influence is minimized. Soon enough they are gone.
I respect how earnestly parents strive to make wise decisions for their children. Not every case is the same; there are always exceptions. But education is not just about books, computer screens or printed transcripts. And since this choice so impacts them, perhaps we need to think carefully — even prayerfully — about what the best placement for our children may be.
By synthesizing superlative academic preparation with the powerful influences of family, friendships, tradition, community and belonging, BCHS creates strong and confident young adults who take on the world.
It is a joy to teach your students, and I am blessed to be here. If the integrity of a community is reflected in the ways it empowers the coming generations, let us choose wisely.
Molly Spurlock is an English teacher at Boulder City High School.