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Posted on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Record number of applicants hope for low numbers in Tuesday's Community High School lottery

By Danielle Arndt


Community High School in Ann Arbor will conduct its annual lottery drawing Tuesday to determine its incoming freshmen class for the 2013-14 academic year.

Daniel Brenner |

Previous coverage:

Beginning at 3 p.m. Tuesday, 454 eighth-grade students and their families will approach the back doors of Community High School with great anticipation.

There will be no need to enter the coveted school. Students' fates will be posted on the doors in the form of two numbers — their student I.D. number and, most importantly, a randomly assigned lottery number.

A student's chance of being admitted into Ann Arbor's Community High School decreases the further from 114 and the closer to 454 his or her lottery number is, said Community High counselor John Boshoven. There are some student who win the lottery but don't end up enrolling at Community, school officials said, allowing for numbers greater than 114 to have the opportunity to enroll in their place before fall.

Every year, more incoming ninth-graders than the previous year apply to fill one of 114 seats. Applications to Community for the 2013-14 academic year reached a new high at 454, Boshoven said.

Last year, CHS received 440 applications. In 2011-12, 408 students applied. The number of applicants in 2010-11 and 2009-10 were 330 and 369, respectively.

"We keep turning more and more away… I hate it," Boshoven said. "It's great to have so much interest in our program and so many people so invested in us, but it's hard when people don't get in that (our school) would be a good fit for."

The lottery drawing is double blind, Boshoven explained.

"It's kind of an archaic process the way we do it," he said of the lottery. "It's very Community High, very personal."

The actual drawing takes place in a small conference room. There usually are about 10 people in the room, including counselors, administrators, Parent Teacher Student Organization representatives and the student newspaper, to ensure the lottery is done fairly and accurately.

Pieces of paper with the names of CHS hopefuls on them are placed into a bowl on the table. Another bowl contains the numbers 1 through 454, Boshoven said. He added one volunteer draws a name, another draws a number; the two pieces of paper are stapled together and handed off to three secretaries, who each write down the student's name and corresponding lottery number in a notepad.

"It's called 'double blind' because the numbers are blind and the names are blind. Any name could get pulled at any time and get any number assigned to it," Boshoven said.

After all the names and numbers have been pulled from their respective bowls, the names and lottery numbers are typed up and triple-checked. All of the students in the lottery and their lottery numbers are posted on the back door of the high school at 3 p.m. the day of the lottery drawing.

However, students' names are not posted. Each student is assigned a student I.D. number that they use throughout their career with Ann Arbor Public Schools. Students look for their I.D. numbers to find out what their lottery numbers are.

No. 1 through No. 114 have first dibs on a spot.

"We try to avoid hysteria at the school," Boshoven said. "We want it to be anonymous for those involved. Getting in or not getting in can be an emotional thing. … We tell families to come together to check the lists and encourage the parents to bring their students so the student has the extra support."

He said CHS staff also are around in the afternoon and typically pass out information on various "next steps" for if a student got i to Community High and next steps for if he or she did not — "There are still opportunities to take a class or two with us," Boshoven said.

For the first time, Ann Arbor Huron and Pioneer high schools accepted open-enrollment applications for freshmen students within the district wishing to transfer and attend a school other than their residence-determined high school.

Both Huron and Pioneer have 25 open spots. Skyline also has its annual 100 spots open to in-district transfer students.

The total numbers of applications received for Huron, Pioneer and Skyline were not available Monday.

The deadline to apply for an in-district transfer to Huron and Pioneer was Thursday. Friday was the deadline for Community and Skyline applications.

District spokeswoman Liz Margolis said Monday the total number of applications received at each school would not be released to the public until the Board of Education had received the information. She could not provide a time estimate for when that would be.

Huron High School is hosting a Curriculum Night for incoming ninth-graders from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday in the school's Meyers Auditorium.

Pioneer's incoming freshmen orientation also is Tuesday, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the school's auditorium.

Ninth-graders offered a spot at Community have until March 1 to commit to attending the school.

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



Wed, Feb 13, 2013 : 8:26 a.m.

towncryer, I think you misread my post. NOT ONE of my children got in by the lottery. In it's earlier days the school was better known as the place for burnouts and unwed teens. They even had a very nice daycare center. So in 1985 there wasn't a line of kids waiting to get in or parents who wanted them to. My kids who graduated in 1988, 1989 and 1990 simply chose to enroll there. The first and third dual enrolled at Pioneer and also attended classes WCC at the same time. My point was that not getting in by the lottery does NOT eliminate the possibility of getting the experience of Community as a dual enrollee, as my younger children did. It's more complicated and requires a lot of initiative on the part of the student, but aren't those GOOD things to learn? My kids certainly are thriving from having learned those skills.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Clearly shows the stupidity of building Skyline, another huge factory high school, rather than going in the direction of more small schools like Community, when the research shows students do better in smaller schools. The proof is right here. I so often wonder how Ann Arbor, a town that claims to be full of such intelligent people, continues to make such poor decisions.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

Community classes are not smaller- unless 33-34 kids is what you consider small. The difference is the teachers- they want to be there. Skyline has dropping applicants for the lottery- down to 74? last year. Have to ask what is the problem when the staff at Skyline who couldn't wait to work there, now can't wait to go back to Pioneer or elsewhere. CHS is not for everyone- you must be disciplined. But at least my kid wants to be at school, and isn't cutting class like his acquaintances at Skyline. Apparently ditching and going to sit in your car in the parking lot is an ongoing thing. That robocall must be incorrect, as the kids tell their parents. Gotta wonder what else happens there- sure doesn't happen at CHS- kids want to be there.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

Oh, please - it happens everywhere. There are plenty of kids who ditch at CHS. Just ask the folks at Sweetwaters and the attendance officer. The difference is that they get asked to leave CHS if their attendance becomes a problem. And the class size (meaning the # of kids in a grade) of ~100 is definitely smaller and makes a huge difference in the environment. But we're still dealing with teenagers so of course, there are still problems occasionally with attendance and such. It's just on a smaller scale.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

To the lottery parents today! From the parent of a split-enrolled student who got a very high number in the lottery in 2009 and will graduate from Skyline in June. NOTE: You CAN split enroll from Skyline. My child has been split enrolled all four years and has had great experiences at CHS, taking classes of a type that you just don't get anywhere else, alongside the traditional coursework at Skyline. Don't let anybody at Skyline or elsewhere tell you it can't be done.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

The lottery results will also be available on-line, at the school website. Given the large number of students who do not draw a low number, the gathering at the back doors of the school often leads to nearly hysterical kids who are either disappointed or overjoyed. I don't think having this be a public spectacle every year is a good idea. I think they should post the results first on-line for a few hours, before posting them on the doors. We have had 2 of 3 students go through the lottery in past years, and our 3 rd one will go through it today. In each case we took care to not let them get overly worked up at this one moment; we assured them that, no matter the results, we would help them find a high school situation that would work for them. Our oldest student recieved a very high number, went on to dual-enroll in Community and Pioneer, and eventually his number came up during his last semester of high school. Our second student recieved a moderately high number, went on to enroll in Skyline, and eventually Skyline's DTEP magnet, and turned down his spot when it came up. Whatever happens with our youngest this afternoon, we will not participate in the hysterics generated by the back-door postings.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

SO can you exactly tell me why Community High School is such as wonderful place. I can understand the class size and some kids needing "personal" attention. We do have Roberto Clemente that is small and provides personal attention. Could it be something else. If Huron High is viewed as the best High school in Ann Arbor, iterms of academics, why are parents not folking there. I have seen both sides of the community high school results. There are kids who are not suited to the "feel good" school. By the way, given the comments I have read so far, I think a lot of parents are from Lake Wobegon - lol


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

Community is NOT some "feel good" school, if by that you mean a hippy-type, do your own thing and no matter what is it, it's all good. Kids at Community have to be self-directed. It isn't a school for every kid. And Community is not for kids with various problems like Roberto Clemente, which is going to be closed anyhow. Community High is actually a "community". The kids all know each other and the teachers and staff know all the kids. And, as someone else already mentioned, the kids really want to be there. Take a look at the number of National Merit Scholars who come from Community compared to class size. Take a look at where the kids go to college and the amazing thing so many Community grads are doing. It's not some easy, slide-your-way through place. And the teachers and staff really want to be there too. And it's also not some "elite" school, as so many Ann Arbor citizens have claimed throughout the years. As it clear from the article, there's a lottery, and kids come from every socioeconomic background. People who are critical of Community need to go and spend an hour or two there, talk to kids, talk to staff, then decide what you think. I had 5 kids graduate from Ann Arbor Public Schools, 1 from Pioneer, and he was so bored, so uninspired, so unchallenged, that by his senior year he was home by 11am. There just weren't enough classes left for him to take. Three graduated from Huron, which was a marginally better experience. My youngest went to Community and he was the happiest of all. It isn't that the kids at Community "need" personal attention, it's that personal attention makes for a better educational experience for any kid. Kids thrive on personal attention.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

I don't think it is a "feel good" school -- I have one CHS graduate, one senior at Skyline, and one senior split enrolled by Skyline and Community. I think the difference between the schools is that CHS has an informal, close-knit feeling where students can set up a school schedule that is much more individualized. Skyline has a more structured feeling, and more formal relationship between students and teachers, and enables students to take a large number of accelerated and AP classes. Some kids need the family feeling and the personalized schedule. Some kids are looking for the accelerated class load. Luckily, in Ann Arbor, you can have both. I don't get why anybody feels they need to choose one side or the other. We are a pluralistic society. Those who didn't get in to the school they want are entitled and able to take classes at more than one school. My kids have! You as parent can get them what they need even if they don't go full time to the school they wanted. We did, and I have to call myself a satisfied customer of the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

pooh bear

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

It really is too bad that this is still a problem 25 years after Community High started. You'd think by now that the 'system' would have found a way to accommodate ALL the students that want this kind of school. It's a real shame. But at least people aren't sleeping out in the snow!

Chester Drawers

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

I think that CHS started in 1972, which makes it going on 41 years, not 25. Time flies!!!


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

So what exactly makes this school so much better than the others? I always just thought it was an alternative high school (which in my school district was pretty much reserved for the deadbeats).


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

Interesting, thanks for the answers!


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

You may find it laughable but it's true. The larger schools don't have the staff or time to work with kids as they do at CHS. CHS staff now has less than it used to as well but the kids still come out better prepared on average.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

Community High has a block schedule, meaning students have long class sessions three days per week (MWF or T/Th/F). The course catalog is unusual and much different from what is offered at the other schools. Just a few examples: Real World Civics and Economics as a two-class unit (instead of an Economics class and a Government class at the other schools), a specially designed four-year science curriculum co-created with the University of Michigan, an intensive jazz program, a strong dance program set up like a dance company, and a wide range of English classes in place of the other schools' English 9, English 10, etc. Students are strongly encouraged to work with members of the community to add to their education through Community Resource classes. It feels more like a liberal arts college environment. The structure is way more open and free vs. the hall passes and strict control of where kids are during the way. As I said in a related post on this page, we are a pluralistic society. If this is not right for you or your kid, there are three very good comprehensive high schools in the town as well. It is my fond wish that people step back and count our blessings as a community that we have so many great choices for our kids.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

So , you are stating that the Pioneer , Sjyline, and Huron are not geared towards university - that's laughable


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

It's smaller and geared more toward prepping kids for college by teaching them to be more independent.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

In my area it was called Enterprise High where all the kids who didn't fit in regular schools went.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

All six of my children attended Community. I believe I still hold the record of having 5 graduates there! But the early ones--89,89,90 were pre-lottery admissions. The fourth was a dualie till his senior year when he gleefully announced to his teachers he'd been accepted. They were shocked--they thought he'd always been enrolled there. Ten years later when my final son entered it was as Sophomore or Junior transfer student. He decided Community was not for him and eventually graduated valedictorian from another local school. Community is the finest school I have ever encountered and I've heard all the arguments about making it bigger, moving it, replicating it. Most of them have been tried but somehow it's current location is really part of the culture of the school and in my opinion, crucial to it's success. Students who don't make it in thru the lottery are afforded a major learning experience--life will not go their way many times and the most successful adults will be the ones who know how to roll with life. Parents help your students learn these lessons now while they are easier to handle.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

i don't think cossur rigged the system, i just think it's a little pompous to tell people not getting in is a good learning experience when all of your kids got in.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

Nicely said, Cossur. For some reason though, it appears towncryer and other whiners think you just benefit from a rigged system. I love how all of these folks whine but then offer no suggestions in how to improve the other schools.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:46 p.m.

"Students who don't make it in thru the lottery are afforded a major learning experience--life will not go their way many times..." Says the person who had six kids "win" the lottery...


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

Washtenaw International High School ( ) might be attractive to some of the Community HS applicants. It offers an International Baccalaureate curriculum that is recognized by universities worldwide. It is possible that the enrollment date could be extended for interested parties. WiHi is a Washtenaw Intermediate School District consortium that offers private-school caliber education in a public-school setting. Many of the reasons for attending Community HS may also be found at WiHi, except in a more intimate, diverse setting. Interested? Take a look: Good luck to the lottery participants. May your lottery numbers be low, and your academic achievement be high!


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

I agree with a2grateful. WIHI is an outstanding school, with wonderful teachers, who care about their students. It is a public school that pulls students from all of its county schools as well as out of county. If the only reason you are not sending your child is because of the location (Ypsilanti) or transportation (none provided, car pooling is prevalent) then you are restricting your student from earning one of the best educations around. The best universities in the world, hold an IB diploma to a higher standard than a regular high school diploma. On average students at WIHI will graduate better prepared for the rest of their lives (college and beyond) than those students who attend a typical 4-year high school with standard Michigan curriculum.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

Still doing the lottery eh? I got in back in '92 on the lottery. They kept flip flopping around year after year back then...sometimes it was lottery, sometimes it was line, sometimes it was both. Anyone remember "The line?" I had friends that would go bring refreshments to people who would be camped out days in advance. The school may have changed a lot since then....but somethings will never's still COMMIE and will always be COMMIE. I miss Gena.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

I have long suspected that the CHS "lottery" is somewhat rigged. I have two kids, both of whom entered the CHS lottery and both got very high numbers and so ended up at PHS (2004 and 2008). But during the same years my kids applied I heard of families who were getting two or three kids into Community over a several year period. Statistical anomaly? I doubt it. If you have one kid at CHS and the school likes the kid and the family my feeling is that there are ways to get subsequent kids in also. I admit I have no hard evidence.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

Geesh someone has a bad attitude...and not referring to the original poster.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

again, not a sore loser, none of my kids applied, nor had any interest to. unlike others, i can show empathy for those that would like to go to Community but don't make it in.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

The lottery used to be open to the public. I sat in the Auditorium in 1998 as they read names, one by one, only to hear my name called second to last out of 212 students. Posting the results is a much more efficient system. You're left with less drawn-out disappointment for those who don't get in.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:02 p.m.

Wow - what a bunch of sore losers. Do you question the lottery commission the same way when someone wins more than once?


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

A lottery open to the public is how this is done in other places such as New York City (see the film "Waiting for Superman"). Public school funded by public money should require lottery open to those of the public who have applied for entry to the school. If this is all above board it will be no big deal.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Some charter schools pull the numbers out in front of an audience of parents who have their numbers....not impossible or impractical.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:03 p.m.

That would be fun and efficient. Not. And wouldn't change the outcome a bit... If you don't trust the system that is voted in (i.e. the School Board), vote for change.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Make the lottery open to the public. When I questioned how the lottery was done back in 2004 I was told by Deb Mexicotte that the CHS PTO president and principal conducted the lottery behind closed doors. I admit I do not know if that is still how it operates. If it is open to the public I stand corrected. If it isn't open, it should be.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

Seriously? No hard evidence? How about no evidence at all. This are exactly how lotteries work and if you've got a better way to do it, feel free to suggest it.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

@ A Voice Of Reason, re: "Enrollment is 125 even though the lottery is for 114." CHS's attention to each and every student, and the flexibility that they show when faced with special needs of any kind, has made CHS a very attractive school. And my understanding is that there is the possibility of an "Administrative Placement" bypass of the lottery, especially if the parents in question are pushy, and lawyered-up. This means that the CHS student population is starting to change a bit. I hope that it will remain the awesome place that it has always been, and not turn into something else.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

My sense is that, with the current trend of how traditional high schools are run in the district, the competition for entrance to CHS and other alternative schools (public, charter and private) will be much more fierce.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

@ A Voice Of Reason, re: "Well, if you teach there your kids get in." I have heard that, too. But the way I heard it was that the staff has agreed to waive their contract-stipulated class-size limits to accommodate those few kids. So these exceptions in no way affected the lottery. No staff kids have ever bumped any lottery kids off the list. At least that is how I heard it.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Both of my kids were lucky enough to get in. Unfortunately, not a single one of my son's friends got in, including an incredibly talented poet-writer who would have really been able to shine there. Too bad. CHS is a fabulous school.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

That is too bad, one never knows how the course of someone's life can change by little things like this.

A Voice of Reason

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Well, if you teach there your kids get in. Enrollment is 125 even though the lottery is for 114. Someone needs to explain why employees and their children (who may not even live in the district) are given more rights that kids of tax payers.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Does anyone know for certain if Voice & Chester's statements are in fact, true? If so, I think this is very wrong.

Chester Drawers

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

Another interesting thing I have noticed over the last 30 years is the large number of Board of Education trustrees who have had children enrolled at Community.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

I am the first to complain about unfairness, but I have to say, I do not begrudge this perk for teachers. I get where you're coming from, but with some of the stuff teachers put up (behavior/hands tied by administration, etc...), this is okay with me, imo.


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

Good luck to those in the lottery - it's a very emotional day. Some kids are so happy and others are heartbroken. I have 2 kids who both pulled terrible numbers in the lottery and the sadness they experienced outside the back doors of Community H.S. are etched in my memory forever.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

Guess life isn't all rosy after all. I guess some people have trouble with disappointment

Kellie Woodhouse

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Yes, good luck. There's going to be a lot of crestfallen faces today.

Fat Bill

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

The message here is that there is a growing demand for this particular style of high school...a responsive school board would seek ways to expand the opportunity.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

Yes!! And this is nothing new. It baffles me why the district has not done anything in so many years to meet this demand. Same with Ann Arbor Open.


Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

They should have made Skyline the alternative school.