Hilltop High School, home of the Lancers, is one of 12 comprehensive high schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District. Along with 11 middle/junior highs, one continuation school, several alternative education programs, and five adult schools, Hilltop is part of the largest secondary school district in the nation. Our “California Distinguished School” recognized school (1996 and 2005) has 2,103 students. About 621 (30%) of our students are from other schools, most within the boundaries of the Sweetwater District; approximately 536 of these students come to Hilltop for our Foreign Language and Global Studies (FLAGS) magnet program. Other students from outside of our feeder area enroll to attend the Academies of Information Technology (AoIT) and Hospitality and Tourism (AoHT).
Hilltop High staff and students are housed on a campus originally designed 50 years ago for 1,200 students. During the 2008-2009 academic school year, we began the remodeling of two main classroom buildings and the construction of a new two-story building. These remodeling projects were made possible by Proposition O funding and were completed by the beginning of the 2010-2011 academic school year. Each remodeled classroom contains state of the art technology which includes Smart Board, sound system, and computers. Currently, 102 classrooms and portable classrooms are currently in use, with other facilities such as the gymnasium, adaptive physical education room, library, and cafeteria available as venues for special events.
Hilltop High operates on a calendar of 180 instructional days, which begins in July and ends in June. The school has a traditional six period schedule with each period consisting of 55 minutes. The school has a shortened schedule on designated Mondays to provide time afterschool for teachers to meet. These days are designated as “Intervention Days” with students given opportunities to review, re-learn, re-take tests or other intervention strategies during class time.
This comprehensive high school serves an ethnically diverse population of students: 77.3 % Hispanic, 14.7 % White, 1.8% African American, 3% Filipino, .3% Asian, and 2.9% other. In English Language Development (ELD) classes we have 63 students (3%). Hilltop’s 266 English Learners comprise 13% of the school population. The special education program serves 220 students (11%), including services for the visually impaired. The Resource Specialist program has 146 students (6%) and there are 71 students (3%) in Special Day Class. The moderate/severe program includes three teachers and 39 students (2%), utilizing three converted classrooms and a specially renovated restroom. There are 416 students (18%) identified for the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program.
The principal works collaboratively with faculty, staff, parent, and student groups to effectively run the school. These elected and appointed groups include the assistant principals; counselors; Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s), formerly known as departments; elected members of the Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC); the School Site Council (SSC); the English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC); the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA); and the Principal’s Round Table, which is a group representing a cross section of students in all grade levels. Hilltop High School had a student representative on the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) board during the 2008-2009 academic school year. An efficient and professional classified staff provides support to all school stakeholders.
Monthly Professional Hours allow teachers to meet to align curriculum to standards, to develop pacing guides and common assessments, and to examine student work. Opportunities for release planning days in order for teachers to coordinate coursework are available through several funding sources. There are also 10 common minimum days scheduled when students are released at 12:36 p.m. to allow for creating and analyzing Common Formative Assessments, sharing strategies for implementation of the District Common Language, and developing and implementing targeted intervention during STAR intervention time.
One of Hilltop High’s strengths is its magnet programs. Our special curricular programs include the Foreign Language and Global Studies (FLAGS) magnet program, including the study of one or more of seven foreign languages for four years and interdisciplinary teams at each grade level. Exchange programs exist with other schools in Italy, Germany, Australia, France and China. There are approximately 135-155 FLAGS students at each grade level including regular and Accelerated (Honors) classes.
The Academy of Hospitality & Tourism and the Academy of Information Technology offer students a learning experience that goes beyond the classroom setting connecting with school to career. Partial funding for the academies is provided through a California Partnership Grant. Students are offered a multitude of career-related opportunities that are woven into these programs, including a one-year mentoring experience, internships, educational field trips, business mentoring, and extensive exposure to the business and educational communities. The Academy of Hospitality & Tourism currently has an enrollment of 85 students (4 %) and the Academy of Information Technology currently has an enrollment of 114 students (5 %). Both Academies meet the A-G graduation requirements and many of the elective courses are articulated with Southwestern Community College.
Hilltop also offers an extensive Regional Occupation Program (ROP) including courses such as, Multi-Media Productions, Business Computer Applications, Computer Web Site Design, Introduction to Engineering and Principles of Engineering. Hilltop’s successful academic record is also a result of a large Accelerated, Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) program in math, science, social studies, English and foreign language. Hilltop supports the academic needs of students by a variety of programs such as Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), Structured English Immersion (SEI), Math support, English support, Read 180, and CAHSEE support. Hilltop also offers a variety of enrichment programs such as Visual and Performing Arts courses in Music Technology, Photography, Drama, Band, Choir, and unique courses such as Guitar and Academic Decathlon. Hilltop has an active student organization (ASB), over 40 clubs, and a full array of sports for boys and girls. Trained student peer mediators in two Connect Crew classes are available to assist other students as needed. Additionally students also have the option of participating in a peer tutoring during intervention time on the block schedule days.
At Hilltop, student successes are celebrated in many ways, including: Lancer-of-the-Day, FLAGS Academic Recognition, AoHT/AoIT Awards, Perfect Attendance Awards, the Most-Improved Student Breakfast, and the annual all-school awards/scholarship ceremony. The Hilltop High School web site promotes students’ accomplishments, special programs, curriculum enhancements such as test preps, links to “web quest” curriculum units, alumni contacts, the school calendar and daily bulletin. The site is informational, useful and easily accessible and was recognized with an award of excellence.
The School Wide Title I and SCE Programs offers multiple areas of support on campus including data-driven placement and monitoring of student progress, strengthening the reading and math skills of underachieving students, targeted tutoring opportunities, CAHSEE support, and other supplemental activities to extend the core academic experience.
Hilltop High School has shown growth of 62 points on the Academic Performance Index since spring 2009. Hilltop met all API growth targets except the subgroup for Students with Disabilities in spring 2011.Despite the progress indicated by state measures Hilltop High School was designated a Program Improvement (PI) year 1 school in 2011 for not meeting the federal AYP requirements. As a PI year one school, Hilltop will offer school choice and transportation services to students. The PI year one corrective action consists of a targeted intervention program during school, afterschool, and on Saturday’s. Hilltop will implement a targeted Saturday Scholars program in all core content areas. Hilltop High School is striving to provide all students with a rigorous education for success in the future. We are fortunate to be a part of the Sweetwater Union High School District, a leader in comprehensive staff development and partner in the innovative college admissions program, “Compact for Success”.