Olympic Heights may soon experience numerous changes, both externally and in the classroom, that will help pave the way to an improved academic experience for its growing population of students.
Recently, staff, students, and teachers have been buzzing about the extraordinary opportunity with which our school has been presented: the chance to qualify for an astounding ten million dollar grant. Awarded as part of the XQ Super School Project, OH is hoping to be one of the five schools chosen out of the thousands vying for the grant, which has the potential to change the lives of thousands of students for years to come.
The grant contest, held by a California nonprofit organization known as the XQ Institute, aims to “rethink” the American school system. Founded on imagination, innovation, and opportunity, the program provides participating schools with the means to envision, and ultimately bring to life, these ideals in their own creative ways.
Competing schools must submit a plan for their own XQ Super School, and the creativity, thoroughness, and consistency of their ideas with the project’s main goals are all factored together in a comprehensive judgement that narrows down the applicants until it finds the five schools that will best aid in the transformation of American academics.
The first step in the long process consists of an Initial Entry, which OH has already successfully passed. A final application was sent out by the OH administration on Feb. 10 that will determine whether the school continues on to become one of the 200 semi-finalists. The announcement of those 200 semi-finalists will come on April 1, and the remaining schools will be required to further develop the plans detailed in their Initial Entries. Narrowed down even further by June 17, 50 remaining finalists have one last chance to prove that they deserve to be one of five inheritors of the transformative prize.
Evidently, ten million dollars has the capacity to revolutionize a school in more ways than one. According to Olympians Advanced Placement Academy (OAPA) coordinator Ms. Kelly Lawrence, a member of the OH team developing the grant contest entry, the XQ grant has the power to modernize almost every aspect of schooling, from technology and classroom environment to the classes offered and the physical layout of the school itself.
These advanced resources and opportunities also have the potential to assist struggling students by helping them find a course of learning that is better suited for them. In the case of prevalent technology, teachers will have greater access to interactive learning that may be more successful than the traditional method of instruction.
Likewise, students, with the help of teachers and faculty, will have more access to the information they require, as well as an avenue that can lead to increased classroom discussion and situations of high-level, critical thinking. Access to improved college preparation material also serves to equalize the playing field, providing lower-class and struggling students with opportunities that can propel them further in life.
As of now, the most OH can do is wait and see how events play out when the semi-finalists are chosen. Students, teachers, and parents alike can continue to dream up and visualize the many different changes that the prize money can affect at OH; after all, it is this exact creativity and imagination that the XQ Institute aims to foster.