We are excited and proud to begin our second year at Portola High School. The class of 2020 will be joined this year by the incoming class of 2021 and all of our learners will be the beneficiaries of over 5 years of expert vision, design, and construction. Our 42-acre campus sits in Irvine, CA adjacent to the Great Park.
Portola High School has opened with the same opportunities for our learners as they would experience at any other high school within the Irvine Unified School District. These opportunities include a rigorous and relevant curriculum, a visual and performing arts program, an athletics program with a complete offering of 9th grade level teams, Junior Varsity level teams, and a robust activities program.
Portola High School was designed in partnership with HMC architects and involved several stakeholders over thirty months. The result is a state of art 21st Century Facility complete with a Performing Arts Complex and 700 seat theater, Aquatics complex including an Olympic sized pool, a 3 full court sized indoor gym, a 3500 seat athletic stadium, student union and learning commons. The school also contains several dedicated student and teacher collaboration meeting rooms. A fully equipped innovation lab (AKA maker space) is located off the Student Union and a Design Room to be used for Senior Passion Projects round out the school.
Technologically, Portola High School boasts a wifi system capable of up to five devices per person at full capacity. As we move closer to a paperless system, our students and teachers will use the latest software to both manage and facilitate learning. Furniture is flexible and nestable throughout the campus, allowing each space to easily convert from one arrangement to the other.
It is no doubt that the physical plant and all its amenities is beyond incredible. That being said, what really elevates Portola High School is the quality of the staff that has been assembled. The leadership team was in place more than 12 months before the opening allowing the research and mindwork necessary to put structures and protocols in place that undergird an elite school for the 21st Century.
Portola High School’s vision is that it be a place where every learner belongs, contributes and thrives. We purposefully use the word learner to include not only students but adults as well. In this rapidly changing world we all need to be continually growing, taking risks and attempting new things. From the vision, came our mission and our Bulldog PRIDE (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Drive, Empathy) motto which describes the characteristics we want each of our students to demonstrate on a daily basis.
At the base of what we are about are our learning outcomes. They are Capable, Creators, Communicators and Contributors. Each of these L.O.s is defined by a set of 21st Century skills that will be specifically addressed across the curriculum and through our advisement program.
The Portola High School Bell Schedule is unique in that it is a mixture of an 8 period alternating block schedule with one day per week in which all periods meet for an abbreviated time. The Portola Leadership team decided that it was in the students’ best interest that teachers teach six classes rather than five in an effort to minimize class size. Rather than the typical class size of 38-40, Portola will run classes at around 32 students per class.
Within the bell schedule there are built in times for teacher collaboration (professional development and staff meetings included), Office Hours (a time for students to get extra support 2x per week), and Advisement (a time for each teacher to meet with 25 students 2x per week in a nonacademic yet structured setting). The schedule was purposefully designed to give students flexibility and options in selecting their courses as well as fewer classes each school night to focus on for study.
When Portola High School students are in their Senior year they we participate in a senior passion project. There will be building blocks to the process on the way, however by the time they reach the 12th grade, each senior will address a societal problem or issue, research a possible approach or solution to the problem, and develop a physical business model to pitch to a panel “Shark Tank” style.
Needless to say we are excited beyond what words can describe. Our staff has fully embraced the concepts of risk taking, continuous improvement, failure is OK, and Portola PRIDE. We eagerly await what 2017-18 has in store for us and the learners we serve. We look forward to your partnership with us.
Serving with PRIDE,
John Pehrson, Principal