Monticello High School

Monticello High School, built in 1998, is the second newest school in the county, and sits on a relatively new connector road between Avon St Extended and 20 South across from Tandem. When Monticello was built it was heralded for it’s environmentally friendly design, and use of skylights. Monticello looks large and sprawling on its hill with parking lots spilling down to the athletic fields.
Monticello, like Western and Albemarle, houses an academy within the school. In this case, the focus of the academy is on health and medical sciences.
The layout of the school is interesting, because the bulk of classrooms opened onto smaller interior courtyards. Classes are assigned rooms not based upon department or grade level. This encourages students of various grades and content areas to mingle, at least in the halls.
Principal Turner and I toured several of the “specials” classes and areas– shop, the TV station, the music studio, the computer lab where students work on repairs.
As I listen to high level discussions of students and schools– the level at which we discuss efficiencies and effectiveness– I am reminded of the realities of high school. As we traveled through the different areas of the school– and I saw various students I worked with in various capacities– it was obvious that students grouped themselves according to interests, appearance, and whatever semi-magical methodology that high school students use to divide themselves into cliques.
I fear sometimes that as bureaucracies, legislatures, and boards make decisions at a remove from the students and families that they serve, that they will over-generalize their own experiences, and forget that some young people just want to hide down in the computer repair shop and have their own dorkalicious conversations, while some youth want to plane boards and nail them up to create their own private b-ball court adjacent to their shop room, and other students want to work solo on their own musical masterpieces. On my brief perusal, all the students at Monticello seemed happy and able to find their own niches to explore their own personal nerd-dom. I think it’s the challenge of high schools to allow students a level of comfort and safety within their own defined zones, while also encouraging them to explore new, perhaps uncomfortable topics, as well as share their expertise with peers.
This is a hard balance to navigate, and I worry that when we start mandating one approach– whether it’s college track for every student, or online classes, or required dual enrollment– that we don’t appropriately take into account individual differences and approaches.

2 thoughts on “Monticello High School

  1. Dave R


    new to me. But I was in the Ham Radio club when I was in Norristown High.

    Good work. How do we make a political donation to your team. Paypal?


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