Other Voices: Bitney Springs’ move will strengthen school
You may have noticed a recent article in The Union briefly describing the move of Bitney College Preparatory High School (previously known as Bitney Springs) to the G-wing of the Nevada Union campus.
We are pleased to take this opportunity to speak specifically to the move and Bitney College Prep in general. As our name implies, we are a comprehensive site-based college preparatory high school. We have been for nine years. This means every student is on a college prep track. All core academic classes, and many electives, are approved University of California A-G courses. A very large percentage of our graduates go straight to college.
In addition, for seven of the last eight years, Bitney has achieved the highest score in the county on the Academic Performance Index, the state’s report card for schools.
But Bitney College Prep is more than that. We are a community. In fact, we have a saying, a sort of motto, if you will: “Bitney College Prep is a place where students are known, respected, and educated.” Catchy, we know. Cliche? Perhaps, but this statement is both true and quite accurately describes who we are and what we do.
How do we do this? First of all, we limit our size. Our total enrollment is currently just under 100 students. Our class sizes generally range from eight to as high as 24. A student or parent can typically meet with the principal or dean immediately, or more often than not, the same day.
How do we do this? By running a class for seniors focusing specifically on issues and topics important to seniors as they transition into the adult world: college applications, financial aid, personal finance and career choice, and the senior project. We are proud to say “Our Dean knows every student’s name and sees every senior, every day.”
How do we do this? By holding an all-school meeting once a week, hands-on experiential field trips and outings in all subject areas, an extensive community service requirement, and an all-school camping trip every September.
How do we do this? By having a small and dedicated teaching staff. All our teachers are credentialed and highly qualified. They choose to work at Bitney because they are in a better position to make a difference in a young person’s life. We adhere to the California standards, but teachers are encouraged to step out of the box and be creative to accomplish that end. Our commitment to community works both ways. Not only do our teachers know and respect each student in a way not possible in a large school environment, but students get to know and respect the teachers on a deeper level as well.
Yes, we find ourselves at a new campus. Some will say this move, made necessary by the district’s plans to re-locate some of their alternative programs, will impact the Bitney spirit. Others say Bitney will be absorbed by Nevada Union. Not so! We prefer to see it as an opportunity.
Any hardship, such as a move, often brings a family or community closer together.
We have a very active group of parents, students, and staff working to set up and beautify our new campus. From G-wing, at the very edge of the NU campus, we have a choice in our orientation. We can look up one hill, and see NU. We can look across the field and the conifers to another hill, and see Sierra College. We choose to orient ourselves toward Sierra College.
Many of our students have been attending classes at Sierra for years. Our new location makes that option more convenient. In fact, we work college classes into the schedules of many juniors and seniors. Thanks to Sierra College’s Dean Neal Albee for helping make this vision possible.
Our program remains unique and stands on its own. Bitney is not part of the Nevada Union District. We are a charter school, under the sponsorship of the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools. We will continue to operate under our own site-based Charter Council, and remain completely separate from NU’s administration. Bitney students will attend classes on our own closed campus, according to our own bell
As we look ahead to having our own campus at our own site in the not-so-distant future, this stopover presents an opportunity to further strengthen all the qualities that make Bitney College Preparatory High School unique and a true asset to our community.
Bruce Herring is the dean of academic affairs at Bitney College Preparatory High School. Marshall Goldberg is the principal .
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