What Does it Mean to Be a Charter School?

When you step on the campus of Helix Charter High School, you immediately sense the comprehensive nature of the school. We are a school of approximately 2400 students being served by approximately 200 staff members. We are a school whose goal is to ensure that all students can make the choice of attending college because in order to graduate from Helix Charter High School, all students must meet the A- G entrance requirements for the UC/CSU system. We also ensure that students have a choice to develop a skill while at Helix as we offer many electives that focus in areas such as the medical field, animation, business skills, culinary arts and more. Students have the ability to participate in a myriad of athletic programs and well as performing arts programs. When you step on the campus, you sense the tradition, the pride and the excellence that has been the norm of Helix for over 60 years. So, you might wonder after getting to know us, what makes us a charter school and therefore different from a public high school?
Helix High School was the first public comprehensive high school in the state to convert to a charter high school. While we retained the identity of Helix through our rich tradition of academic excellence, our mascot and other makings of a high school, we did make a commitment to do things differently in regards to instruction when becoming a charter high school. We committed to having seniors participate in a culminating high school presentation known as the senior project. We committed to having grade level teams in which a grade level principal, counselor, secretary and academic advisor follow the same group of students for the entire four years they are a Highlander. We committed to ensuring all students are prepared for success after high school through a rigorous curriculum that has a cross section of academic courses and electives so that students complete a major in high school much like they might in college. We know our students can meet these high standards and are committed to supporting our students through tutorials, after school and Saturday programs.
To be able to be innovative and creative with the instructional program to meet our students’ needs, we receive flexibility from the state as to how money is spent and we have greater autonomy over our programs.  For this flexibility, however, we must meet more rigorous accountability measures that must be a part of our charter. We welcome these increased accountability measures as they help to keep our focus on the main thing: students and their continued learning.