'Loser No. 1' actually a winning alternative

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2007

With construction of a second high school in the Mendenhall Valley under way, parents are carefully considering the five possible configurations the school district has proposed for Juneau's secondary education curricula.

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For that reason, I was angered when the Juneau Empire's April 1 editorial capriciously slammed my personal preference: housing the ninth and 10th grades at one campus and the 11th and 12th grades in the other ("one school, two campuses").

The editorial writer contemptuously refers to this option as "Loser No. 1," yet the only reason given is that younger students will not be able to look up to and learn from older students. Disregarding for a moment the reality that high school upperclassmen offer both good and bad examples to emulate, one wonders how large an age spread a student needs to look up to. Couldn't freshmen look up to sophomores, and juniors look up to seniors?

I attended a high school with this configuration in Minot, N.D., a city of 30,000 people just like Juneau. I remember being excited at reaching 10th grade and becoming the head of the school. I also remember that the split did not hamper the "gifted" children from taking advanced classes. To this day, 25 years later, it is still a very successful setup. It did not split the community, resources and funds, something I'm afraid will happen with two high schools.

There are many parents who favor this split, and data supports the success of this configuration. It was foolish for the editorial writer to dismiss this option in such a cavalier way. I hope that the committee and Juneau's parents will continue to consider this very positive idea.

Anne Kincheloe


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