Principal Jill Shenberger and her staff visit all the area high schools, send out thousands of fliers and get publicity in the local media, but enrollment at Academy of the Canyons is still down. “It’s getting harder to recruit students. High schools want their kids on their campuses. It’s a battle,” Shenberger told trustees of College of the Canyons and board members of the William S. Hart Union High School District at a joint meeting this week. Located on the campus of COC, the unique Academy of the Canyons is about to graduate more than half its student population so, as happens every year, it finds itself with a recruitment problem. Enrollment at the two-year academy, which only accepts 11th- and 12th-graders, is 196; but 111 seniors will soon graduate. When the school was established, its original grant called for a maximum of 300, said Shenberger. Students are encouraged to do whatever they have to do — such as take double classes — to get accepted into College of the Canyons or other colleges so they can graduate from the academy early. Yet it leaves officials having to find that many replacements who are willing to leave their high schools, their friends and their teachers to come to the academy where they can take high school and college courses in a handful of portable buildings. “We have 27 applications right now. It’s getting tougher,” Shenberger said. She told the two school boards she needs more people to help her get the word out, and the school needs to be received better. “It’s leg work and paper work. We don’t have enough help,” Shenberger said. The school does an extensive interview with potential enrollees. Officials look at a student’s motivation as closely as their grades. Students with 2.0 grade point averages are welcome. But expectations that they will improve are high, and the majority raise their standing considerably, Shenberger said. Of the students on campus now, 29 percent have earned a 4.0 grade point average or better, she added.
This story can be found in Sunday's Signal Newspaper .