The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Middle College to double their MVLA student intake with 100 open slots for the 2024-2025 school year

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The Foothill Middle College students hanging out together on campus. (Courtesy Marciano Gutierrez)

The Mountain View-Los Altos Foothill Middle College Program, which offers Mountain View-Los Altos School District (MVLASD) students the opportunity to take both high school and college courses at Foothill College, will soon be able to serve more MVLA students than ever.

Middle College at MVLA, with its unique college offerings and a small cohort of 50 students, creates an environment that values both intellectual curiosity and a tight-knit community. In previous years, they hosted both students of MVLASD and the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD). However, since PAUSD’s announcement to withdraw from the Middle College program, Middle College is now able to offer more spots for students in MVLASD, with 100 open slots, double the size of previous years. 

The program moves to foster a personalized experience for students, who are able to select two to three Foothill courses each quarter and only two-year-long high school courses on campus.

“Beyond building schedules that work for them, they’re able to choose classes that are of high interest to them,” Middle College Social Studies Instructor and Adviser Marciano Gutierrez said. “Mountain View and Los Altos have a ton of fantastic programs, and quite a few course offerings, but Foothill has hundreds of course offerings every quarter.” 

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I got okay grades but I didn’t enjoy learning, just because the [LAHS] atmosphere wasn’t really for me. But the college classes [at Middle College] are just amazing, and I’ve actually started to love learning again.

— Benji Bengtson

The sentiment is echoed by Middle College student junior Benji Bengtson, a former LAHS student.

“I got okay grades but I didn’t enjoy learning, just because the [LAHS] atmosphere wasn’t really for me,” Benji said. “But the college classes [at Middle College] are just amazing, and I’ve actually started to love learning again.” 

The benefits of Middle College don’t stop at the high school level — they allow students to thrive on a college campus as well. By accruing college credits, students are able to enter college as a sophomore. Many opportunities enjoyed by Foothill students, such as clubs, are also available to Middle College students. They can also still participate in their home school’s athletic and after-school programs, senior events and graduation. Fees for textbooks and dining are covered by MVLASD, meaning that Middle College students don’t have to pay a dime for college-level education.

Furthermore, the benefits of Middle College extend beyond its academic opportunities — it also provides a safe community for students who might not have felt welcomed at their home school.

“We were able to provide not only academic challenges, but also that sort of safe haven for them to be whoever they want it to be,” Gutierrez said. “Without fear of being called out or feeling unsafe.”

Middle College students paint for the annual San Francisco mural workshop. (Courtesy Marciano Gutierrez)

At LAHS, Benji felt they didn’t make connections. However, as they transitioned to Middle College, they found a community that welcomed all aspects of their identity.

“I think that there’s an aspect of personalization for neurodivergent students,” Benji said. “I’m allowed to have fidget devices, and I’m allowed to say what’s on my mind.”

Students like Benji have found inclusion within a smaller group of students, rather than the size of a normal high school. 

I think that there’s an aspect of personalization for neurodivergent students. I’m allowed to have fidget devices, and I’m allowed to say what’s on my mind.

— Benji Bengtson

“I know a lot of people who have autism and ADHD who are thriving at Middle College,” Benji said. “It was easier to connect to the queer community here for me; I would recommend it to queer kids.”

With school-sanctioned community-building activities, such as field trips to Yosemite and Third Hour — a group bonding period during class — many students find it easier to build relationships with their peers and professors.

“I’m friends with everybody,” Benji said. “I immediately clicked with my friends and they introduced me to others. It’s not an exclusive friend group here.” 

“I really didn’t think I would like [Middle College] because I’m used to a giant school, but it turned out to be a really good experience,” Middle College student senior Fuipa Alatini said. “Everyone and anyone should consider going to Middle College.”

The LAHS Student Union building will be hosting an information session about Middle College on Friday, January 26. In order to take Middle College, students should fill out the online application form, create a personal statement, upload their high school transcript and submit two teacher or counselor recommendations by February 26. More information can be found here.

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Rebekah Park, Copy Editor
Nayeon Kim, Opinions Editor

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