Today, Latitude High School becomes the 19th XQ Super School, and receives a five-year, $10 million grant to further its innovative work deepening students’ connections to their hometown, the city of Oakland, California.
Small-but-mighty Latitude, a charter school which will cap enrollment at 360 students, offers unique, project-based immersion experiences that dive deep into Oakland’s history, environment and politics. Latitude students spend time learning about their community from local leaders and experts, while gaining insight into a wide range of career possibilities along the way.
For example, through their inaugural “Oakland Changemakers” project, Latitude students have connected with 15 social entrepreneurs who are taking creative steps to improve their neighborhoods and the city as a whole. Latitude students are creating podcasts about each of these community leaders based on a mix of archival research and interviews. The research allows students to better understand the local issues the Changemakers are tackling, and may inspire them to take on local challenges themselves. Each year, students will profile new leaders, creating a comprehensive Oakland Changemaker archive.
So far, Latitude students have gotten to know entrepreneurs like Keba Konte, founder of Red Bay Coffee, which employs locals and formerly incarcerated people, training them in all aspects of the coffee business. They have also connected with leaders in other sectors, like West Oakland’s Pastor Curtis Flemming, an expert on urban issues who leads Dignity Housing West, and Ché Abram, associate director of diversity at Samuel Merritt University.
To enhance students’ ability to explore a wide variety of neighborhoods and issues within Oakland, in the future Latitude intends to operate a “hub” campus with satellite facilities across the city. The diverse-by-design school aspires to reflect the city’s demographics. Currently the student body is majority Latino, with significant representation from the African-American, White, Asian and Yemeni communities. Newcomers to the U.S. make up 14 percent of current students.
Latitude Persisted and Joins the XQ Community
Latitude has been involved with XQ from its 2015 launch, but becoming a Super School was a three-year journey. The founding team of educators built relationships with families and local community organizations who have partnered with them through the early-stage challenges.
XQ will not only support Latitude financially, it also welcomes the school to a growing and passionate network of educators, students, families and civic-minded people reimagining high school across the United States. The 18 other XQ Super Schools span the U.S. from coast to coast. XQ also offers free, open-source tools to help every community reimagine its high schools.
Latitude’s founding principal, Lillian Hsu, knows Oakland from her time as a teacher at Unity High. She also knows innovative high school design from teaching at San Diego’s High Tech High, where she and Latitude’s director of instruction, John Bosselman, were inspired to come back to Oakland to create Latitude.
Latitude also benefits from a coaching relationship with Big Picture Learning, a leader in creating high schools that are student-centered, project-based, and take learning into the real world through internships and mentors.
“We are excited to partner with XQ and join a cohort of schools who are all thinking creatively about designing transformative educational experiences for students,” said Hsu. “XQ’s partnership helps us further our mission of building a school that is deeply connected to our city and supports students in developing the skills and networks to flourish in college and beyond.”