School Pride Shines in Sandwich
A well-spent $50k to market school choice
By Walter Brooks, staff members
We began this story as a news article, but it has probably morphed into a quasi-editorial as well.
We will begin with strong praise of Sandwich School Committee member Robert P. Catalini for having the vision to advocate branding Sandwich High School as a school choice destination. If the school board supports his marketing initiative this may well become the best $50,000 Sandwich ever invests in its schools.
Sandwich High as a “Destination School”
As the Cape’s population declines, competition is heating up among the public school districts. Some districts, like Sandwich, realize this while others slumber and hope for better times.
Sandwich High School has a lot to offer. It boasts the highest percentage of students proficient or advanced on the both MCAS Grade 10 English Language Arts and Grade 10 Math. See the charts below.
The school ranks in Newsweek’s top 500 high schools in America. With approximately 1,000 students currently enrolled, Sandwich High School is large enough to diverse course offerings yet its academic achievement appears unencumbered by the school’s size.
For those concerned by the demographics (see chart below) of where their kids currently attend high school, Sandwich High has a 97.4% Caucasian population and only .4% of the students for who English might not be their primary language. Only 10.4% of students at SHS fall into the Low Income demographic versus 34.2% state-wide and a far cry from other towns in their vicinity. 14.5% of Sandwich High School students are in a special education program versus 17.0% state-wide.
Sandwich High offers an atmosphere of excellence to its school choice “customers”. Like Nauset Regional High School at the other end of the Cape, SHS has the critical mass to offer a rich, large-school experience while offering the small-town caring that ensures each child is treated as an individual.
The Teachers Did Their Jobs
The past two years have been tumultuous ones for the Sandwich Public Schools. With seemingly endless drama surrounding multiple administrators plus disharmony among the school committee, we cringed every time the next news story about their schools began to hatch.
While one ugly story after another played out in the media, something remarkable was happening in the Sandwich school district. Quietly, without fanfare, the teachers were doing their jobs! They went to school every day and connected with their students. While their administration imploded, the teachers and building principals motivated their students to excellence.
Last year Sandwich lost the equivalent of 42.3 students to school choice in other districts while they attracted 24 students. If the proposed marketing program brings in ten new school choice students at $5,000 each, that makes back the $50k investment and they go right-side-up from that number forward.
Dust or a $5k check?
Dr. Carolyn Cragin, transitional superintendent at Monomoy Regional School District said it best. “If there are five empty desks in a classroom, what do you want to see on those desks? Do you want to see dust or a $5,000 check?”
Kudos to Sandwich for embracing the new reality of competition between school districts on the Cape. Sandwich High School has an excellent “product” to sell. We believe their proposed marketing program will benefit their school district for years into the future.
MCAS Comparison of Mid and Upper Cape High Schools
Source - Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Spring 2011 Scores)
Grade 10 English Language Arts - Percentage of School
Grade 10 Mathematics - Percentage of School
Demographic Comparison of Mid and Upper Cape High Schools
Source - Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Ethnicity % of school
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Isle
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