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Posted on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

Community High School lottery: An emotional experience for Ann Arbor students

By Danielle Arndt

Andrea Shapiro ran her finger down the list of numbers posted on the window outside Community High School Tuesday afternoon.

In the next instant, she was jumping up and down, a giant smile stretched from ear to ear. A group of students nearby shouted to Shapiro, "Did you get in?" She nodded her head fiercely.

With just 114 seats and 454 applicants, the shrieks and students leaping for joy were minimal outside Community High School Tuesday, as kids trickled in after class to get their lottery numbers.

Shapiro's happiness soon turned to disappointment when she realized she had misread her student I.D. number and actually drew a lottery number in the 200s. The Slauson Middle School eighth-grader had hopes of becoming involved in Community's music program. She plays the piano and the guitar.

"But it's OK," Shapiro said. "Some of my friends didn't get in either. So we'll go to Pioneer. It'll be OK."

Community, the alternative public high school in downtown Ann Arbor, conducts a double-blind lottery each winter to determine its incoming freshmen class for the following school year.

Statistically, only about a third to a quarter of the students who apply have a chance of getting in.

The lawn behind the school Tuesday was speckled with groups of somber teens, hugging and consoling one another after discovering their lottery number was too high. Many students cried. Several others paced the sidewalks and called their parents on their cell phones to talk about which other high schools they possibly could attend.

For students whose numbers fell between 200 and 300, current Community high-schoolers could be heard offering words of encouragement: "Well, maybe second semester," or "Next year you could get called."

Frances MacKercher, a ninth-grader at Community High this year, recalled her lottery experience. She was one of the lucky ones: She got in, but none of her friends did. It made her decision hard, she said. MacKercher wasn't sure whether to attend Community or to attend her home school of Skyline.

"I really wasn't that excited because I was kind of torn on where to go," she said. "I decided to try it, knowing I could always drop out if I didn't like it."

In hindsight, choosing Community was one of the best decisions MacKercher has made. She loves the teachers and the forums and has made a number of new friends who share her interest, which right now is photography, she said.

Gabe Share, an eighth-grader at Ann Arbor Open School, walked down to the school Tuesday with about 15 to 20 of his AAO peers — all of whom applied to attend Community. The trek from AAO is a bit of tradition, one parent said. The students walk together to check the list.

Share did not get in. He said he wanted to attend Community because his sister went to CHS and really enjoyed her experience.

Zach Cameron, another AAO student, did get in. He drew lottery No. 93.

"I'm really excited," he said. "Because I went to Ann Arbor Open, I feel like they run the same, and I really liked the open environment. And I feel like the teachers (at Community) are all really good."

A number of students and parents cited the teachers as part of the appeal of Community, as well as the smaller environment when compared to one of the larger comprehensive high schools.

Vanessa Revelli's son, Slauson Middle School student Vincent Barlow, was No. 46 in Community's lottery. Revelli said as a parent, she supported her son's decision to apply. He's a very artistic kid, she said, and she liked that the school was smaller than his home school, Pioneer.

"I've never seen him so excited. He yelled. He gave me a hug and was pumping his fists in the air. I've probably gotten more hugs today than I ever have," Revelli said.

She added she likes the curriculum at Community and how her son will be able to custom build his education more than at a comprehensive high school. Revelli also said the teachers seem very enthusiastic and committed to the Community model and the subjects they teach.

The curriculum and students' test scores at Community were driving factors for Tod Durkin and his son, Conor, in applying to the school.

"(Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent) Patricia Green should set up a desk in the Community office or something and take notes on what they're doing here. Because whatever it is, it's working," Tod Durkin said.

Conor Durkin, an eighth-grader at Forsythe Middle School, was No. 143 in the lottery, so he was told he was "on the bubble" and likely will get in. He said he likes that Community has more unique electives and courses available for students. He hopes to take the astrophysics class, he said.

And there is the added benefit of having an open campus and being able to walk to Kerrytown for lunch, Conor Durkin said.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Sat, Feb 16, 2013 : 4 a.m.

Your friends and neighbors have chosen you ...... lotteries have an intersting history, eh?


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

Our other schools have stepped up. Regarding teachers' children attending the school. I believe that is addressed in the application paperwork. And, if I remember correctly, if their children enroll it is over and above the allowed enrollment number so it does not change another students chance of enrolling. Also, a spot is not opened up when these teachers' children leave the school. I did overhear a conversation, though, regarding a family who lived in Ypsilanti and was entering their children in the lottery. Apparently her kids were attending Ann Arbor schools even though they lived in Ypsilanti. I did not hear the whole conversation but she said that her children were "grandfathered" into Ann Arbor schools since they had gone there when they were younger. Does anyone else know about this ability to be "grandfathered" in to Ann Arbor Public Schools?


Fri, Feb 15, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

I agree completely Calm Down. And I was so relieved to read Ms. Shapiro's comment, hoping that that is the way that most of the students and families felt. I am a 1983 graduate of Community and part of my responsibility as a student there was to get as many of my friends to enroll as possible in order to keep the school open. Well, the school did stay open - but it has changed quite a bit from those days. It has really come closer to the middle, and, thankfully, the traditional high schools have adapted somewhat, becoming more flexible. We really do have sooo many choices here with the very strong traditional high schools plus Arbor Prep, Newtech, WIHI, WTMC, ECA, and Community. There are pros and cons to all of the schools. I have several children and all but one of them have entered the lottery to go to Community. Some may have done well there, and others would not have. None of them "won". I guess we beat the odds by having so many chances and striking out every time! I refuse to get into the drama of it. It is easier to get the information online anyway, than to go down to the school to see if you were one of the lucky ones...although I do understand how that may be fun and exciting to some students, and a kind of rite of passage for AAO students, it just adds to the whole carnival atmosphere of the process in my mind. I will note that I never had a traditional class held in a classroom at Community. I rarely went to the school itself (much like I rarely went to Huron when I was enrolled there!) The difference was that while I was "not at school" I was either involved in a supervised independent study, or taking a class held somewhere in the community. For some reason my report cards make mention that I was not going to Forum. So, at that time the school could be different things for different people. I really do think the requirements are much stricter now, and the school curriculum more mainstream. And our other schools have st


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

The most important part of this entire story comes from Ms. Shapiro: "But it's OK," Shapiro said. "Some of my friends didn't get in either. So we'll go to Pioneer. It'll be OK." First, it's the truth. Second, Andrea's approach to the process is the healthiest I've seen, both in the article and the comments section. You don't always get what you want, and it rarely makes as big a difference as you think it will.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

@ towncryer, re: "Wow. Stereotype much?" OK, OK, so you don't like my saying that, back in the pre-lottery days, "those lines were filled with doctors' wives, trading off with their hired nannies to keep their places." Fair enough. So let me say it this way: "Because their parents had more time and money to throw at the problem, kids from affluent, single-income families ended up being disproportionately represented in the student body." And there were, historically, PLENTY of doctors' wives and their hired help in those lines. Along with PLENTY of lawyers' and other professionals' wives (and of course, husbands, too). The fact remains that the old system was a privileged one, and the lottery is way more egalitarian. That is the important part. I apologize for the stereotypical shorthand that I used, accurate though it was, if also incomplete.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 4:02 a.m.

Fair enough, lol. Certainly the lottery system is more fair than waiting in line for the reasons you state, but I bet if we dig deeper, there are still things that make the student body a bit disproportionate even today, i.e. difficulty with transportation, the mandatory meetings before the lottery, etc... The website says there is no cafeteria, does that mean there are no hot lunches if a child qualifies for the free lunch program? I happy for all the kids who got in, it's just a shame that AAPS doesn't become proactive in finding other solutions for all the kids who apply and don't get in.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

FYI that Skyline offers SLCs (Small Learning Communities), which are very similar to Community's forums that have been praised in the comments here. It was definitely one of the attractions, when we first went to their open house. My daughter originally applied to CHS as well, but drew a number close to 400. She was unhappy at the time, but after having attended Skyline this year, she is happy at the outcome and will choose to remain at Skyline for the rest of her high school education. As to another parent's comment about being turned off by Skyline's administration, in my experience thus far, I completely agree with most of my interactions. However, the teachers and counselors that I have met so far have been nothing less than wonderful and are passionate about their students.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:46 p.m.

Sorry, LuvAA, from what I see and hear around the district, any resemblance between Skyline's implementation of Small Learning Communities and CHS Forums is mostly in the minds of the staff at Skyline. All 3 comprehensive high schools have Small Learning Communities in some form or another, especially as a way to support freshmen in the transition to high school and none of them have had much success in achieving the stated goals of the program. If a student turns out to "click" with the other students and staff in his or her SLC, it works out OK. No particular benefit, but no harm either. If there is no connection, then the process as implemented in AAPS's comprehensive high schools means the kid is stuck during most of his or her classes with the teachers, counselors, and other students in that particular Small Learning Community. Heaven help a kid stuck in a SLC with someone, student or adult, who bullies or harasses them.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

@ pegret, re: "Are children of staff/administrators actually given priority in the lottery?" No, they are not. The staff merely agreed to waive their contract-stipulated class size limits to accommodate those few extra kids OVER AND ABOVE the full contingent of lottery admissions. I don't know if there have ever been more than three staff kids enrolled at one time, and I think there are two this year. You'd have to ask someone who works there.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

OK, hmsp, that makes sense now. Thanks for clarifying.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:42 p.m.

Right, Chris, That's what I said. And, as I said, they DO NOT bump any kids off the bottom of the list. The lottery kids get in whether there are any staff kids coming up, or not.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

Staff members' children don't have to enter the lottery - they get in automatically. I know two incoming 9th graders and I suspect there are more.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Community is a good school, but there always seems to be a misconception in Ann Arbor that it is a hands-down, better school. It's just a school that might just be a better fit for certain students. I've known students who succeded at Community, but I knew many students who went there and had issues who might of done better in the Pioneer or Huron environment.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

It's all about the student and the environment. Some kids do very poorly at CHS. This is Ann Arbor, we value education and all the schools reflect that...


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

@ Psudolus. And if you had not won the lottery, you would still have ended-up in your current occupation. You're a bit rusty on your Greek literature. The spelling of the character in the play is: "PsEudolus" (google it), known through the ages as "The Deceiver."


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

Belboz, or anyone else who may know: Are children of staff/administrators actually given priority in the lottery? Presenters at their open houses in the past have insisted that their lottery was not manipulated in any way. Also, your picture captions all refer to students looking for names. My understanding was that only student id numbers are published, and those are technically not supposed to be given out to friends.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

Thanks Danielle, I agree! ChrisW and hmsp explain about the staff members' kids pretty well below.

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Pegret, I will ask about the children of staff/administrators. And you are correct. Names are not posted, just students' I.D. numbers. There were, however, of number of students at CHS Tuesday searching for their friends' numbers, so I'm guessing students do give these numbers out to their peers. I even saw some parents there looking for their friends' children's numbers. It'd be hard for any process to be flawless, I think.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

@ aparent, re: "It used to be parents had to stand in line and wait to get their kids into Community -- at least that showed some level of commitment. Now anyone can get it (sic)." And those lines were filled with doctors' wives, trading off with their hired nannies to keep their places. If you were a two-income family it was extremely difficult to dedicate several days to just standing in line. CHS now has a much more diverse student population.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

Wow. Stereotype much?


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

I was number 13 in the first lottery in 1992, I remember the feeling!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

Remember the dimwitted decision of the man who killed the goose that laid golden eggs to "get all the gold inside"!

Jim Mulchay

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

First thought is 400+ applications - over 4 years that gives about 1,600 - just about the designed capacity of Skyline - so you make Skyline "community"; return to two comprehensive high schools both slightly larger than they are now; sell the community building; There are likely a multitudes of good reason not to do that, but it is an idea that allows more to participate in the community experience (first complaint is likely "that's too many in community!); As far as operation costs - no, community does not have any athletic costs - the comprehensive schools provide that along with some (how many?) of the "normal" classes;


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

It used to be parents had to stand in line and wait to get their kids into Community -- at least that showed some level of commitment. Now anyone can get it. The school is based on the luck of the draw. Why don't we ever celebrate anything other than mediocrity? Why don't kids and parents have to prove they deserve to go to this school?

say it plain

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 5:03 p.m.

ah, @Mortimer, you reveal some reasons for the numbers Community puts up in terms of student 'achievement'! Like a private school, and unlike the other public schools in town, Community can kick out "underperformers", nice!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

No one deserves to be there more than anyone else. To some extent you do have to prove you belong there because a lot of kids get tossed out if they don't make the grades or show up to class...


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

What would be the point of making a family "prove" their kid belonged at Community? How do you measure proof? Camping on the lawn of the school for two weeks is enough "commitment" for you? What's wrong with opening up the process so that families unable to have someone spend their nights camping out at CHS have a shot at sending their kid to the school?


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Another case of who you know. I know families where both their children win" the lottery. And why do staff members children get preferential choice? With all of the pay to pay I have to support, I would think Community charge students a fee.

Linda Peck

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : noon

I agree with Mr. Tod Durkin, the superintendent of schools, Ms. Green, should come to Community High School and take notes. Obviously, something is going very right here.

say it plain

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 11:05 a.m.

It's nice to be optimistic, but I don't think anyone with a number higher than like 190 or so has a chance of getting in, at least as I understand it, for recent years. The demand is quite high, and Community isn't so "alternative" as it once was, so there are far fewer kids I think who decide "it's not really for them". Community has in recent years been clearly emphasizing how great their test scores are and what colleges their kids get into, so, it appeals to a much much wider swath of parents. Indeed, it is also my understanding that the school has been marketing itself to the private schools in town rather aggressively, which I find problematic as well. If it's going to get marketed as an 'elite magnet' program...and I've heard tell of a lot of parents who speak of it that way!...then they should just make it a test-in thing and give up this idea of it being "an alternative"? It's changed a lot, is my understanding.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

The community of Ann Arbor has again voted with their feet and they clearly want what CHS has to offer: a rigorous academic environment that is supported by caring adults who have real relationships with students. The teachers at Community do not have bigger hearts - they have the forum program that enables real relationships to take root. Nor do folks have bigger brains there - they have genuinely diverse course offerings that put education in the hands of the students. Heterogenous course offerings and forum are replicable throughout the district and we would be lucky to ever find a superintendent who realizes this.

say it plain

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

Here here! *Replicate* these programs that make Community so desirable! A lot of it is surely replicable, but apparently we can't get past debating on physical plant. Skyline has been built, we can't unbuild it, and they seem to try to replicate some aspects, but fail in many ways to get the core stuff right, is my understanding.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 7:47 a.m.

Community High is an "idea" that time has passed. It does Not prepare its students for life in 21st Century America. Mainly it is a retreat-bastion for professor's kids "aiming" for a "Liberal Arts" college curriculum. And the AAPS administrator doofus's indulge in a Gambler's Lottery to "select" the student body! How Obscene is That? Meanwhile American Culture marches past! Those Not "selected by gambling lottery" are the Real Winners! Community High School "prepares" its students for the 20th Century. More's the pity . . .

say it plain

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

You know what it shares with the "21st century" for sure?! A willingness to be hypocritical in self-service! To wit, from the front page on its website, for an allegedly "alternative" school (your points about liberal professorial so-on-and-so-forth may have been reasonable to consider back looong ago now, when it was still truly 'alternative'!): " Community High School Mission Statement CHS is a rigorous academic college preparatory magnet school which encourages students to use the entire community as a resource for study, and fosters the development of independent learners who practice personal and social responsibility as they prepare for their post-secondary experience. " This from a school that also claims to eschew AP and AC classes. Well, unless they're taken at other schools, by students from their own! You'd think this was a test-in school from this blurb. Indeed, with the low-requirements of their regular classes, and the high attention they get from teachers and counselors, they surely *should* score very very well on standardized tests (have lots of time to study for them!) and get very very high GPAs (without the rigors of the AC and APs, unless of course they choose to take them elsewhere). There's also a link on their front page for the benefit of their student-athletes, funny, but I thought they didn't have an athletics program because they focused on *other* things! But, they do make sure their students who use the Varsity Sports sponsored by the "way too big environments" of the large high schools in town know about NCAA eligibility issues! I guess they take very very seriously the "make use of the full community" part of their mission statement. I think it's a good bet that this and no 'special secret ingredient' other than much fuller support and boosterism of their own students is why their students "do so well".


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

I am an attorney in A2 and a commie high grad, so I have insight here, and you could not be more wrong. When I graduated in 1996, almost 10 percent of the class was national merit finalists, that does not happen anywhere else save the best private schools (cranbrook, Choate, Andover).

Middle America

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

PineyWoodsGuy often advocates hanging young thieves so they won't steal when they are "auld". His opinion on anything involving kids should be ignored.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:28 a.m.

It is the third highest performing school in the state of michigan. The data says you're dead wrong.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:06 a.m.

Hey, stay in those piney woods, guy... What are you talking about? Shall I list alumni that went on to do great things? Shall I list those from my own class that have gone on to own their own companies or create their own horizons? The only obscenity here is a closed mind...

Angry Moderate

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 7:06 a.m.

"Statistically, only about a third to a quarter of the students who apply have a chance of getting in." Unless there's something funny going on with the lottery, everyone who applies should have a CHANCE of getting in.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:44 a.m.

I'm so happy I got into Community waaaay back in '97. I don't think I would have survived going to Huron. I was bullied my entire middle school years and I KNEW Huron would just be worse. Such a big relief! None of my friends even tried to get in, but I knew Community was where I could be myself and not be ridiculed. I did cartwheels. To those who got in, Congrats! To those who didn't, it can still happen! It's worth the wait!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 5:48 a.m.

If a student draws a number and is picked randomly this does not mean that they were accepted based on merit. It's just luck. I am frustrated with the way this story was presented and the overall lottery process. All students should have access to top notch education. Ann Arbor missed the mark with Skyline.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:32 a.m.

@ say it plain, re: "Let's make the kids at Community *stay at Community* instead of being able to do sports at the "way too big environments" that allow for big Varsity Sports programs" Uhh... Why would we do that, since their parents have paid their full share for those programs? And be prepared to feel the wrath of several Pioneer coaches, and two ADs, who have been tickled pink to have my son for 5 Varsity seasons!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

So basically your child is at Community and that is why you are attacking others opinions, hmsp? I completely agree with your premise of allowing people to have their feelings despite the big picture (i.e. "i don't feel good"---"suck it up, at least you don't have cancer", etc..), but I think you are oversimplifying the idea that parents should "do something" if more kids want an experience like Community for their kids. It seems to me that people have been complaining about this for awhile, including when the whole Skyline thing was on the table. Obviously, the powers that be don't want to listen, not sure of the reasoning. I would really be interested in someone from the board/administration addressing this if they can stop focusing on the achievement gap for more than five minutes.

say it plain

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

No, the parents paid into a system of schools, and CHS is part of that. When you gain the small wonderful school with funky courses and teachers who care to counsel and get to know their students (not to say there are *none* of those at the big schools, but the environments don't support it any where near as much), you should be giving up the ADs and coaches and get sports in some other place. Or transfer to Pioneer. Your son's coach would be fine with your son transfering I'd guess! The costs of kids at CHS do not include their use of the facilities and classes at the big schools. And until recently, the AAPS was paying something like 250,000 dollars a year to pay for school buses to get your son and his teammates to the big schools. There are some reasons for rejecting the idea that the CHS parents have paid anywhere near "full share " for those programs.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:13 a.m.

@ CLX, re: "we should be questioning why a few select kids have the privilege to go there (limited by their parents ability to get them there)" Want to cite a few facts to support this outrageous claim?


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

@ mortimer---NO AAPS buses take kids to and from Community, so if you want to go to Community, you must either take public transportation or be driven privately, both of which cost money which may make it more difficult for some students. Unless I'm not reading between your lines and you meant something else ;)


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

What does this original statement mean exactly? I don't want to read between the lines here...


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:03 a.m.

@ HappyCamper33: Pardon the sarcasm in my previous post, appropriate as it might have been, and let me try again: Telling people that they "shouldn't" feel the way that they do is almost always an exercise in futility, especially since people quite often have very legitimate reasons for feeling the way that they do. Rather than lecturing these kids, telling them to suck it up, and resign themselves to an impersonal, way-too-big environment, why not think for a minute about what it is that gets kids impassioned about going to a particular school? Unless a person is completely clueless, there has to be some take-away from seeing kids so impassioned, other than the urge to wag ones finger. Listen to those kids, and learn!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 3:52 a.m.

As a CHS alumni, I can sing nothing but praise for this school. If you have a number under 200, you'd be surprised how quickly you can get in. This school is not for everybody. Some people realize this and leave on their own accord, others leave when they just can't handle the freedom. At that time a lot of people on the list have settled and choose to stay. The list moves quick. I hope the best for you guys, no matter which school... take advantage of all it has to offer.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

Showing a picture of someone who's parents both work for AAPS is only going to fuel the conspiracy theories, lol.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

@Lola, now i get what you are saying, i misread the caption, the student who's parents both work for AAPS is ALREADY a student at community, not incoming freshman--my mistake.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

@ Lola, so in picture #4 you do not see a caption that reads that a student hugs a friend after learning she got it, which includes her name and the persons face is visible in the photo?


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.

None of the captions state that.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Its in the captions of the photos.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

And who would that be? There are no faces shown of students who actually got in.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:42 a.m.

"Statistically, only about a third to a quarter of the students who apply have a chance of getting in." Umm... How about 114/454 = .251? One quarter of the students who apply will have a chance of getting in.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 10 p.m.

And that's for this year - chances were better in previous years.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

Sounds like @dd went to a school where they teach math!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 7:08 a.m.

Actually, all the students who applied have a chance of getting in. But only 114 will get in.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

Yes, even if some who were chosen turn it down and those just beyond the number to be "in" get "in," it's still about 1/4 of the applicants getting to go to Community.

P. Shah

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:34 a.m.

Given the fact that about a third of rising Ann Arbor public school freshman and their parents and families value the a "community high" educational experience, why doesn't Ann Arbor Public Schools make such an option available to more students? My understanding is that Community High does not require more money per pupil than the other high schools. There are certainly trade-offs (Community does not have a practice and game football field, 2 swimming pools, and 2 gymnasiums like skyline nor does it have a large variety of languages or AP classes). But many parents and students feel that a smaller community, the open campus, the opportunity for students to take charge and responsibility for their own learning is more important. My son was one of those who drew an extremely high lottery number (in the 400's) and has absolutely no hope of getting into Community. He cried this afternoon and lamented the potential opportunity loss. Of course he will have a good academic experience at Skyline, but I would give my right arm for him to be in the close knit, caring community that I saw at Community High. And for what it's worth, I was not at all impressed with Skyline's open house. The focus was on administrators rather than teachers and students, the tone was cold and formal, and the speeches were so full of educational jargon and condescension towards highly educated parents that I was completely turned off as was my son.


Thu, Feb 14, 2013 : 9:59 p.m.

I couldn't agree with you more Chester: Skyline has some of the BEST teachers in Ann Arbor, (but unfortunately, some of the WORST administrators...) It is the teachers that will make the biggest difference in a student's life.

Chester Drawers

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

P. Shah, You are right; the administrators at Skyline are a pretty egocentric bunch. However, they have a lot of wonderful teachers and counselors and, with any luck, your son will have minimal to no contact with the arrogant principals.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

Unfortunately Cossur, while many students manage dual enrollment very well, Skyline does NOT encourage it. The trimesters make it difficult, and once registered at Skyline, we were strongly discouraged from pursuing dual enrollment at Community.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

One word: DUAL!


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:40 a.m.

I have not seen current figures but historically the cost per pupil was higher at Community than at Huron and Pioneer. Contact hours are calculated differently with forum and obviously the overhead/student would be greater. I went to Community and loved it but it has definitely changed and was changing as I left in the early 1990's. It isn't for everyone and part of its uniqueness is a smaller environment which the current state funding cuts in no way support.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 4:10 a.m.

Best of luck to you and your son. Just a reminder, intro speeches are just that...a a bunch of jargon and not actual... as how to the day to day operations will be upheld. From what I understand... Skyline is a fine school full of supportive staff and parents. Take what you can, there are perks...

Scott Reed

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:15 a.m.

There should be more schools in the walkable downtown area and fewer in the asteroid belt. CHS has an awesome location, right in the downtown, unlike almost every other high school I've seen in southeast Michigan.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:22 p.m.

As it turns out the schools are where the children are, which is not in the "walkable downtown". Actually not all that many people live in the "walkable downtown", and most of them are college students. But don't let reality stop you.

Wolf's Bane

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:23 a.m.

CHS is one of the best public schools in Michigan.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

I would suggest you use another term than "accepted" to say a student's number wasn't chosen. This implies that Community High School selects students in the manner of a private school. Community pulls names in a lottery, and those who get the high numbers are "disappointed" or "unlucky" or "got a high number," but they were not "rejected." Those who get the low numbers are "gratified" or "lucky" or "got a low enough number to enter the school," but they were not "accepted."


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

@ HappyCamper33: Pardon the sarcasm in my previous post, and let me try again: Telling people that they "shouldn't" feel the way that they do is almost always an exercise in futility, especially since people quite often have very legitimate reasons for feeling the way that they do. As they say, "First, seek to understand." Rather than lecturing these kids, telling them to suck it up, and resign themselves to an impersonal, way-too-big environment, why not think for a minute about what it is that gets kids impassioned about going to a particular school? Unless a person is completely clueless, there has to be some take-away from seeing kids so impassioned other than an urge to wag ones finger. Listen to those kids, and learn!

say it plain

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 3:20 a.m.

I agree, @CLX...I think that there are many ways to be happy at the larger schools. But the thing is, I believe that most kids at Community aren't at all in danger of "not making it" at a larger school. I believe that many of them do stuff at the larger schools, sports, advanced classes, languages and music and theater not offered at Community, and are fine with all that. What they *do* get at Community that is missing at the large schools is forum--any real kind of *advising* and close relationships with teachers and counselors, and real help with "personalizing" their education. It's not just the funky class offerings, it's the *support*, and this is missing from the larger schools in many ways. Plus massive grade inflation and lots of outside help for achieving if they are so inclined for the lucky winners :-)


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:14 a.m.

I think the point was that some students may be disappointed because they have made assumptions that the other schools won't be as good, or won't fit their needs, or are too big and impersonal, and that such assumptions may well be incorrect. There are so many stereotypes about the schools around here (including the one that Community is where the kids who cannot survive a real school go -- the incorrect perceptions work both ways). You stated that the big schools are too impersonal, but they obviously are not for the hundreds of kids who have wonderful experiences at the bigger schools each year. With over a hundred clubs and tons of sports, music, and theater groups, there are plenty of ways to find a smaller group within a larger one. I went to a large school, and i remember thinking how small it was by the time I graduated. Scaring kids about the big bad schools out there is nonsense. if Community were truly such a superior experience, we should be questioning why a few select kids have the privilege to go there (limited by their parents ability to get them there), while the rest get a second-rate education. Lottery or not, such an inequality should be completely unacceptable.

say it plain

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

Let's make the kids at Community *stay at Community* instead of being able to do sports at the "way too big environments" that allow for big Varsity Sports programs, and the "way too big environments" that allow for big theater productions and the "way too big environments" that allow for AP and AC classes and we'll see who stays impassioned about the school. It'll probably be the kids who really really want to be in that alternative environment, and who really really would most benefit from it and who are least well served in the "way too big environments" of the comprehensive high schools. I'd love to listen to those kids, but a lot of those kids and their parents are excited at least as much about how they truly won a big lottery--they get to get the best of all worlds at AAPS, and we don't seem to have a problem with continuing to allow them to do so, despite tight budgets. They don't have to give up *anything* really, so what's not to be "impassioned" about?


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

@ HappyCamper33, re: "The kids who didn't get into community shouldn't feel bad. The kids in third world countries who can't get an education because there are no schools --- feel bad for them." Ah, yes. The old, "People-are-starving-in-China-so-finish-every-bite-of-that-god-awful-crap-on-your-plate," argument. Right.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:41 a.m.

Sorry that you saw it in such a miserable way, but since i was suggesting that Pioneer is NOT crap, i'll stand by my post. Thanks for your cheerful comment.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:13 a.m.

I really dislike this story. Not only does it paint a picture of the other highschools in this city being inferior, but encourages kids to feel bad about something that they absolutely shouldn't feel bad about - going to an amazing school like Pioneer or Skyline. My understanding is that Pioneer is a topnotch, state of the art, amazing high school and kids should feel lucky to go to any of these schools. I fully understand the reason that some families would prefer their child to go to a smaller school like Community, especially if their children have special needs or can't handle a larger setting. But i also encourage parents to remember that the world is a 'big place'. There is a lot out there to be offered . Emrace it ! The kids who didn't get into community shouldn't feel bad. The kids in third world countries who can't get an education because there are no schools --- feel bad for them.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

"t's because of the teaching philosophy and opportunities for individualized learning that they will not get at the other high schools in Ann Arbor" "My *experience* is that Pioneer is not that at all." These statements are really sad. How can the BOE, in good conscious, let there be such a discrepancy between schools? They have been focussing on "equity" and the gap for so long, it seems part of the solution to those concerns would be to make sure all the schools are able to give students the type of learning environment needed to succeed, imo.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

"My understanding is that Pioneer is a topnotch, state of the art, amazing high school and kids should feel lucky to go to any of these schools." My *experience* is that Pioneer is not that at all. What we're lucky to have, in Ann Arbor , are so many options.

B Smith

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

Its obvious from your post that you know nothing about the teaching philosophy at Community. The reason that students are flocking there, and they get 5 applications for every slot is not because all of these kids have "special needs or can't handle a larger setting" it's because of the teaching philosophy and opportunities for individualized learning that they will not get at the other high schools in Ann Arbor. Get your facts straight before you go spouting off.

Linda Diane Feldt

Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

I'm so sorry for all those who didn't make it. I wish Ann Arbor gave more options for those who want, and for those who need, an alternative to the other high schools. I'm class of '76, the first to go all four years after CHS opened in 1972. It has made all the difference in my life. If you didn't make it, look for the alternative opportunities in the conventional high schools. They are there. Often with individual teachers. You can make your own alternative education, it just takes a bit more perseverance.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

I suppose if I was one of those students I would be trying to get into Community as well. My Ann Arbor high School class had over 900 kids in it. Much too large.


Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 6:14 p.m.

I liked the fact that pioneer was so large--it meant that we had a lot of class options generally not available at smaller schools.