Herald Staff Writer
There will be no Friday night lights for Millennium Charter High School students in the traditional sense. But they will have plenty of Friday night activities, including covering football games alongside professional journalists.
Administrators at the Monterey County Office of Education are putting the finishing touches on the $1.5 million remodeling of its Blanco Circle offices in Salinas that will house Millennium. Set to start classes in August, the charter has 116 students enrolled — 58 freshmen and 58 sophomores — and its principal.
The governing board of Millennium announced Wednesday the appointment of Peter Gray as the school’s principal.
Gray, 52, the assistant principal at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas, begins his new job in July.
Gray said he is excited about “the opportunity to teach and be an administrator in a setting completely non-traditional. We’ll have all the Common Core Standards, all the assessments,” and everything mandated by the state.
“The magic of the school will be how we do it: by infusing the arts (in all subject areas), by doing things interdisciplinary and across curriculums,” he said.
Although Millennium will be unique to Monterey County, similar scholastic concepts have been popping up everywhere — from England, where Studio Schools that incorporate academics with on-the-job training are expanding, to construction and technology academies in San Diego. It is part of a recent trend to increase career education alongside academics to ensure students are prepared to join the workforce out of high school.
Through partnerships formed with local media outlets, including The Herald, students at Millennium will have a chance to learn what it takes to produce a television show or a commercial. The remodeled campus on Blanco Circle will include a Black Box Theater, a television station and a radio station.
“The (production) staff will be working and interacting with the (teaching) staff here,” said Hamish Tyler, director of the Media Center for Arts Education and Technology, part of the Office of Education. “It’s really an exciting and different way of looking at things.”
But the focus won’t be solely on job training, Gray said. Students will graduate ready to enroll in either California university system. The difference will be in the teaching. Instead of having every teacher remain in their own silo, they will be expected to collaborate more with each other, Gray said.
“Art, science and history are always taught in isolation,” he said. “Our goal is to blend those.”
Given the size of the school — enrollment will be capped at 225 students — there will be other constraints and advantages. There will be no sports teams or other amenities normally associated with a comprehensive high school. The size of the student body will mean special attention for every student, Gray said.
“We’ll know every child’s name, they’ll have an individualized learning plan,” he said. “We’ll reach them in a way that’s not possible in a large school.”