Otay Ranch High School (ORH), home of the Mustangs, was built in 2003 and is one of Sweetwater Union High School District’s newest high schools. It is located on a beautiful fifty-five acre campus, surrounded by residential homes, condominiums, apartments and new construction in the master-planned community of Otay Ranch. This suburban, middle class community is pedestrian-friendly with swim club facilities, abundant parks, trails, shopping centers and an outdoor mall.
Otay Ranch is one of four No Child Left Behind “Choice” schools in the Sweetwater District. As a result, ORH draws its student population from several surrounding communities of Chula Vista with a variety of demographics and socioeconomic backgrounds. ORH has a current enrollment of 2586 students in grades nine through twelve. The largest ethnic group is Hispanic or Latino (61%), followed by Filipino (20%), and White (7%). Less than 10% of our students are African American, Asian or Pacific Islander. In addition, 10% of our students are English Learners and 12% are Students with Disabilities. Rancho Del Rey Middle School is the primary feeder school. ORH also receives students from Castle Park Middle School, which is a Title I school. Although ORH is not a Title I school, 31% of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. This figure has increased in the last two years.
Parent participation in student learning is a priority at ORH. The school offers multiple opportunities for parents to engage and actively participate in their child’s success. The Parent Teacher and Student Organization (PTSO) meets monthly to plan activities, fundraise and promote awareness of school events. The English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC) is available for the parents of English Learners in order to receive information and provide feedback on the educational needs of their students. The ELAC parent group meeting dates are posted on the school website and all parents of ORHS students are invited to attend. Parents also serve on School Site Council (SSC) and on district advisory committees with the purpose of discussing school programs, events, interventions and providing input on the Single Plan for Student Achievement. In addition, there are parent boosters that support the various sports programs including football, basketball, and volleyball. There is also a parent volunteer application on the ORHS website.
ORH is a modified year-round school with classes beginning in mid-July and ending in early June. Students attend a full schedule of classes every Monday. Students have a minimum day on these days. Classes on Tuesday through Friday follow a rotating block schedule with three classes per day. There is also an Extended Learning Period (ELP) scheduled Tuesday through Friday for 45 minutes during which teachers provide additional instruction and interventions. KORTV video production classes also broadcast the daily bulletin at this time.
The daily schedule allows our faculty to meet in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) on a regular basis. When students are dismissed early on Mondays, teachers collaborate in PLCs for one hour every week. The purpose of PLC meetings during Pro-Hour is for teachers to share best instructional practices, develop Common Formative Assessments, analyze student data, and provide and monitor student interventions. One PLC each month is dedicated to a department meeting and another monthly PLC is used for administration. The purpose of the Admin PLC is to analyze school-wide data related to student performance, provide professional development, and facilitate the WASC focus group self-study.
Beginning in 2014, Otay Ranch High School began to offer Career Pathways to help students achieve college and career readiness. A Career Pathway is a sequence of courses designed to help students explore and prepare for a specific career area. Students can choose from the following Career Pathway options: Architectural Design; Design, Visual, and Media Arts; Health Science and Medical Technology; Performing Arts; Public Safety. A career and academic sequence is recommended for all students regardless of post-secondary intentions. These sequences include progressive exposure to the workforce world. Students that successfully complete six semesters of courses within the Career Pathway are guaranteed a graduation distinction.
Of special note at Otay Ranch is the Academy of Criminology and Justice Program (AOCJ). It is a four-year program in partnership with the Chula Vista Police Department. There are 220 students in the ninth through twelfth grades that explore careers in the justice system through a rigorous University of California/California State University A-G curriculum. The program emphasizes high moral and ethical standards, while utilizing a variety of community resources, such as field trips, professional speakers, experts in the field, and technology. The AOCJ coordinators have established strong community bonds with an advisory board comprised of community experts to support the program. Upon successful completion of the AOCJ course of study, students will receive a special seal on their high school diplomas.
Otay Ranch High School also offers a Dual Language (DL) program based on a 50/50 and 70/30 model of instruction in which 98 students are enrolled in core classes taught entirely in Spanish. In the 9th grade, students are enrolled in Biology DL, Geography DL and AP Spanish Language. In the 10th grade, students take World History DL in Spanish and AP Spanish Literature. Students are expected to read, write and speak entirely in Spanish while in Dual Language courses. Successful completion of the Dual Language program will result in receiving the State of California Seal of Biliteracy upon graduation.
All students who are interested in taking accelerated and Advanced Placement (AP) courses are encouraged to enroll. Due to this open door philosophy, a greater number of students are exposed to college-level curricula. ORH has one of the highest numbers of students enrolled in AP courses in the district. This year ORH offers Advanced Placement courses in 13 different subjects with a total of 40 sections. These sections are taught by College Board certified teachers in each subject area.
Participation in extra-curricular activities is encouraged at Otay Ranch. According to a recent student survey, 68% of the students at ORH participate in extra-curricular activities. The athletic program is comprised of 43 teams. We are proud that these teams have collectively produced 91 athletic championship banners in the school’s brief existence. In addition to athletics, there are over 50 active clubs appealing to a variety of student interests.
After a comprehensive two-year WASC self-study, a WASC Accreditation Team visited ORHS in March 2015 and granted our school a six-year accreditation with a three-year review. This six year accreditation status validates our academic program and the hard work of our staff, students and parents.