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Locke High in Watts is raising the bar

September 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
At Locke High School in Watts, they're raising the bar this school year. The school has changed its approach, and students have a new attitude.At Locke High School shirts are tucked in, and sloppy and skimpy clothes are out.

Students are starting the school year with a new look, new expectations, and a new direction.

Locke is now a Green Dot public school. The 2,600 student campus has been restructured into six small schools.

"It allows the counselors, teachers and assistant principals to truly focus on the students problems and what they need and make it better for them," said student Christopher Payez.

The students wear black, white or green shirts and khaki pants. But not everybody is adjusting to the new look.

"It is like jail basically. I am not suppose to have this on or these suspenders on, and I can't wear my shades," said student Breanna Wells.

The uniforms are just the beginning. Green Dot's focus is to provide small safe schools that prepare kids for college.

Steve Barr is the founder of Green Dot.

"They like to be treated with respect and you get to know each kid. There is something special about each one of them. That is how you turn around this achievement gap," said Barr.

More than half of Locke's tenured teachers signed a petition supporting the switch. In a 5-2 vote the LAUSD board gave Green Dot the green light.

Second year English teacher Beth Schmidt says that the expectations are high this year for students and teachers.

She says that Green Dots' approach should help ease the racial tension that has led to riots in the school in years past.

"It is not about race anymore, it is about knowing kids by their name and knowing your teachers and fellow classmates," said Schmidt.

Green Dot Public Schools hopes to improve test scores, hand out more diplomas, and send more students off to college.

"I think people around this city should look at this school and say, 'If it can happen in Watts, it can happen anywhere.' And it is going to happen here," said Barr.

 

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