It’s a rare combination and connection of schools. Romig Middle and West High schools, both who are marching to the same beat.
Much like the smooth melodies coming from Romig's 7th grade jazz band and the seamless harmonies heard inside the hallways at West High, two Anchorage schools have found harmony. These schools used to be divided but have no combined resources to benefit their students.
“There used to be a line in the hallway that said this is West this is Romig, you do not cross, now those are eliminated,” said West High principal Rick Stone.
No longer forbidden zones, each are now taking advantage of the other's classrooms, skills, and staff to encourage every child to reach their own highest potential.
“One of the things I focus on is the graduation rate at Romig for West High,” said Romig Middle principal Sven Gustafson.
“What happens at Romig directly affects me at West,” said Stone.
It’s a 7th through 12th grade approach. Stone and Gustafson are working together to provide more educational opportunities within the same zip code--opportunities like the highly gifted, Spanish and Russian immersion programs that start on the elementary level. There is also the 7th through 10th grade International Baccalaureate Middle Years program that compliments West High's diploma program.
“We are trying to make it where it's the best possible situation for every single kid,” said Gustafson. “Being a kid that lives across the street or one that comes in for a special program.”
With 400 new students coming into West High each year, the goal is make the transition to high school effortless while also focusing on each student’s specific needs.
“Our counselors can walk down the hall and talk to the counseling core at Romig, or the teachers can talk to each other and say student X needs a little more assistance or student Y needs to be more challenged,” said Stone.
It’s a unique arrangement between two schools working in concert with one another, offering students of all ages a chance to take advanced courses
“It would be silly for me to not open up my Algebra 2 classes for some Romig kids, or my higher level language classes,” said Stone.
It’s also a concept that ASD superintendent Dr. Jim Browder hopes will become a model for the Anchorage school community, the state, and even the country.
“There is no change, they go from the building they are in, to the building in they are in, it’s connected.”
The schools' two principals say it’s a success story that allows them to work with their students from their first day at Romig until they graduate from West.
“Our graduation rate has jumped 23% in six years, that's unheard of, our dropout rates are being cut in half, our suspension rates are cut, all that positive is feeding on the positive,” said Stone.
Two unique schools, one campus. Each drumming to the same beat of success.
“We are Romig and we are West but yet those lines get blurred at the benefit of the kids,” said Stone.