An ode to my time at OAHS
With the documentation of Orcutt Academy High School’s past, we have been able to assemble a comprehensive review of the charter school after its tenth anniversary this past year. As a senior on track to graduate later this spring, I have been a part of 40% of the school’s lifetime. I want to look back at my time here and see how this unique school has shaped me, as well as attempt to look towards the future of the establishment as a whole.
High school is an important part of everyone’s life, and in some ways, it affects who you end up becoming in your life. This is certainly true for me and my time at Orcutt Academy (OA). While I could attribute this to connections I’ve made with friends and the things I’ve done and been involved with, overall, I have the school to thank.
While the high school today isn’t a one to one copy of what its founders intended, they did get one thing right: the environment. The community-like, close-knit environment at Orcutt Academy is absolutely incredible. While its students can find it difficult to rally behind a school on an elementary campus with old bathrooms and no gym or football field, they all end up being connected and close nonetheless. It’s easy to know lots of students, almost all of the staff know your name and genuinely care about you, and because so many students are so involved, it really feels like everyone is doing their part to keep the school afloat; it truly is a community.
My time at the school has been great because of this sense of community. Of course the trade off to this is missing out on a “real” high school experience, but the culture of the school is, in my opinion, irreplaceable. If you are at all involved in something at OA, you are presented with countless opportunities to try new things, meet new people, and feel like a part of something.
Whether it be from a fellow student, a teacher, a club, or a sport; every day at Orcutt Academy is one where I feel like I matter.
This is the beauty of the school: no student is just a number. This isn’t to say that all high schools have the problem of students feeling unimportant, but Orcutt Academy makes a point of working to fight against this. Stemming from a caring and devoted staff, students are pushed to excel and have an enormous support system behind them in whatever they do.
Whatever the future entails for Orcutt Academy High School, this aspect of it must remain. This is the reason why Orcutt residents should favor this school over St. Joseph High or Ernest Righetti High School; this is the reason why parents should send their children here; this is the reason why I am proud to be a Spartan.
Lucky for the Orcutt Union School District and Orcutt Academy, not much needs to change for this to keep working. I think to keep this environment alive, however, the school needs to stay small and the staff needs to continue to be top-notch.
In the past two years, the school has added on fifty students to its total- increasing it up to 650. Following this trend and increasing the school’s total capacity is, in my opinion, not a good idea. The school’s small size is a big factor in what makes it feel different and special and helps to create its unique culture.
And the keepers of this culture are, of course, the staff at the school. While no school staff will ever be perfect, the OA staff is close to it. I hope administration at both the district and the school realize how important the teachers and staff are- to both the school and its students. Students see some teachers for two or more classes a day and it feels like half of them are a coach or advisor in addition to that. So, students will sometimes see these people for more than four hours a day, and in turn, both parties become very close. Students have favorite teachers, eat lunch in their rooms, and go to them with problems and concerns about everything.
With this in mind, I think staff should continue to be a priority. Raise the bar. Be thorough. Seek out and hire the most skilled educators possible. There is a reason it isn’t called “Orcutt High School”: it is put on by and serves the best of the best. If this is true in the school’s future, it will continue to succeed.
High school is an important part of everyone’s life; and Orcutt Academy High School has been an important part of mine. I speak for the entire student body when I say: thank you. While we make a big stink about the outdated bathrooms and other miscellaneous remnants of an ancient elementary school, we all stay for a reason and are better because of it. Congratulations on an excellent ten years. Here’s to ten more.