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Los Angeles High School of the Arts

Students’ perspective on educational opportunities

“Money and education go hand in hand. School is a business. Like under the layers and layers of knowledge, and all the things you’re getting from your teachers, in the back of your mind you should also know ‘I’m worth like $53 an hour’. If you’re absent, the school loses money. It’s mainly because our government officials don’t know how to allocate money.” – Monica Macutay

My sister and I always talk about how our day at school went. Somehow, our conversation steered back to the day of DTASC, the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California competition.

As I walked out of the school bus, I saw numerous schools lined up before my eyes. The other participants seemed so confident, and self-assured of themselves and their work. Behind with them, were their families and friends who came along to support the school and their students.

The majority of the performers at the competition seemed “unfamiliar” and “different” to my peers and I, mainly because they were all from the Valley and from unknown cities in Southern California. During the performances, I noticed how many of the schools had something we didn’t have. It seemed that they were professionals just by watching them in the span of five minutes. On the other hand, our scene looked like a regular high school act performed by teenagers in LA.

My sister, Monica Macutay, was in the class of 2013 at Los Angeles High School of the Arts.

“I’ve always known that our school (LAHSA), even though we had opportunities, we were still at a disadvantage because a lot of people in our county that had more resources than us. A lot of them had more AP classes and more teachers,” she said.

She kept on insisting on not having the mentality that we’d always be classified lower than schools from the valley based on our performance and academic skills. Growing up in Koreatown my whole life, it’s hard for me to not think like that.

I thought to myself, maybe the location of the school plays a part in the academics of a student. So, I asked Jerald Sandel, a freshman at Diamond Bar High School, how he feels towards money and its uses in the educational programs.

“I don’t think it matters as much,” he said. “I’m taking non-tuition summer classes. You don’t necessarily have to pay for those classes. It’s a good way to get extra credits in so you have a higher chance to go into the college you want to go. I would pay for summer classes if I get a D or F in a class.”

He also says that his school, like other schools around California, provides a lot of extracurricular clubs and activities that students can take for free. Although he has these options, he prefers not to take them, but to let other students have the opportunity.

Sandel also took Kumon, a private tutoring organization, for two years. I asked him if he was pressured because his parents spent their own money on something he could get for free at a public school. Because it took place many years ago, he said that he really didn’t know how he felt about it in general. Yet, he didn’t think he needed a private tutor at the time.

Katie Adaya, a rising sophomore from Hollywood High School, said that she would and will spend money for her educational benefit if it is needed.

“I don’t know how much I’d spend, but I’d definitely use money when it’s necessary and use it to improve my education,” she said.

She also feels that all schools in LAUSD have the same opportunities because they are based under the same district. I asked her if investing extra money in private tutor can be the reason as to why a student would be farther in life compared to a student who doesn’t.

“Well, I think it depends. I mean, yeah, I guess,” Adaya added. “Because I mean if you really don’t understand a subject and you spend some extra time studying it, then you’ll improve. So spending more money to study will get you further in life.”

High schoolers all over LA County have a different perspective on the additional educational programs and classes that are provided for free. But when it comes to private tutors, it seems like they would still do anything to boost their intelligence even if it takes their own money out of their pocket.

To get a different perspective, I interviewed an 8th grader  Jethro Combate who attends John Burroughs Middle School. At his school, “there are various activities and clubs that are established due to the school’s willingness to fund the activities. One of them, in which [he is a part from], is the Academic Club, where [they] practice for academic competitions. Other clubs at [his school] are the sports club, chess club, and something called the “Developing a Leader”, which teaches people in the club to be a better leader.”

In addition to the clubs that John Burroughs has for students to freely take as an advantage, the school hosts multiple school wide events throughout the whole school year. At times, their budget can afford school concerts and minuscule parties. He tells me that only a minority of the students take part in these activities.

“I would say that people [who] take these advantages do have the “boost” of succeeding more in life because having experience of going to these events and clubs could and will benefit their mental thinking,” said Combate. “From what I’ve seen in my school, those people [who] have done these activities tend to be more mature and has leadership qualities than others.”

Combate believes that there will be many more opportunities compared to his middle school in high school. Sadly, he won’t have that “high school experience” that many look back at because he was recommended to attend Cal State LA.

He took the opportunities that were given to him at his middle school and used it to excel in his academics. Through these different clubs and of course his teachers, he is going to skip four years and go straight to college.

After interviewing different students from different families, I realized that even though money plays a big part of a student’s educational years, it’s always up to the student. If the student is given an educational opportunity, it is up to them to take the challenge and go for it.

 

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