Opportunities Unlimited Charter High School was developed by Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc. (YOU), a non-profit 501(c)(3) community based organization developed as part of a challenge grant awarded to the City of Los Angeles by the U.S. Department of Labor in 1990. YOU Clubhouse was located in the heart of South Central Los Angeles. According to the Zip Code Data Book for Service Planning Area (SPA) 6, (Zip-Code-Data-Book, 2003) the target area for YOU and Opportunities Unlimited has the highest levels of single moms, homicides, juvenile arrests and persons living below the poverty level in all of L.A. County.
Who is Opportunities Unlimited?
We are fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Our charter educates historically disadvantaged youths. These youths’ residence feeder high schools are largely Washington, Locke, and Fremont. Our charter specific goals are to produce graduates who are college-ready and prepared for the global economy. We accomplish these outcomes by achieving the following learning goals: (1) social change agency/social justice, (2) life-long learning, and (3) critical thinking with an emphasis in the analysis of historically disenfranchised populations.
We know of charter schools that apply stringent academic standards in considering children for admission. At Opportunities Unlimited, we believe that ALL children should receive a fair opportunity to obtain an education that will allow them to realize their God-given potentials. We therefore extend an unlimited opportunity to students that are challenged, as well as those that are gifted; to those that have been troubled, as well as those needing more individualized support. Many of our students are experiencing the sweet taste of success and are craving more!
Opportunities opening year was 2005-06. Our lease commenced in August 2005, at 88th Street Church of God and Christ located at Los Angeles, CA 90044 . The school remained at this location for the first year of our charter, 2005-06. Opportunities quickly outgrew this location. In August 2006, our school leased Opportunities Baptist Church, located at 10513 S. Vermont, Los Angeles, CA 90044. As our school continued to grow we began seeking other options in order to accommodate our increasing growth and we were fortunate enough to find Paradise Baptist Church located at 5100 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, Ca 90037. This new facility can house all of our students and staff and it allows opportunities for future growth.
Within this SPA of more than one million people, 14% are children age 10-17, and the median age of persons in the community is 26 years old. Forty percent (40%) of children live with a single mother, and 10% with a grandparent. There were 308 homicides in the area in 2001, and 3,600 juvenile arrests. Thirty-three percent (33%) of all persons living in the SPA live below the poverty level. As proven by the successes of YOU, Opportunities Unlimited is strategically positioned to improve the community through education.
Our student population has a large number of students who qualify for the free lunch program due to low family income. The community also reflects a large population of recent immigrants to the United States, especially from Mexico. Because of this, many students have Spanish as their first language, and are classified as English language learners. Through its curricular programming and Expected Schoolwide Learning Results (ESLRs), Opportunities Unlimited students will have exposure to an ethnically diverse network of high school students which will allow students to have conversations/ awareness of students from other districts and other countries around the world, so that ethnicity becomes an asset, not a barrier, in their learning community.
Opportunities Unlimited Charter High School, in partnership with the Los Angeles Community, local colleges, universities, and corporate partners create an environment where students, grades 9-12, excel in academics with technical integration, and then utilize their abilities and expertise to propel themselves to a college education and expanded employment opportunities. This collaborative relationship created from the shared philosophy of our urban community, which is to educate the whole child, acknowledging the socio-welfare needs of students and their families by recognizing and addressing the individual needs of the child within a multicultural environment and in the belief that each child will become a competent, self-motivated, life-long learner who is prepared to compete in a global society.
Expected School-wide Learning Results (ESLRS)
Expected School-wide Learning Results are the outcomes we expect our students to learn during their matriculation with us. Opportunities’ multi-talented teachers work in interdisciplinary teams. Their skills and efforts developed the following ESLRS :
● Active Learners - A person who is interested in positively impacting social change, participating in intellectual debate, listening respectfully, asking questions, and maintaining the highest respect for the learning environment.
● Take a futuristic approach to creating a goal-oriented road map to success
● Critical Readers actively seek to advance their thinking along the higher levels of Bloom’s continuum
● Critical Thinkers consistently challenge the status quo and are mindful of various perspectives, and abstractly process information in order to compete in the global economy.
● Learn to use their intuitive skills to anticipate/promote future change
Life Long Learners:
● Reciprocal Motivation- acknowledges the power of words; stay motivated, and motivate others to learn.
● Commitment to cultural sensitivity, cultural awareness, and an eagerness to learn from diverse populations.
● Acknowledge that dialogue is essential for effective communication and maintain an environment where diverse ideas are promoted.
Social Change Agency/Social Justice:
● Empower self and community so that there is no partaking in self-defeating behaviors/practices/mindsets.
● Understand that “School [is] the agency for helping young people to deal effectively with the critical problems of contemporary life"
● Promote Positive Citizenry-Develop social climate in which drug use, gang related activities/affiliation, violence, stealing, vandalizing are eradicated.
● Serve as mentor/role models for community advancement.
● Participate in community organizations/events to create positive change in community
● Understand that the best defense of democracy is the protection and promotion of all viewpoints.
We appreciate your interest in our organization and look forward to entertaining any questions you may have. As you peruse our website please read about our educational philosophies by selecting “Staff Directory”.
Opportunities Unlimited Charter High School was developed by Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Inc. (YOU), a non-profit 501(c)(3) community based organization developed as part of a challenge grant awarded to the City of Los Angeles by the U.S. Department of Labor in 1990. YOU Clubhouse was located in the heart of South Central Los Angeles. According to the Zip Code Data Book for Service Planning Area (SPA) 6, (Zip-Code-Data-Book, 2003) the target area for YOU and Opportunities Unlimited has the highest levels of single moms, homicides, juvenile arrests and persons living below the poverty level in
I have met so many more people as a direct result of my drinking
And I would guess that many of you can say the same.
It is a scientific fact that alcohol allows you to release your inhibitions and strike up a conversation with just about anyone.
Some people choose to drink and party simply because it's the only time they are able to be as social as they often wish they could be.
Alcohol gets people talking and laughing. It enhances the mood in every way. It creates friendships that otherwise could not have existed. It allows old friends to re-live the good ol days. But it certainly doesn’t mean that you should get super drunk, know your measure!
This improvement to your social life and relationships is too great to miss out on.
Break the Rules
Our society is governed by rules. And lots of them.
I decided a long time ago that many of these rules were way too silly.
Mohandas Gandhi said, Be the change you want to see in the world.
I think that life is a party, so I try to live the celebration. I refuse to allow laws beyond my control to prevent me from living my life to the fullest.
When you realize that you have the power to ignore rules and act according to your own beliefs, it is such a great feeling.
Give it a try. I bet you’ll feel empowered.
Remember that stereotype about college kids partying?
That stereotype is prevalent for a reason. College kids have been partying since day one. It is simply considered part of the college experience.
Having been through two years of college, I have seen countless parties. I can honestly say that my college experience would not have been a fraction as amazing and unpredictable had I chosen to live on the straight and narrow.
It has been one hell of a ride, and I don't regret one second of it.
To everyone who's with me, rock on. Party because you know you're having a better time than everyone else.
To all the prudes out there, my advice is to live a little. Just try to go once and see for yourself. I think you'll be glad you did.
What about using this ghost as a teaching tool? Does talking about the apparition of the murdered King draw this public alternative high school into the occult,
Into religion, talk of death?
Yes. However, within the realm of this classic text lies educational freedom. I advocate using the ghost as a teaching tool, as a way into the text and as a stimulus for writing and conversation. I believe all of us have been frightened by what may be under the bed, in the closet, the basement, the attic.
In what setting may an encounter with a ghost occur?
"…in an island that has never been see before on a map and the island is made up of rocks around dirt…"(Reinaldo B.)
"The room was dark, chilly, and quiet So whatever noise was to , happen she would hear it." (Kenia H.)
"It was a nice and calm night, the time was around 2 a.m. there wasn't hardly no one up it's a work day." (Camilo T.)
"It takes place hours after the funeral, during the middle of the night in the dark bedroom." (Timothy H.)
The ghost, former King and father of Prince Hamlet, makes demands of his son: "Mark me", "revenge my most foul and unnatural murder"; leave your mother alone, but do not let the royal bed of Denmark be a nest for incest.
Many of my students have ambivalent or negative feelings about their fathers, but also maintain a romantic attachment to the idea of Father. As a drama therapist and former SPARK (substance abuse prevention) counselor, I am aware of the concept of teacher as therapist in the classroom. My training informs my work and grants me insight into the writings and comments of my students. The student who wrote about meeting a ghost after the funeral lost his mother to death, and his father has always been lost to him. Teachers, especially but not exclusively, in alternative settings need to make an extra effort to know the stories of their students. What better place to do this than in English class? I overheard one staff member question a student, "What about your mother?" She did not know that student's mother had died a year before. These mistakes are inevitable, but careful communication between student and teacher delicately paves the way for authentic writing. What are we asking the students to do in response writing? Respond in their own voice and experience to what they read, to try to identify with what they read, to find a way into the text, and in their writing to carry on a conversation with the narrator of the text they are studying. In this dialogue their realities are both clearly and obliquely stated and the teacher needs to be alert to signs of profound loss, sadness, or distress. Sometimes the students have no other person watching out for their well-being.
Using a ghost as a writing trigger frees the students to imagine,
To enter a world that is real on a level beyond their ordinary experience:
"Oh ghost, you make me wanna wonder why are you here. Are you warning me of something that's on the way." (Kenia H.)
"Oh snap, a real ghost. How's the afterlife, did you use to live in this house? Did you die in this house? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to do in life? Did you have a family? Am, I seeing you for a purpose? Is this some kind of message. Do you have something to tell me. Is it my time now." (Camilo T.)
"what kind of joke is this so, to stand here before me and act as if you're my dead husband, have you no shame…" (Kenia H.)
"My love for you would never change, it never did since the first time I'll eyes meet. Never did I leave you alone regardless of how deep my body was. My spirit stayed within you. No matter how hard you chose to block. My darlin sweet darlin please go on with your life but please do not forget me my sweet Anabell. (Kenia H.)
"What's good, why you looking at me like you never seen a ghost?"
"Yo, I gotta stop smoking this shit, I be wilding out" (Camilo T.)
Once I stayed on the short story "Rashomon" for six weeks. Students were complaining to other teachers. Rondi wouldn't budge. I was waiting for them to complete the assignment. I was waiting. I feel that students crave entertainment from the teacher. Their own success or failure is irrelevant compared to the feeling of moving on, keeping the pace, missing an assignment but thinking the next one will be sufficient. We probably all to some degree pick and choose how we spend our time and as we work our way up the academic ladder we are often afforded more not less choice. In this class, I have ignored some assignments, perhaps doing only those I thought the professors thought were truly essential. But I am not taking the class for credit, so I feel as though I may have some choices, and truly, when I took the class, I knew that I would be pushing it in terms of demands on my time, but I felt that I would do my best to show up and learn, and that would have to be enough.
Why do I think the students feel any differently? They are not leaning forward with anticipation to my next assignment. They frequently forget the assignments I give, remind them off, print up, and consistently write on the board. "You didn't tell us."
Well, "Rashomon" , to me, is an important story. The skills I was teaching were also essential to doing college work. Moving onto another story would not have changed the assignment. So I did not move on. I am not sure if the result of this was just the students thinking I am stubborn or some realizing that I was not going to forget so they may as well do the assigned work.
This semester I assigned a required project for the first marking period. The majority of the students did not do it. Rather than giving up on the assignment, I altered it to be a requirement for the semester. I let the students know I still expected them to do the research and present their work to the class.
Working in the New York City public school system,
I have consistently had to advocate for the rights of no-shows, latecomers, and homework abstainers to an education. When I was a counselor and called a developmental group around a particular topic, I was reminded of the poster of the Vietnam era, "What if they give a war and nobody comes?" I translated it to "What if I give a group and no one comes?" or later as a teacher, "What if I give an assignment and no one does it?"
If one person showed up for the group it became an individual session, and in that strange wisdom of what we cannot plan for that privacy seemed to be what that student needed. To be an effective educator, I consistently need to let go of the needs of others to show and produce numbers and results. So much of what we do cannot be measured. One poet at the Geraldine Dodge festival asked how we can determine the value of a new poem in a student's mind. I need to accept and assess each situation, each student, each class, and do my best to educate who is there, not lament for those who stayed home. I also need to provide work for the students based on what they have been able to accomplish. I do not advocate behavior modification. There is a sufficient amount of reward and punishment in the grading system, the report card. Throughout the semester my job is to instill a love of learning, to teach that education has inherent value. It is neither about the credit nor the grade. Can we find together the timeless beauty of the poetry of Hamlet?
"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals; and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" (II:ii)
The how and why of teaching is as important as the how and why of writing and thinking. I need to see what has been accomplished by the student and move to perfect that work. Last week the students were not ready for their performance exam. I could have ranted and raved and thrown zeros at all. I instead let them rehearse and saw pairs of students concentrating, rehearsing, thinking. The grades were due the next day; I gave them the opportunity to present that next day. The grade deadline was not decided by me.
But I did determine the bottom line for passing, which was a notebook and a performance.
My first experience teaching Hamlet took the whole semester instead of the first marking period. It went on and on and on. My beloved chairperson Robert Johnson assented when I confessed it was taking me and the class time to get through Hamlet. (But I do remember an entire semester of college work on James Joyce's Ulysses) The class culminated in a performance of selected scenes. Some costumes were created. We left the high school building and had use of a small theatre space at the nearby community college. Parents came and cheered.
How to teach Hamlet is a challenge. The language is difficult, yet within the text are passages of profound and poetic significance. The landmark plot points easily stimulate discussion and empathy: Is it acceptable to marry a former spouse's sibling? How does one make sense of an encounter with a ghost? What type of grief is acceptable? Can mourning go on too long? Is revenge on a time-table? What advice can a parent give an adult child? What is the potential damage of rage? What is insanity? What is tragedy? What is Hamlet's quandary? Hamlet is an essential text; it is worth my time as a teacher to attempt to teach this magnificent work. The ghost has made us all swear: "Adieu, adieu, remember me." (I:v) Would you remember an encounter with a ghost, your murdered father?
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