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First and Last Year at El Rancho for Ellen Ochoa Transfer Students
September 2, 2022
Ellen Ochoa Preparatory Academy, a once magnet high school that provided students with access to another option other than attending El Rancho High School, closed its doors to a class of 33 rising seniors.
Ellen Ochoa Prep opened back in 2016 with the hopes of creating an innovative learning environment that allowed students to be college and career ready. It provided students to have a STEAM-based education with reduced class sizes, a small campus, and more individualized attention from teachers–something not available at El Rancho.
Due to the low enrollment, the ERUSD Board decided to close the school for good–and forced the once junior class to be transferred to El Rancho for their senior year.
Former students of the school, like Angelina Martinez, created a petition on change.org back in 2021 to keep the school from closing and although the school eventually did close, it remained open for the 2021-2022 school year.
Many students and teachers wished for the school to continue in operation, but ERUSD Board members thought otherwise and did not fight to keep the school around announcing its closure back in April of 2022. Teachers and other staff members of Ellen Ochoa Prep were placed and dispersed into schools throughout the district like STEAM Academy and North Park Academy.
The school had a total of three graduating classes– classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022– and many juniors hoped to have been able to graduate at Ellen Ochoa Preparatory Academy like the classes before them.
Not only does the closure of the school deny the class of 2023 to graduate from the school they had known for the past three years, but it also excludes the possibility of future students choosing a different path and attending a magnet high school in their community that allows them to have a unique high school experience. It is a great loss that a school with so much potential be closed so soon to its opening–only operating for six years.
“I felt upset and sad over the closing of the school that I really enjoyed. I always thought I was going to attend that school all 4 years,” says senior, Lesley Garcia.
Now Ellen Ochoa Prep transfer students are navigating their way around a much different environment and adjusting to the changes that moving schools bring.
“I am not enjoying [El Rancho] so far, but it is the beginning of the school year so we will see,” says senior, Joshua Barrera.
Some students do seem to be adjusting to the changes and the opportunity that attending a large high school brings.
“After figuring out my way through the campus I realized I do enjoy spending my senior year at El Rancho,” says senior, Edward Ramirez.
Many of the students are ecstatic about all the school events El Rancho hosts throughout the year and the fun activities they will get to enjoy as seniors.
“I hope to go to all the school events like the dances and home games. I also hope to join a club and venture out and make new friends in this school,” says senior, Nancy Correa.
El Rancho High School has provided students with greater opportunities than Ellen Ochoa did, but that does not erase the fact that uprooting a student’s life during the last year of high school is still a difficult transition to embark on.
“I would have preferred it if the district let us stay at Ellen…,” says senior, John Villareal.
Any type of change can be hard to experience, but for many, they won’t let that get in the way of having a great school year like everyone else.
Garcia said, “ I feel that the differences [between Ellen Ochoa Prep and El Rancho] will not stop me from enjoying my senior year.”
Now Ellen Ochoa Prep transfer students on a daily basis are slowly, but surely adjusting to the changes of once attending a small campus that had about 150 students, to now tackling the herd that is a high school with more than 2,000 students with class sizes that exceed seating capacity.
Many of the transfer students just hope to spend their last year of high school having fun and creating lasting memories in a new environment.
“So far I’ve enjoyed my time here and I know I’m gonna be here for this last year of school and I hope I can make the most out of it,” says Sebastian Orn.
The last class of Ellen Ochoa Prep will remain forgotten by many, but the 33 once juniors will always remember the great memories that Ellen Ochoa Prep brought to them–even if they weren’t destined to graduate at the school they knew for so long.