Odyssey School should remain open

OP-Ed by De Mehaffy

Odyssey High School should remain open! Most parents in
the Highline School District may say... I've never heard of
Odyssey High School. Where is it? Why is it important to
keep Odyssey open? Looking at the notice in the Westside
News, it looks like a straight forward financial decision
due to a low enrollment and that it makes sense to close
Odyssey, but I THOROUGHLY disagree. Odyssey is
changing lives.

There was a public hearing on the potential closure of
Odyssey High School on October 23rd. The board room at
ERAC was overflowing with Parents, Students, Community
Members and Staff from Odyssey High School. A large
banner went across the back of the room and T-shirts
were abound in efforts to "Save Odyssey High School". All
60 minutes were filled with testimonies from parents,
students and staff on reasons to keep Odyssey open and
more would have testified if time allowed.

What does Odyssey offer?

A safe environment. Students and Parents testified how
the school was "Bully Free". Students had gone to other
High Schools and Middle Schools in the Highline School
District and the only school that they felt safe was
Odyssey High School. Not only was there zero tolerance,
there was actually zero bullying. All student knews it
would not be tolerated and not only appreciated the
safety of the school but found the safety in the school
critical to their success. They felt the school was like
a family and they were safe. They could focus on
learning.
A consistent teaching method that truely "Leaves no
student left behind". All students are required to
participate and can not hide at the back of the classroom
pretending to do work. The students do LEARN at
Odyssey High School and respect the teachers for
noticing, addressing and working on resolving the issues
for each student so they can learn. The students felt like
they mattered and made a difference. One student
commented, it was the only school where she had
respected the teachers for what they did.

Graduation. The students are focused on graduation and
college. They felt safe, supported in learning, confident
and wanted to graduate and do the work. They wanted to
succeed.

Odyssey has been a Choice school for only 2 years and
has focused on establishing the teaching curriculum not
marketing itself to the community. The parents that have
FOUND Odyssey are dedicated to continuing the growth
of Odyssey. The enrollment is down, but I believe this is
because parents and students in Middle Schools or other
High Schools aren't aware of Odyssey High School and
what it offers. Highline has multiple options and every
student is different and has different needs. There are
over 18,000 students in the Highline School District....
and they will have different paths. There is a need for
Aviation High School, Highline High School, Mt Rainier
High School, Big Picture High School and all the options
that are in the school district INCLUDING Odyssey High
School. I believe it is important that parents know ALL
options and make the decision with their student on
which school is best for their success with the commitment to graduate. If one doesn't work, there are
other options available other they dropping out of school
or not getting their best grades.

Parents testified at other schools, they were only notified
their student was failing the school year at the end of the
year when it was too late to do anything. At Odyssey, if
there was a problem, the parents were notified that day. It
wasn't just a letter through the mail, call at the end of the
year.... but an actual conversation and strategy for what
to do so the student didn't get an "F" or have behavior
issues.

There were students at Odyssey that were excelling in
their school work and found the support and guidance of
being in a small high school the environment where they
best succeeded. They could ask questions and enjoyed
the interaction a small environment offered. Several
students were doing running start and looking forward to
college.

Do I believe 200 students and families would benefit from
Odyssey?... I do. Do I believe it will allow 200 more
students to graduate? I do. Do I believe the Stats for
Odyssey High School will improve dramatically with the
new curriculum? I do. Do I believe it makes a difference to
the community? I do. Do I believe the enrollment can go
from 80 students to 200 students in a year so there isn't
a financial reason to close Odyssey? I do.

Is the school open to enrollment currently so we can show
the Board? NO. 10 families already did try to join Odyssey
and were told the enrollment was closed.
Does this type of school sound like something that would
benefit students? The community. Do you want to hear
first hand testimonies and learn about Odyssey High
School... please join the next Public Hearing at Odyssey
High School Dec 11th!

Please consider an article or posting this letter to the
community in response to the Public Hearing on Odyssey
High School.

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