LA school for at-risk kids gets rave reviews

Technology keeps at risk kids in school and motivated, but it takes big bucks for state of the art school.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

Boyle Heights Technology Academy, an alternative high school near downtown Los Angeles, has trouble keeping their students away from school now that it has a new building and state-of-the art resources. The Los Angeles Times reports that the new school and its at-risk students are a good match.

These are the teens "no one really wants to deal with," said Jimmy Valenzuela, director of the youth center, which houses the school. "People label them high risk, at risk, bad kids, gang kids, probation kids. But we don't. We look at them as youth."

In partnership with the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center, Boyle Height Technology Academy has a $10.9-million building which houses computer classrooms. Twenty-five students who were at risk of dropping out are busily typing away on bright new Apple computers.

Many credit the new mayor of L.A., Antonio Villaraigosa, with securing $7 million for the youth center. The center is being touted as a model for educating troubled teens by blending education with technology.

The mayor "sees this as a school of best practices," said Ramon C. Cortines, Villaraigosa's top education advisor.

Along with lessons delivered via PowerPoint, lectures are upload to the Web so students can replay them, and every student has a computer. There is also state-of-the-art recording studio where students can mix music or sketch pictures with animation software. The school offers a plethora of after-school programs, including Web design and yoga.

Boyle Heights Academy has only been opened for three months but is already being hailed as a success.

"It's truly a place for kids to have all-day learning," said Gloria Mamokhin, the school's interim principal, "from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed."
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