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Charter school opens in DTLA for students at risk of dropping out

By Hayley Fox
Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2012, at 10:51AM
Hybrid High School Dietmar Quistorf

The first class of ninth graders at the new DTLA charter school.

A new charter school opened in downtown L.A. on Tuesday for its inaugural year of seven-day-a-week schooling, aimed at students who are deemed to be at-risk of dropping out.

USC Hybrid High School on Figueroa revolves around flexible, year-round scheduling in an effort to accommodate students who have other responsibilities; such as working a job or taking care of family members. According to USC, over one million students drop out of high school each year -- 32 percent of these teens do so because the typical school schedule doesn't work with their other obligations.

With Hybrid High's extended hours, students have greater freedom to pick-and-choose when and how they complete their classwork.

“The notions of the square box classroom and school don’t necessarily work for everyone; it’s an artifact,” Melora A. Sundt, associate dean for academic programs and professor of clinical education at the USC Rossier School, told OnCentral when Hybrid High was announced last year.

The campus is 19,000-square-feet and includes a courtyard, large "learning labs" and smaller "huddle rooms" for groups of students to gather.

The curriculum will include online learning, classroom instruction and personal meetings with advisers to chart progress and plan individual academic schedules. According to Hybrid High's website, the school's central goals are to achieve a zero-percent dropout rate and a 100-percent graduation rate.

Scheduling includes regular weekday instruction and "supplemental" days on the weekends. Each student will be able to check out a laptop to use at school each day, and will receive an iPod Touch they are able to take home, and that can be used to check email, download assignments and serve as their ID card for cafeteria meals.

CBS reports that about 100 ninth-graders are currently enrolled in classes, but school officials are hoping to grow that number to 150 in the school's first year. Officials say each year a new freshman class will be added, and eventually the entire student body will total almost 650 students.

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