by George J Elbaum
Thornton High School is a public, alternative school with current attendance of 104 students, primarily in grades 11-12, of which 91% are minority and 45% are economically disadvantaged. The school’s program is designed to provide the opportunity for its students to earn academic credits and meet the requirements for a high school diploma. In a broader sense, Thornton’s mission is to build an educational community which would reintegrate at-promise students into educational, social and community activities and to develop feelings of self-worth, tolerance and community awareness, thus becoming productive and responsible citizens. To foster community involvement, for example, students must complete at least 75 hours of community service and earn elective credits. Students are referred to Thornton for a variety of reasons; each has his or her own story on what obstacle(s) got in the way of staying on credit track to graduate on time. With collaboration between the students themselves, families, staff, and community, the majority thrive at Thornton and earn enough credits to graduate on time. Several even end up graduating early, helped by smaller class sizes, increased teacher-student-family contact, individualized instruction, and the ability to earn credit in a variety of ways.
This was my fourth talk at Thornton and the second since Covid-19 constrained personal interaction, so regretfully it was once again via video. As before, the talk was arranged and organized by English teacher Fernanda Morales for 11th and 12th grade students. I very much hope that, despite my immuno-compromised condition, I will be able to return to Thornton next year in person rather than via video, and thus be able to interact directly with Fernanda and her students.