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July 25, 2014

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The Turnaround:

As school year winds down, Chaparral students grade the turnaround

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Leila Navidi

Seniors Icalynn Gamble, 18, and Daquan Robinson, 17, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

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Chaparral High School, previously identified as one of Clark County School District’s five worst-performing schools, is wrapping up its first year of a "turnaround" effort to improve student achievement and campus morale. On prom night, we asked seniors how they thought the year has gone.

    • Seniors Sharice Cooper, 18, and Karl Falkenstein, 17, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Seniors Sharice Cooper, 18, and Karl Falkenstein, 17, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Karl Falkenstein, 17

      I’ve changed a lot this school year. I’ve become more career oriented. I intend to be an elementary school teacher. The turnaround process has been interesting. We have decent new teachers now, but I’m still sad to see certain teachers go. One of my favorite classes — filmmaking — had to go, as well, because of budget cuts. Right now, my plan is to go to Nevada State (College). My goal is to aim for my bachelor's in elementary education and soon get my master's, and maybe one day even go for my doctorate.

      Sharice Cooper, 18

      Before this year, my grades were a little slack-y. I was dragging my home problems into school. I was getting D’s and F’s. But it set in my head that I should move on and concentrate on education and go to college. I now have straight A’s for the quarter. Because of the turnaround project, kids care more about school. Though some students were upset over the changes — we had a protest — and even though we were a little skeptical, change is sometimes good. After graduation, I’m going to San Bernardino, Calif., to go to college at an arts institute.

    • Senior Damian Wright and his girlfriend, Ellie Dow, from Michigan, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Senior Damian Wright and his girlfriend, Ellie Dow, from Michigan, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Damian Wright, 17

      I moved here last August from Michigan, and I’ve changed a lot. I was really shy and quiet at the beginning of the year. I wasn’t used to a school that was so large. My last school had 800 people. Chaparral has 2,500 students. The racial breakdown is different, too. Listening to everyone else, it seems like the turnaround was needed. All the fights that I heard of, all the things that went wrong, it seems the turnaround needed to happen. I’m kind of glad it did because I feel safer. I’m applying to UNLV to major in engineering, minor in music. I want to become a fighter pilot for the U.S. Air Force and afterwards, fly commercial or private planes for the rest of my life.

    • Senior Sydney Angi, right, 17, with her date, Christian Chambers, 20, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Senior Sydney Angi, right, 17, with her date, Christian Chambers, 20, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Sydney Angi, 17

      I’ve definitely changed throughout the year. I went to a different school and transferred from Desert Pines my senior year. I learned a lot, met a lot of new people, became a lot calmer. I’m a lot happier now. From what I hear from all my friends, Chaparral’s gotten a lot better. I know back in the day, it wasn’t a very good school. It was pretty bad. But from what I’ve seen, it seems perfectly fine to me. I’m going to go to UNLV as a music major. I play percussion, and eventually, my big goal is to play in the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

    • Chaparral senior Sean Sheck, 18, with Silverado HIgh School sophomore Madyson Barnes, 16, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Chaparral senior Sean Sheck, 18, with Silverado HIgh School sophomore Madyson Barnes, 16, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Sean Sheck, 18

      I’m excited to have the future ahead and high school over. The school’s definitely changed. They’re a lot more strict this year than the last three years. It’s more serious in class. Everyone’s more serious about schoolwork and our school. People now get the right image of Chaparral when they hear of our school. It’s a good turnaround. In the future, I definitely want to be an FBI detective and have a nice family with a couple of kids.

    • Seniors Marissa Phanphouvong, 17, and Christian Mangubat, 18, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Seniors Marissa Phanphouvong, 17, and Christian Mangubat, 18, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Christian Mangubat, 18

      I think I’ve become more mature and act more like an adult. I think Chaparral’s changed because of our principal. I think it’s a good thing for the freshmen coming in. In the future, I just want to be making video games and drawing, but I want to go to college first.

      Marissa Phaphouvong, 17

      Prom is the last thing the school is going to do as a group. It’s a going away for seniors. I’ve changed a lot. I don’t act so childish anymore. This year, I transferred to Chaparral from Desert Pines. The schedule here is a little bit weird, but it’s fine. I want to become a sonographer, working with ultrasound machines.

    • Seniors Jessica Page, 18, and Nicole Steinmann, 18, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Seniors Jessica Page, 18, and Nicole Steinmann, 18, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Nicole Steinmann, 18

      I was a big slack my other years, but this year, school is buckling down on me and showing me do this right because it’s my last year. Going to Chaparral the first three years, I had more fun. This year they were really strict with rules, which is stressful on the students. I kind of miss the old Chap, but I know they’re trying to do their best to make it a better Chap. I appreciate what they’re doing. We’re a better school. I want to be an English or a Japanese teacher. I want to be able to pass my knowledge on to others and write a book in my spare time.

      Jessica Page, 18

      Before the turnaround, I acted out, messed around and thought more about fun than about schoolwork. But now I’m doing more of my schoolwork, I’ve signed up for harder classes, and now I’m going to graduate, go to college and go out into the real world. I think Chaparral’s changed a lot. Before it was more about having the experience of high school; now it’s about passing those proficiencies, getting through classes and going to college. I want to become a corporate attorney, take care of my family and travel the world.

    • Seniors Samual Cooper, 18, and Celeste Mirjanian, 17, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Seniors Samual Cooper, 18, and Celeste Mirjanian, 17, at Chaparral High School prom in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 5, 2012.

      Samuel Cooper, 18

      The turnaround has been interesting because it’s been focused on kids at risk of not graduating. So if you’re a kid on track to graduate, there’s not a huge spotlight on you. But it’s been good for students who are doing well, too. It’s the first time in my four years I’ve actually seen kids running to class, full speed, pedal to the metal. They must have done something because students are scared to be late to class now, which is really good. I’m proud to be a part of what Chaparral is doing. We’re starting to reflect that inner sense of pride. I’ve been accepted into the pre-nursing program at UNR, so I’m really excited. My dream job is to work at Disneyland on the medical staff. You can’t go wrong if you work at the happiest place on earth.

      Celeste Mirjanian, 17

      I’ve become more of a people person this year. I made a lot of friends, and it’s been absolutely wonderful. From what I heard, Chaparral used to be an awful school, but now it seems to me like a good school. I love my teachers; they’re interesting and fabulous. I’m not quite sure what I want to be, what I want to do, but I’m fond of writing. I’m going to be an English major at UNLV next year.

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    1. Nice! Great to hear some success stories.

    2. Good luck to all.

    3. One of her "favorite classes -- filmmaking -- had to go". Why were we wasting money teaching classes like this, photography, drum roll, etc. when we need to be focusing on core subjects like math, English and science in a school district that is crying "poor"?

    4. Education..the first step toward success. It's not always about making more money to define success. If you are happy in what you do after college, you are a success.

      Stay in school. Learn. Graduate. Go to college or trade school.
      You'll leave the high school dropouts in the dust.

    5. Congratulations to the Class of 2012! May your hard work and determination carry you through the years ahead, finding realized dreams, prosperity, and happiness! You earned that High School Diploma!

      Blessings and Peace,
      Star Mistriel, Teacher