McLain High School Kicks Off New Year With Community, Political Leaders

Friday, August 17th 2012, 10:24 pm
By: Emory Bryan

It's back to school for Tulsa Public Schools Monday, and no campus will be under greater scrutiny this year than McLain High School.

The district is pouring resources into the school to help turn it around from a history of poor performance.

The McLain Extravaganza was the kick-off Friday for a school year that's certain to be significant, and a lot of people are going to be watching what's happening there.

4/11/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Discuss The Possibility Of Big Changes At McLain High

The hallways at McLain High were packed with parents, McLain students, and students who will be there in a few years.

Dozens of community groups, from the Girl Scouts to credit unions, set up shop at McLain during the kick-off extravaganza.

It's not the first time for the event, but there's never been so much emphasis on engaging the community with McLain.

"We have to just deliver a quality education," said McLain Principal Darius Kirk. "I have to engage the community and let them know hey this is your school, take pride in it, we' can't do it without you"

Kirk graduated from McLain in 1996 and, as the new principal, he's lining up everyone he can find to stake a claim at his school.

That includes community and political leaders, and just about every administrator at TPS.

"We are going to improve achievement, and it's going to take the community and that kind of involvement from everyone to make the difference," said TPS Superintendent Keith Ballard.

McLain, has had test scores in the bottom 5% of schools. That's why it's getting so much attention, and why some parents have bought into the changes made over the last year, and the continuing effort to improve.

"It worked last year so, I mean, you only know if you try it," said Lonita Tallent, a McLain parent.

McLain has an extra committee of influential people for guidance.

McLain Community Liaison Latina Busby said, "We have to have the buy-in of everybody, everybody working together. As educators we can do our part, but parents have to step up and step in to do their part."

All of these leaders watching McLain say the parents and community have to help or it won't change.

One immediate issue is class size. The school has had a big surge in expected enrollment at the last minute, especially in the junior high, and if all those students show up for class, it means new teachers and possibly portable classrooms will have to be brought in.