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Posted on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:14 a.m.

Community High School lottery: Only 1 in 4 makes the cut

By Cindy Heflin

A record 440 students entered the lottery for admission to Ann Arbor’s popular Community High School, but only 122 were granted admission, the Ann Arbor Journal reported.

The alternative school, affectionately known as Commie High, caters to students who want more freedom in their educational experience than a traditional school usually offers. Students are selected by lottery. The school has 114 seats available but accepted 122 in the belief that not all will actually enroll, the newspaper reported.

The video bellow captures reaction from a lottery winner and from a parent whose child will be on the waiting list.



Wed, Feb 22, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

when u only accept 1 of 4 75% are going to be unhappy to one degree or another. maybe Huron should be turned into a Community High School.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

How many of those 440 also signed up also for the Skyline lottery? Why do we get this Community High School press each year? Shouldn't there be equal press releases for Skyline?

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

As a parent of a kid at AAO I can tell you these schools happen because parents make them happen. If anyone wants another AAO or Community II ... get off your duff, find an ally in the school system and get going.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

I think it is a shame that in a community where there obviously is such a demand for this type of school, there is also such a lack of support for it. I would like to suggest to the Ypsilanti School Board that there might be a similar demand in Ypsilanti and if such an alternative school were set up, it looks like there are hundreds of students in Ann Arbor who might be willing to come into the Ypsilanti district under that School of Choice program.

Dog Guy

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

Luck of the draw, kid, try one of the charter schools.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

This program works because parents are vested and go through the process to get their kids into Community. If all of our parents were like this, all of our schools would be doing fine and we would have no need for a school like Community. I am wondering this though, if we cut off all extra curricular activities for these students, would they still want to go? In other words, if you go to Community you get no access to sports or drama at the other high schools in the district. My feeling has always been that it is about location and the ability of kids to leave campus as they see fit. What if that was cut off as well, due to safety concerns. Would families still want to go? Many probably would, but I'm not sure the numbers would be as high.


Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

As a Community student, my answer would be that it's not only Community students who get the benefit of the shuttle buses and the option to participate in programs across the district. Currently, the drama programs across the district are open to all students, so any AAPS student can be in a production at any school, depending on what the student is looking for. For example, students from Skyline, Huron, and Community often participate in Pioneer's Future Stars shows, since the other schools don't have anything similar. Another example is that students who don't attend Community have gotten roles in Community Ensemble Theatre productions. Students who go to other schools can also take classes at Community, which many do, although it can be slightly harder to work out the registration when your home school isn't Community. It's hard to make the argument that Community students should just do extracurriculars at Community, because Community doesn't offer a single varsity sports team. The only teams are Ultimate Frisbee and a co-ed indoor soccer team, and, people can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think those are even officially endorsed by the school. So, you have a point that the connection to other schools definitely opens Community to more students than it would otherwise. I play a sport for Huron, and I'm friends with a lot of athletes who may not have chosen the school if they couldn't continue to play sports at other schools. Also, I've really enjoyed taking accelerated math classes and a few AP classes at Huron, and I don't know if I would have chosen Community if I did not have the option to do so. So, I goes that there is a bit of a "best of both worlds" mentality when it comes to split-enrolling and doing sports. However, split-enrolling is a pain to work out due to scheduling conflicts and busing times. My schedule is such that I ride a bus to Huron and another bus back in the middle of the day. So, i's a doable process, but not the easiest.

say it plain

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 4:18 a.m.

great points and well stated @local... and you know what I've noticed? Nobody advocating for Community ever ever ever has an answer to that question! So, yes, to @Woman in Ypsilanti, I guess I do see it as partly a problem of 'excess demand' rather than 'insufficient supply'/ That is, I do think there is greater demand for programs like CHS than there is supply, but I suspect that if CHS was not allowed to also make use of all other resources in AAPS, then demand would be cut by at least 25%. And I also suspect that some of the demand for CHS is due to its being smaller, and to the kids getting much more individual attention as a result. Some of that is probably due to program elements in place that can also be used to good effect I'd think in the large high schools--like the 'forums' could be translated (or could they?! That might be the big 'within the building' perk that CHS students get that the other kids are missing and the cost structure is interesting to contemplate in that respect) to work at other schools. That we actually pay for the transport of CHS students to the other schools, when there are kids who would happily go to CHS *and take no classes at the other schools* but they weren't "lucky" enough to get in, is sort of appalling imo. Here's a great example of AAPS *not* meeting the educational needs and goals of their students anywhere near as well as they could be doing.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

Women in ypsilanti, I was just trying to ask, if those options weren't available, would families still want their kids at Community? The district spends money to get these students from Community to the other high school for drama and after school events, could we save money here? Secondly, if Community is your high school, then you should participate in extra curricular activities offered at your high school. It is like having the best of both worlds, which seems a little unfair. Example, my kid plays a sport at Huron, but that sport is better at Pioneer, should I be able to move to that school just for the after school activity? No, because I would expect my kid to compete/participate at the high school they go to throughout the day. Just wondering if people would continue to line up for Community if those added bonuses weren't allowed?

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

The location is no doubt one of the advantages. It is also nice to allow kids at the small school to have access to some of the extracurricular activities at the other schools. Why would you want to change that? Do you see this as a problem of excess demand rather than insufficient supply?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

My son was at Huron and had Community friends busing over for drama and sports.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

"Only 1 in 4 makes the cut" I would say 3 of 4 won and just don't know it yet.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:30 a.m.

Why would you say that?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Sounds like a nice way to tell disadvantage students (Minorities) that "Rich White Kids" and their parents can still be Progressive/Liberal and stand up for Minorities while sending their kids to a "SPECIAL SCHOOL" where they cannot go! Very Nice Racism!

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

I am confused. How is Community High School racist? They don't tell minorities that they can't go there.

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

XMO: Anyone in the Ann Arbor school district can apply to Community. It is a free public school.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

So why wasn't the "alternative" school moved to larger digs at say Skyline? Could have saved a bundle on the construction of the athletic fields and who knows what else.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 3:28 a.m.

I'm an Ann Arbor Open and Skyline parent. My student lotteried in to Skyline. Skyline has taken steps in the right direction. Students are placed in "Smaller Learning Communities" within the school (each about the size of Commie and containing all 4 grades), cross-grade interaction is encouraged, and it seems to me -from comparison with friends at other schools- that there is less emphasis on make-work big-box-style homework and more on peer tutoring and co-operative learning. But not enough. And it may just be my kid got lucky with their teachers. And they claim(ed?) to be interested in student input as the school develops it's charactaer, but I mostly see the principal interested in developing the school in her image....... Not sure why arboriginal thinks $$ would be save on athletic fields? Commie kids play sports too.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 1:50 a.m.

It would not be the same if it were in a larger place. Community works well because of it's size.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

Yeah, I know. Where would precious get their latte!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

Administrators and educational leaders, take notice: this is the kind of education parents in Ann Arbor want - that is, more rigor based on relationships between people, not fancy gadgets and high-tech hoo-ha. It does not cost more to educate a kid at CHS and the classes are brimming with 33+ students. This model simply works better to educate kids than the out dated big box factory America is used to. It can be replicated elsewhere around the district. Let the alternative become the new normal!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

justwondering, I agree. However, even these schools are being pressed harder and harder into an increasingly more conventional program, as the district requires more and more testing. Right now, in elementary school, my kids are subjected to FIVE distinct and separate tests within the first TWO MONTHS of school. The newest NWEA test is given three times a year. Doesn't leave a whole lot of time for creative, project-based learning, when a three-times-a-year test forces a protocol-like curriculum. Oh, we can't continue on our in-depth look at the economic crash in Greece.... we have to go over iambic pentameter! It's on the test! Basically, I totally agree that other schools in the AAPS could and should learn some of what makes AAO and Communtiy so successful. But I don't see the district moving in that direction. Quite the opposite, actually.


Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

The NWEA Map test gives teachers a good look at what students may be having difficulty in reading and math. The MEAP test only gives teachers a score and it comes out 4 months later. NWEA MAP allowed the teachers to look at a math score and see if there was an area in math the student struggled with on the test. Don't worry about iambic pentameter yet, this only shows that your student was doing well on the test. This is another advantage of NWEA over MEAP. The NWEA adjusts to how the student is doing (if they get the answers correct, they get more difficult questions; if the get the answers incorrect, they get easier questions) so all the students are taking 'different' tests and each student is being challenged.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

Chris, my kids are there too. This is the first year of the test. Give it time. All these things add up to impair AAO's ability to be truly progressive. Don't get me wrong, I love our school. I am also committed to making sure it remains what it intends to be, against more and more pressure in the opposite direction. If nobody pushes back, it will morph into conventionality, as there is so much pressure to conform. Ask some of the old parents what the school was like 10 or 15 years ago.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

A2anon, you're wrong about the NWEA making an impact on classroom instruction at Open. I have two children there. Yes, the students are taking these tests, but there's no "prep" for these tests like everyone sees ahead of the MEAP.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

Yes, that's my point. Re-read my post. My point is that the district is moving in a direction opposite that represented by these schools ie progressive education. Thus, it is doubtful that the district will take progressive best practices into other schools, when it keeps mandating stricter curricular protocols and more and more testing. AAO is being squeezed, and has to fight and push hard to maintain its philosophical integrity.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:50 p.m.

The kids at Ann Arbor Open take the exact same tests. Just FYI.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

I said it before and I'll say it again. Community High and Ann Arbor Open - demand way exceeds supply. People want to get into these Ann Arbor public schools. I'm sure there's a way to learn the best practices of these schools, or what makes them so attractive, to expand the enrollment. I hope the administration is at least looking at these two great schools. I also have to say this before someone posts any incorrects "facts" -- the student to teacher ratio is the same at these schools as elsewhere within the district.