As Seen in the La Mirada Lamplighter; Concerned Parents Battle Convoluted Reputation of School
La Mirada~Hoping to provide fresh new ideas, and keep La Mirada school kids in La Mirada, about 30 parents conducted a meeting at La Mirada High School this past Thursday night, attempting to form a new club, focusing on academics.
"We have a booster club for all the sports and other groups on campus, but none for academics," said Edward Eng, who along with teacher David Drago is spearheading an effort with other members of the school's Shared Decision Making Committee (SDMC) to form the Academic Booster Club-a group made up of parents, teachers, and students who hope to fill the perceived gap between the high school and the community.
The meeting was also attended by Principal Bill Seals and Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District (NLMUSD) School Board member Chris Pflanzer.
Hoping to place more emphasis and focus on academics and achievement, the group wants to propose new initiatives, and concentrate on four areas: have La Mirada High become a California Distinguished School (there are only two in the district); look for grant opportunities; implement an Annual Career Day; and create a broader outreach program to middle schools in La Mirada-to retain students.
According to the Department of Education website, in order for a school to be eligible to apply to be a California Distinguished School , "schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria including designated federal and state accountability measures based on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the Academic Performance Index (API) requirements."
The unit also wants to form a committee to plan and execute student activities, to raise funds, inquire about donations/grants, and sponsor future school and community events.
"When my child was attending Los Coyotes (Middle School)," said Eng, "It was amazing to hear all the constant announcements about the success of the soccer team, or the track and field team, but nothing ever about the success we had there in academic competition."
The issue is, according to many who attended the meeting, is that La Mirada High School lacks the incentives and not sufficient enough to retain academically aggressive students, currently attending middle schools in La Mirada.
After the meeting School Board Member Pflanzer spoke with the Lamplighter, "There are a lot of great, great things going on at La Mirada High, a lot more than people know about. I understand people's fears, but those are old fears. I am extremely proud of today's La Mirada High."
Principal Seals basically shares the same views, but during the meeting he conceded, "We have a full-time career counselor currently at the school, but it just doesn't meet the needs of the school."
Seals said La Mirada High currently has an extensive outreach program to Benton, Los Coyotes, and Hutchinson, the three middle schools in La Mirada. He also indicated that the school is currently working on a new four-year incoming freshman plan.
There is big competition among public schools who are trying to entice area children to enroll in their programs. And, there are also big bucks at stake- the main incentive some would say- as schools are funded by the state in a formula based on school enrollment. Simply put, the more kids enrolled in a school, the more money the school gets.
But gone are the days of community loyalty, as many parents now search for the best option-even if it's a bit of a drive.
West Covina resident Alma Ronquillo who home-schooled her children for most of their young age, currently has a daughter, Abby, at Benton Middle School in La Mirada, and a sophomore son , Bryce, at La Mirada High, who is currently in the basketball program.
She transports her children daily to La Mirada to attend school. The main reason, she explained, is so that Abby, whom she calls "an artist," can attend Benton, which is a Visual and Performing Arts Academy (VAPA)-a magnet school.
Magnet schools in the NLMUSD have special programs that offer theme-based curriculum for student with special interests.
Ronquillo indicated the experience at Benton has been wonderful but, but for high school she is concerned that La Mirada just doesn't offer enough for her child's aspirations in Performing Arts.
She said her family is currently envisioning a move to La Mirada eventually.
"I want Abby to go to La Mirada," she said, "but when I look around at what the other area high schools have to offer in Performing Arts, I don't know...."
However, Pfllanzer, who was contacted after the meeting, said there is a VAPA at La Mirada High that was created in 2009, to immerse with the VAPA students at Benton. He said the two groups regularly meet, and among other things, discuss student goals.
That same year, the VAPA at La Mirada opened a $10,000 dance studio, helped by a grant from the California Partnership Academy.
Pflazer named the Ace Business Academy, the Apple Teaching Academy, the Matadore Scholar Academy, and the award-winning Solar Energy Academy as the other career-oriented programs available at La Mirada.
The new group hopes to be organized with bylaws by the beginning of the new school year in September.
"I'm encouraged," said Eng, "there were a few other events going on at others schools in the community tonight, and we still had a good turnout."
The next meeting is scheduled for March 8, 2012 at the La Mirada High School Library. For more information on the Academic Booster Club and the committee, contact
or call (562) 868-0431-extension 3924.
Photo: Teacher at La Mirada High School, David Drago, addresses parents as Principal Bill Seals, NLMUSD Board Member Chris Pflanzer, and others look on.