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Clark Magnet to choose students by lottery

As March 2 deadline for applications approaches, the race for a seat at the school is on.

February 17, 2012|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • Alina Baghdasarian, 14, and other 9th grade physics classmates react as a bridge fails under weights during the Bridge Building Project at Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta school on Thursday, April 14, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Alina Baghdasarian, 14, and other 9th grade physics classmates…

As Clark Magnet High School readied to open its doors in September 1998, Principal Doug Dall knew he would have to work efficiently to turn the experiment into something with staying power.

“When the idea was broached to have Clark Magnet come online, there was a lot of doubt about whether it would succeed or not,” Dall said. “In fact, a lot of things we did from a design standpoint was to design it as a general comprehensive high school. The idea was, should it fail, to gerrymander the [high school] attendance areas.”

He accepted every student that applied, and the more senior of the two inaugural classes — which included 150 sophomores and 300 freshmen — adopted the motto “Where no one has gone before.”

Next year’s newcomers might consider “Where many want to go.”

Now, 14 years after it opened, Clark Magnet is the district’s highest performing high school. It’s a National Blue Ribbon nominee that logged an Academic Performance Index score of 909 last year.

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“We always have twice as many applicants as we have seats,” Dall said of interest in the school.

The Clark admissions window opened last week, and families hoping to secure a spot have until March 2 to submit their application materials, Glendale Unified officials said.

All students with a minimum 2.0 grade point average living within Glendale Unified boundaries are eligible. There are roughly 300 spaces available for incoming ninth-grade students, officials said. Students entering 10th, 11th and 12th grade also can apply, but few, if any, openings at those grade levels are anticipated.

Total school enrollment is limited to about 1,100 students, officials said.

Admissions are conducted via a lottery system, and Dall and others said they have worked hard to carefully articulate the mission of the science-, math- and technology-focused campus so that interested families can assess whether it would be a good fit for their children.

“It is a great high school,” said Glendale Unified school board member Greg Krikorian, who has had two sons graduate from the school in recent years. “There has been a lot of success up there. We have seen more kids pulled out of their private schools and sent to Clark.”

Board member Mary Boger, who sat on the original 80-member committee that helped define the community’s goals for Clark Magnet, said that the school has developed invaluable collaborations with the likes of Apple, Cisco and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

It is also successful in preparing students to jump into the job market.

“We have students who graduate from there and go to work because they are ready to do it,” Boger said.

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