Lead Story West Edition

New boys academy makes first impression

SOUTH LOS ANGELES — The first ever all-boys school in the Los Angeles Unified School District held its first meet and greet for the upcoming school year July 8.

The Boys Academic Leadership Academy is currently enrolling sixth and seventh grade students.

“I wanted the parents to meet me as the leader of the school, look at my philosophical approach to education and see how it aligns to their own thinking,” Principal Donald Moorer said.

Moorer was the principal at View Park Continuation School last year. Prior to that, he was the assistant principal at Middle College High School for three years.

Middle College High is held on the campus of Los Angeles Southwest College and many students were enrolled in high school and community college classes at the same time.

Principal Donald Moorer

Moorer plans to bring that college environment to BALA, as the academy is called.

Once eighth graders are part of the BALA program next year, Moorer aims to have the more advanced eighth grade students taking college classes.

“Parents are extremely enthusiastic and appreciative that there is a school in their community that gives a focus on young men,” Moorer said.

During the meet and greet, Moorer explained the curriculum, rituals and the daily agenda.

The ritual is a routine setting a positive mindset for the students, he said. As part of the rituals, the school will have a daily town hall meeting. Students will meet first thing in the morning before they go into the classroom and give thanks as a unit.

Moorer said he will start by pouring water into a plant. The goal is have the visual of the plant growing with the students.

“It will make the transformation that I strive to make. As I pour into the plant, I pour into you,” Moorer said.

The regular school day will consists of not only classes, but also wellness breaks, which consist of meditating. The curriculum focus will be on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes.

Professional development day will be every other Friday. It will give the staff time to work with the teachers, professional agenda and get better with project-based instruction.

During the event, two seventh grade teachers, Toney Donnell and Miguel Sanchez, offered examples of project-based instruction to the parents and children.

The task was to build the tallest tower out of the materials they passed out and do it in 15 minutes. Each parent and child team had index cards, tape and a ruler given in a plastic basket.

“The focus is to look at how do we deal with challenge and adversity,” Donnell said.

After the 15 minutes were up, the winning family used the basket to gain height. Surprisingly, no one else used it.

“We’re gonna work on a project like this until its perfect and probably take a different path next time,” Moorer said.

Kimberlynn Burton and her son Jaylan Miller were among those attending the meet and greet.

“I wanted to get more information and see if anything has changed,” Burton said. “It was pretty fun and interesting. I’m glad he enjoyed himself.”

Her son is enrolled in the seventh grade.

“I’m excited for the new school year and see what it has to offer,” she added.

She was looking for a new school and pleased when she found BALA. Jaylan had been going to charter school last year, but Burton wasn’t really impressed by the curriculum and believes he fell a bit behind because of it.

South L.A. resident Abdul-Rahmann Shaheed came to the event because he was curious to know more about the school. His 11-year-old son starts the sixth grade this year.

“School should be challenging, not difficult,” Shaheed said. “When it’s too difficult, the kids check out.”

He hasn’t made a decision yet on whether to enroll his son. He liked what he saw, but has to talk it over with his son’s mother.

The meet and greet concluded with a tie-tying contest. The students will have to wear a uniform and a tie is part of it.

Each new school year BALA will add a new grade level until they reach the 12th grade. Ideally they would like to have at least 100 students per grade level.

Moorer hopes to get up to 200 students per level.

“Once the word gets out, this school is going to be in high demand,” he said. “They have to know we have the compassion and that we are invested in their children. That’s why we have these events. Sadly, parents have seen many schools come and go.”

The 2017-18 BALA school year starts Aug. 15.

For more information on BALA, you can check out its website at: https://boysacademicleadership-lausd-ca.schoolloop.com.