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Common Ground

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Berkeley Public Schools > Berkeley High School > Common Ground

March 2002

My son will be attending Berkeley High School next year and would like to apply for one of the Small Learning Communities. Does anyone have advice or recommendations about the Common Ground SLC? I have received a few negative comments about the program regarding a bad field trip last year. Have problems been corrected? Mary

My son is currently a freshman at BHS and part of the Common Ground SLC. He is very happy with all of his teachers, the degree of interest his teachers show in him and his performance and the courses that are offered as part of Common Ground. (They parallel the regular 9th Grade curriculum but are taught by Common Ground teachers and have been taught in double period blocks so that yearlong courses are condensed into 1/2 of a semester. The advantage for my son was that he had fewer classes as he transitioned into BHS.)

As to the "bad" field trip, it did not effect my son negatively other than leaving him disappointed when the trip was cut short. Also, much discussion and analysis took place after the trip among Common Ground teachers and parents as to how to avoid a similar situation in the future and I feel confident that the same problems will not recur.

In short, my son feels and I agree that Common Ground has been a great experience for him especially during his first year at BHS. Judy

My daughter is a junior. She tried regular BHS for the first year, CAS for the second and is now in CG. This has been her best experiece of BHS. She is a smart student who really wants to learn. She loves the teachers in CG. The trip that got such a bad reputation was a problem, yes. But changes have been made. The teachers care a lot and bend over backwards to make things work. That is from my perspective as a parent. By the way, there is nothing wrong with CAS; it is just that my daugher feels a greater kinship with the environmental issues and with the students who have those concerns. M.S
In response to the inquiry about BHS Common Ground I have a Junior that is very active in the CG program. Since she joined this small community I have seen her do a complete turn around from Freshman and sophomore year at BHS. In all of her previous school years she had always loved school and done well both socially and academically. The first two years of Berkeley High had nearly done her in. She witnessed her best friend attacked and beaten. She put up with a teacher not remembering her name after taking classes for two consecutive semesters. She struggled with a science teacher that basically refused to give her any help when she was struggling. By the end of her sophomore year she was ready to quit.

The Common Ground has nutured and inspired her. She is excited and there is no stopping her now. The difference is nothing short of miraculous. Every Common Ground teacher that I have met is totally available. At back to school night the boards had personal email addresses and phone numbers. I have not seen such a dedicated bunch of teachers before. There is also wonderful parent involvement. If you can possibly get your child into the program do it. T.H.

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