How They Came To Be
Latitude’s Super School Origin Story
Latitude High School is the culmination of three years of hard work by a talented team of educators, young people, and families. What held them together was their dream of bringing an innovative new high school to Oakland. The team met originally through the XQ Super School competition—and then stayed together even when they were not initially awarded a grant. To develop a school design, they conducted extensive research, visited exemplary schools, and engaged deeply with the community through surveys, focus groups, and other activities. In the process, they gained extraordinary insight into the hopes and aspirations of local students, as well as their academic needs. What they heard most was that students want to learn through real-world, collaborative projects that make an impact. Today, the persistence of Latitude’s leaders is paying off in lively, rigorous learning experiences that connect students with people, organizations, and resources across the community.
An academically rigorous, hands-on approach to education sets high standards for students at Latitude High School and equips them with practical skills to succeed in college and career. In addition to traditional classes, students spend a significant portion of their time in the community: visiting companies across the Bay Area, meeting with mentors, interviewing local experts and professionals for class projects, and learning about the vibrant, complex city around them. Students gain exposure to the wide range of career options in the Bay Area and beyond—all while developing deep connections to the community in which they live. In its first year alone, Latitude educators coordinated 20 extended learning opportunities in the Bay Area. They’ve visited Bay Area tech giants such as Apple, YouTube, Mozilla, and Pandora, as well as smaller companies like Circuit Launch, a robotics start-up in East Oakland, and Elevator Works, a micro-manufacturing incubator in West Oakland. Students have shadowed creative adults across many fields, including immigration and civil rights attorneys, art gallery owners, video game designers, architects, judges, engineers, surgeons, psychologists, and more.
Latitude High Design Features
1.Relevant and place-based learning
Latitude High School applies place- and project-based learning approaches to create relevant learning experiences for its students. Teachers collaborate with academic programs and nonprofits, to prepare students for the academic rigors and equip them with the life skills required for college. The school also offers students all the courses required for California’s public university systems, as well as tutoring and other support to help students succeed.
“We want students to take what they’re learning in the classroom and see the real-world possibilities. We want them to expand their sense of what they’re capable of accomplishing.”
2.Students on a personalized path
At Latitude High School, teachers understand where a student is and where they hope to go. This starts with a home visit at the beginning of the school year to develop relationships with a student’s family and to help them co-create an education plan for each student. In fact, personal growth and relationships with trusted adults are a key part of the Latitude philosophy. Students thrive when they have close relationships with mentors who believe in their potential, hold them to high expectations, and guide them through the steps necessary to achieve success. Mentors can include teachers or members of the community who have knowledge and skills to share and can provide applied learning opportunities in alignment with students’ academic and life goals.
Hi, I’m Cassandra. Class of 2022.
“What's very different about this school is that they take the time to help you with your work. They won't let you give up. Even if you try to give up, they just won't let you.”
3.Strong links with the local community
Latitude leaders partnered with individuals and organizations that show their dedication to students’ success by providing services, partnering for studio projects, or hosting students in an extended learning opportunity. Students visit at least 10 workplaces a year to ignite their career interests and collaborate with professionals on real-world projects. All students will participate in opportunities like internships and student-designed businesses, with the goal of becoming confident leaders, prepared for college and beyond.
Math Program Coordinator
“Kids are exposed to different workplace environments regularly to experience them as anthropologists. This all impacts what they want to do and who they want to be—expanding their orbit beyond what they might initially see for themselves.”
4.Learning that boosts creative confidence
Nurtured by makers and designers, entrepreneurs and artists, Latitude students will acquire the creative confidence they need to navigate the knowledge economy with ease and inspiration. Classes are conducted in cross-curricular studios and workshops that blend inquiry, research, critical thinking, communication, and creativity. In the humanities studio, for example, students act as journalists, historians, and ethnographers as they dig into the stories and culture of Oakland. In the science-design studio, students step into the shoes of researchers and engineers to prototype, design, and test their own inventions. Latitude graduates will demonstrate mastery of a robust set of competencies that include traditional academic disciplines as well as design thinking and social emotional learning.
Hi, I’m Kya. Class of 2022.
“At our school, I get to be myself. We have a lot of freedom here. We can explore without getting judged. Here, you can be anyone you want to be. I want to be myself. I want to be a leader, not a follower. I want to be my own person.”
Theory Into Action
Student work: The great self-driving car race
Latitude 9th graders stepped into the shoes of software engineers, electrical engineers, and human-centered designers to create functioning self-driving cars that met the needs of a specific user group, senior citizens who can no longer drive. Students learned how to program a car using Arduino technology to read from ultrasonic sensors and react to obstacles. Students used AutoCAD Fusion360 to design the wheels of their car. They built upon their skills as electrical engineers by learning how to wire up multiple sensors and motors to allow their car to drive. Throughout the course of this project, students engaged with literature about the complex impacts of the self-driving car industry on society. They examined the vision that industry leaders have for what self-driving cars can contribute and the reservations that their opponents hold. Students presented their need-finding data, their looks-like and works-like prototypes, and their car’s ability to navigate a race track.
Latitude Competencies Met:
- Critical Dissector
California Engineering Standards Met:
- B2.0: Demonstrate the sketching process used in concept development.
- B2.1: Understand the process of producing proportional two- and three-dimensional sketches and designs.
- B6.0: Employ the design process to solve analysis and design problems.
- B6.1: Understand the steps in the design process.
- B6.2: Determine what information and principles are relevant to a problem and its analysis.
- B6.3: Choose between alternate solutions in solving a problem and be able to justify the choices made in determining a solution.
- B6.6 Construct a prototype from plans and test it.
- B6.7: Evaluate and redesign a prototype on the basis of collected test data.
- 0.4%Native American/Indigenous
- 0.0%Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- 6.2%Any other ethnicity
- 6.2%More than one ethnicity
- 59.2%Free and Reduced Price Lunch
- 6.1%504 Plan
- 26.8%English Language Learners
Exploring the city from the start
Even before the school opened, Latitude educators encouraged students to explore the city and learn from its diverse array of neighborhoods, businesses, and people. Find out what learning looks like at Latitude today from teachers, students, and families in this video.
Director of Instruction
“The world isn’t siloed, so why should school be? The benefit of learning across disciplines here at Latitude means students will be ready to apply what they’re learning as adults, no matter the situation.”
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