At long last, a permanent home for USC Hybrid High

May 3, 2019

The new building stands opposite Exposition Park

By Ross Brenneman

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USC Hybrid High School Principal Mac Macauley joins other officials in marking the grand opening of the school’s new building, a permanent home in South Los Angeles. (Photo/Margaret Molloy)

Established by the USC Rossier School of Education in 2012, USC Hybrid High College Prep, Ednovate with USC Rossier has for six years operated out of downtown Los Angeles in a space that was always meant to be temporary.

On Tuesday, school, university and city officials marked the fulfillment of a promise, cutting the ribbon on a new and permanent building in South Los Angeles, only one block from the university.

“We are thrilled to finally have a permanent home in the University Park neighborhood—because we are committed to this community, and to facilitating positive multigenerational change through education,” said Karen Symms Gallagher, the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean of USC Rossier. Gallagher is also chair of Ednovate Inc., which operates Hybrid High and four other charter schools founded by USC Rossier. “It has taken us six years, but now Hybrid High is situated where we always wanted it to be.”

Open space permeates 29,000 square feet of instructional space, with giant glass windows looking out on the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum across the street. On the second floor, another 5,500 square feet of outdoor space serves as both a recreational area and cafeteria.

Though students moved from their downtown location in the fall semester, the ceremony this week celebrated a successful transition, demonstrated by—for the fourth year in a row—a 100 percent expected graduation rate and a 100 percent college acceptance rate for the graduating class.

“This grand opening is a recognition of the hard work, effort and commitment that’s been critical to creating an environment that allows our staff and students to thrive,” said principal Mide “Mac” Macaulay. “Our school is producing amazing results in just its first few years of existence.”

A college-focused space

Two floors of multifunctional rooms allow for students to mix and match learning spaces based on their work, a reflection of the personalized learning system emphasized by the Ednovate network. The flexible spaces also kept construction expenses manageable; in total, the project cost $16.4 million, paid for by a combination of philanthropy, financing and tax credits designated for building in a low-income area of Los Angeles.

While most students do work in class, others study independently; in at least one classroom, those with A and B letter grades are permitted to get away from tables and plop down on a couch.

Each teacher’s nameplate shows what college they attended, and each of their classrooms is adorned with all the usual trappings of high schools as well as a plethora of social justice-focused posters, artwork and flags.

Seniors get the first floor to themselves, except for one of the school’s largest rooms, the college counseling office. The office windows feature rows of student initials, with sets of adjacent stickers showing each senior’s respective college acceptances. (Most every sticker features logos on a white background, but USC stickers get to be cardinal and gold.) Senior Jennifer Lewis is a sticker star with 10 college acceptances, including to Stanford, UCLA and USC.

Lewis said that even though the school faculty and staff made the most of the downtown space, “we all knew having our own building could create an opportunity to take us to even greater heights.”

Ednovate Inc. CEO Oliver Sicat said that the celebration should be seen as a show of community unity, bringing together USC, early backers, board of education members and parents.

“The work is off to a fantastic start,” Sicat said. “There is a lot more work to do.”

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