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Trepidations about high school swept aside

Aug. 09, 2013 @ 11:36 PM

Education is a personal journey for each family.

In 2006, I walked into Huntington High School as a new parent. It was an enormous building -- trepidation and worries set in. Was this the right decision to send our first-born son to this public school for the next four years? Will HHS prepare him well academically for college? Was he prepared to be in this environment with 1,500 students? Is it a safe place?

The answer is a resounding "YES!" Now that we have had two sons graduate from HHS (classes of 2010 and 2013), I am sharing our journey to allay the fears of the incoming freshmen and their parents. Getting involved with sports, band, debate, theater, clubs and other after-school activities is key to any student's success.

The best changes at HHS have been in academics. There were three Advanced Placement (AP) classes at HHS in 2006 compared with the 19 AP classes available today taught by AP-certified teachers. Kudos to the teachers for getting their certifications. HHS also offers dual credit and honors classes. The rigor in these classes prepare the students for their college curriculum. We are blessed to have the caliber and dedication of some of the teachers on the hill. Over 55 percent of the student body is on the honor roll. The school organizes incentive events to encourage students to make the honor roll, such as ice cream socials or attending fun events organized by parent volunteers on the Academic Boosters Club (ABC).

I would be remiss not to thank a group of parents, teachers and students who served on the Local School Improvement Council (LSIC). As a seven-year member, I can vouch that the voices of the members are heard at these meetings. Results of the WESTEST 2 (and its equivalent), AP, PSAT, SAT and ACT scores are reviewed annually. Principal Webb and his team of administrators addressed our concerns and found ways to enhance both teachers' and students' performances. At times, we agreed to disagree on certain issues, but the end results have always been made in the students' best interest. HHS is a school that honors both athletics and academics, albeit taking five years to get the first academic sign installed.

Yes, your student can receive college credits without leaving the hill! In 2013, HHS graduated five National Merit Finalists and had 29 AP Scholars compared with 16 AP Scholars in 2011. AP scores of 3, 4, or 5 and dual credit classes are accepted as college credits by some universities. Some students have had 14 to 38 credits accepted by their universities. That equates to tens of thousands of dollars of savings for families. Some National Merit Finalists received merit scholarships that provided full tuition, room and board and other extras!

Communications with parents is the biggest hurdle. Parents need to sign up and use Edline. The website provides a plethora of information and calendar of events.

One teacher aptly described HHS as a school "rich in its tapestry." I wholeheartedly agree with her. HHS can become an ever better institution with more parent volunteers and financial gifts to make the "extras" happen, like sending students to debate and other academic tournaments or on international home-stay exchange programs. Stay involved and volunteer at HHS, parents -- your assistance and donations are welcomed and needed!

Grant and I are beneficiaries of the stellar education that our sons received at HHS. We wish to take this opportunity to thank the caring adults from the secretaries, cooks, janitors, nurses, aides, counselors, teachers and administrators who work to make HHS a safe, caring and social educational environment that transform our daughters/sons into great Highlander men and women ready for their post-secondary endeavors! Go Highlanders!

Kheng Yap-McGuire served as president of the Huntington High School Local School Improvement Council from 2010 to 2013.

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