What do you call a high school that graduates 100 percent of its students, almost every kid goes on to college, and they only go to school four days a week? We call it unique. They call it Pompano Beach High School.
“We are the number one high school in Broward County,” said assistant principal Lori Carlson, referring to a ranking derived by factors including test scores and graduation rates.
Every student at the school is part of its International Affairs with Information Technology magnet program. That means they have options among three business technology programs such as data modeling and scientific visualization. Walk into a science class and you might see students designing products to make on the 3D printer, or programming and controlling robots with their smart phones.
Pompano Beach High has the full range of AP classes, too, including Calculus BC and Music Theory. Students here can take art, orchestra, drama, band and they can play all the varsity sports other schools offer. One of the main differences is that students want to be here, they all applied for admission and were selected through a lottery.
“They understand the end game, that end game is getting accepted into the best college possible," said Carlson.
Founded in 1928, the school has rich tradition and history, which is now coupled with an international vision. Next week, students will travel to Costa Rica on spring break. Last year, they went to Sweden and Finland, priceless educational experiences.
“I'd never been so far away from home where I could compare different cultures," said senior Ashley Voet, explaining that being in Europe changed her view of American society.
“I definitely learned a lot about myself in the whole experience and learning about the other countries and the students there really opened up opportunities,” added Alexis Alonso, who says she keeps in touch with students she met in Sweden.
Pompano Beach High School, with a small student body of 1,200, is perennially an “A” school. The four-day week, in which each day is longer than those at regular schools to make up for the one-day deficit, may have something to do with the school’s success.
“It doesn't work for those students who are not motivated to do something with their Fridays, they don't just sleep in,” said assistant principal Jill Narus.
Students use their Fridays to catch up on work with tutoring and for community service, internships, research, things they can’t always do on weekends. It’s the only public high school in Florida using the four-day model, which makes you wonder why other schools haven’t tried it. Unique, indeed.