The application season for joining Foothill Technology’s class of 2019 has begun. As eighth graders consider their high school options, it’s necessary to evaluate the preconceived notions of Foothill that have been created by stereotypes. Over time, I’ve collected a portfolio of clichés that people from Buena, Ventura, and Foothill like to throw around, and incoming students need to know how seriously (or unseriously) to take them.
1) “Foothill’s the nerd school”
This is probably Foothill’s most notorious stereotype. The innovative BioScience Academy, the award winning speech and debate team, and the abundance of computer devices (see number 4) are all things that could be identifying our school as “nerdy,” yet they’re all things to be proud of. Foothill is blatantly a highly academic school, ranking in the top five for highest average SAT scores in Ventura County this year. How could the nerd essence of Foothill possibly turn anyone away? The only negatively nerdy factor of Foothill is the fact that our mascot is a dragon.
2) “Foothill sports suck”
Foothill has had success after major success in their first ever semester of sports. Volleyball scored plenty of points, tennis dominated playoffs, cross country made it well into CIF, soccer is snagging wins left and right, and girls’ water polo is threatening the league’s top teams. This is only the inaugural year. You can follow the girls’ water polo winning streak here.
3) “Foothill’s too small”
Foothill is much smaller than its neighboring high schools, but the size of the campus makes getting to class on time feasible. You don’t have to ration out your time or determine how far away you want to walk from your next class, because everything is surrounding one tiny lawn. This may be the exact reason for newcomers’ reluctance: the size makes it less social. It may be more reserved, but I still pass new people in the halls every day. Don’t fear isolation at “the small school” because Foothill is just social as anywhere else. It’s not confining, as many people portray it to be. The smaller population allows teachers be on a more one-to-one level with their students. When teachers have more individual relationships with their students, kids learn to relate to and respect them.
4) “Foothill’s the tech school”
What else makes us a tech school aside from the word “technology” being in our name or the bucketfuls of Ipads and Chromebooks in our cabinets? Ipads are typically used as segway for students to goof off in class. People get distracted and change the backgrounds, peruse other apps, and take enough pictures on photo booth to prompt many teachers to restrict the camera feature. The computers in the pod are another example of Foothill’s “techiness,” but their slowness nearly defeats their purpose. What’s the point of giving students the tools to do all their homework as last-minute as possible when Google Drive won’t even load by the time lunch ends? And don’t forget Foothill’s faulty Wi-Fi. With these reasons, it’s easy to deride Foothill’s electronics, but nevertheless, they do still enrich education and provide new outlets for students. They aren’t perfect, but we’re lucky to have the resources we do.
5) “Foothill will prepare you for college”
I wouldn’t say Foothill prepares students for college much better than any other school. Foothill takes post high school plans into account much sooner than other schools, but we aren’t any different in terms of college preparations. Every school has counselors to walk you through it if you need the help. I would say that Foothill’s atmosphere during college applications is more anxious and emotional than anywhere else, but this isn’t better preparing anyone. It may actually be making the college application process more difficult and stressful.
6) “Bad Spanish Program”
At Foothill, Spanish classes are taught using a method called TPRS (Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling). To the students, myself included, it feels like all you do is make up ridiculous stories that end with the punchline “Que horrible,” and the program is often ridiculed for this. To shed some light on FTHS Spanish, I’d like to say that I don’t mind TPRS and that the teachers have continually succeeded in developing bilingual students. Using newer teaching methods is just part of going to a newer school.
7) “Where grades are high and students are higher”
All high schools have drug using students, yet I feel like this pun was made just because it works, not because it’s hugely true. Maybe Foothill is known for having students that hit the blunt just as hard as they hit the books, but the drug activity isn’t so excessive that it should be a deciding factor in whether or not to attend the school.
8) “Foothill’s hard”
Foothill is no more difficult than anywhere else. I can’t say this with confidence because it’s the only high school I’ve ever attended, but there’s no reason people should think it is. Just because it’s known for being highly academic doesn’t mean the work is more difficult. It just means more students are succeeding. People have made assumptions that the block schedule means more homework, but even if it does, having a long period provides ample time for absorbing lessons. Plus, having an extra day to do homework makes managing your time easy.
Foothill has its strengths as well as its flaws, but it being a small magnet school shouldn’t give people a reason to talk down to it. So whether you’re applying to Foothill, currently attending, or know you’re one of the worst offenders of Foothill stereotyping, take the above corrections into consideration.
Background Photo Credit: Lucy Knowles/The Foothill Dragon Press