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John F. Kennedy High School is a secondary school located in Richmond, California, as part of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. The school's mascot is the Bald Eagle, the school's athletic teams are known as the "Eagles," and the school colors are red and white. The current principal as of 2010 is Ms. Roxane Brown Garcia. There are approximately 1,047 students attending the school.
John F. Kennedy High School will strive to create an environment in which students feel valued, develop their unique abilities, achieve academic excellence, explore personal, academic and career paths, and acquire skills that will help them achieve success and personal fulfillment.
John F. Kennedy High Schools develops education from the premise that:
John F. Kennedy High School was designed to be a comprehensive school, including programs that continually assess the needs of community and engage students accordingly. The location, lighting, furniture, team-teaching design, absence of distraction (windows, noisy halls, etc.), modular flexible scheduling, and a diverse faculty were staples to the campus. JFK’s architecture reflected both the openness and security demanded in the era of free speech and burning cities. In 1967 and 1968, the greater Richmond community passed bonds specifically for a high school to be named after the assassination of the much admired and inspirational president, John F. Kennedy.
Built on the site of Granada Junior High, Kennedy adopted the red and white colors and Eagle mascot from Harry Ells High School, slated for closure once JFK was ready. Kennedy first opened its doors in September 1967; the school quickly gained acclaim for its state-of-the-art academic and vocational programs. Kennedy became the “flagship” of the District and was renowned for its athletics, forensics team, and diverse student body. The school in the past, has used “computerized modular flexible scheduling,” very similar to today’s college scheduling; the staff had been trained to utilize this system for the most efficient and customized program for each student. Classes meet in different configurations (small seminars, medium classes, and large lectures) and are team-taught. Through the Richmond Voluntary Integration Plan (VIP) many students were bused for free—two yellow busloads a day from the Kensington, El Cerrito, and Richmond hills. Many young students even carpooled from Point Richmond. The school became so popular that the District had to impose boundary limits that disallowed the families who live in Richmond and within walking distance, to go to JFK. Eventually the appeal of flexible scheduling waned and it was discontinued after the 1981-1982 school year. A recent response to NCLB and the lack of funding for high school electives has brought a renewed interest of flexible scheduling.
After Proposition 13, the free busing was eliminated and the students from the “ Richmond View” stopped attending Kennedy. Many of the faculty chose to go elsewhere due to lack of program funding and a lot of the successful programs were eliminated. (Pre-tech, Aerospace, Bio-Medical, Electronics, etc.) In the late 1980s and early 1990s violence and murders in the city, along with an inconsistent economy, high unemployment, perceived mismanagement of the District’s “System for Choice,” the bankruptcy of the District, and continual inaccurate publicity regarding a safety survey for Kennedy (SARC report, 1980–1999) all did severe damage to the city and school’s reputation. The Richmond School District attempted to improve its image and changed its name to the West Contra Costa Unified School District (cite needed). Many families chose to transfer their students to other districts or schools, and Kennedy continued to shrink, at one time housing less than 800 students. Again there were losses of key programs such as FEAST and MESA. Private schools and Charter Schools began opening and in 1997 the first rumors circulated about the closing of Kennedy. Although most of the students received a quality education and most of the faculty was excellent, competent professionals, the school was widely perceived as a dangerous and uninviting dropout factory. Some said, “JFK” stood for “Jail For Kids.” (These perceptions survive today although all statistics indicate a reality quite the opposite.) There were many ups and downs throughout the rest of the 90’s, but the school hit its nadir around the school year 2000-2001.
By then Kennedy had become a reflection of a new Richmond, still with many systemic problems, but very much influenced by an influx of immigrant students who brought to Kennedy a seriousness for education, a desire to succeed, and unprejudiced ideas about the school. With an energetic and dedicated administration and faculty and the implementation of small learning communities and academies, Kennedy started achieving stability and success. Since 2005, there has been very little faculty turnover and the students have shown great progress, as documented by improvements in test scores, attendance, safety, suspension rate, incident reports, requests for transfers, size of senior class, number attending college, etc. Much of this improvement is credited to Mr. Julio Franco who served longer than any Kennedy principal, from 2001-2008.
As of 2008, Kennedy, with 931 students, has the most students of any high school in its district. An additional 87 students on campus attend the Kappa Continuation School. This is an increase of 100 students from the prior year. While Kennedy is still considered undersubscribed, enrollment is closed and there is a waiting list to get in, but teachers need to be hired in order to serve the students on the waiting list.
Kennedy's "growth" API score for 2008 was 580 out of 1000 possible points, a 6% gain over the school's 2007 score. This score is slightly below the median score of 586 achieved by “Similar Schools”, but far below the overall average score for California high schools.
JFK has consistently met the growth targets for all significant subgroups except “Students with Disabilities,” due to funding of such programs district-wide. African-American students improved by 40 points; Latinos, 35 points; Socio-economically Disadvantaged, 37 points: English Learners, 35 points; Students with Disabilities, 13 points. Kennedy has the largest number of special education students in the District (and still growing); JFK test scores continue to climb. Also of note, JFK teachers are the only ones in the District who volunteer an extra period daily and the results of this service shows a difference.
Kennedy's African-American students outscored their peers at Richmond High School (Richmond, California) and ECHS in 10 of the 14 comparable CST Tests. Latino students at KHS outscored their peers at RHS and ECHS in 8 out of the 18 comparable CST tests. Socio-economically disadvantaged students at KHS outscored their peers at RHS and ECHS in 10 out of the 16 comparable CST tests.
Recently, WCCUSD completed a paint job to the exterior campus. Also, community members led a successful campaign seeking the City to support its local schools. Raising $3million staving off Richmond school consolidation for 2 years, while more stable funding is developed.
In 2007 JFK@40+ was developed; a community group of alumni, parents, former staff, school neighbors, and concerned Richmonders came together to celebrate the school’s 40th birthday and to offer support for the present students and teachers. The role of JFK@40+ has been important in the recent renaissance of Richmond and John F. Kennedy High School.
In 2008, the Eagle Foundation was created by alumni, parents, former staff, school neighbors, and concerned Richmonders as a nonprofit organization to support the Richmond community by strengthening John F. Kennedy High School. It acquired its 501c3 status from the State of California in December 2008.
Eastshore State Park • Brooks Island • Kennedy Grove • Miller/Knox • Point Isabel • Point Pinole • Point Molate Beach Park • Potrero Ridge • Red Rock Cove • Rosie the Riveter / World War II Home Front National Historical Park • San Pablo Peninsula
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