This year is the 10th anniversary of Mountain View School, and each year has been better and more exciting than the one before.
"We had a banner year, last year," said Assistant Principal Ellen McCarthy. "It was our largest graduating class ever — 154 students total."
The 2005-'06 enrollment was expected to be around 360 students, peaking in February at 380. Mountain View serves students from 17 base high schools.
MCCARTHY SAID Mountain View is also celebrating "what appears to be very successful results of last year's SOL tests." And that's something quite significant at this alternative school where, she said, "80 percent of our kids work 40 hours a week."
Besides some new students, the school also has a new guidance counselor, Jim Lockwood, who hails from Robinson Secondary School, plus 12 new faculty members who'll teach classes in business, English, social studies and math. The science and social studies departments both have new chairmen, and there's also a new full-time technology coordinator, as well as a part-time technology specialist.
"The energy the new teachers have is contagious," said Deanna Weaver, director of student services. "They're very motivated and excited to be at a new school."
Even the school, itself, has a fresh, new face. Mountain View teachers are enjoying their lunchroom/workroom which has been redecorated into a snazzy, bistro atmosphere. Besides that, said McCarthy, "This summer, we jazzed up the building with new paint, and we hope to get new furniture for the career center. And we also received new, higher-end computers for our geosystems course."
Weaver said the library has been opened up with new furniture, some computers were shifted from there to the classrooms and some shelves were removed. The changes enable the school to provide some office space in the library for a staff room.
In addition, she said, "The library will be able to be used all day, rather than being tied up at certain times for computer labs. We now have three, wireless labs in classrooms."
Debbie Nagy was a Mountain View math teacher who coordinated the school's SOL tests, at the same time. Now, though, she's the assessment coach there, in charge of administering and organizing all the SOL tests, throughout the year.
SAID WEAVER: "She can then work with the test results with the teachers to determine instructional needs of individual students, as well as departmental performance."
Principal Jim Oliver's theme for the year is "Great Teachers, Not Programs, Make a School Great." Weaver said it means that "it's the human element and human interventions that make the difference in students' lives."
And appropriately enough, in his welcome-back letter to the Mountain View family of staff, Oliver wrote, "We are blessed to have a wonderful staff of inspiring educators." He then showed his gratitude in a more tangible way, on Aug. 29 — the first day back for teachers — when he treated the staff to a gourmet breakfast in the school gym.
"We've brought in some talented people and things are going well for us, so we're really pleased as we begin the start of the new school year," said McCarthy. "We all feel very upbeat and eager."