The truth behind McAuliffe Heights

I read, with interest, the article titled “Parents protest school closings,” in the March 12 edition of the Altoona Mirror.

There were several quotes about the McAuliffe Heights program that this letter intends to clarify.

When McAuliffe Heights became the district’s magnet school in 1977, the children who attended the former Irving Elementary were given first priority.

Several meetings explained the parameters of the program, including dress code, parent volunteer hours and looping. If parents were not able to comply, their children were re-assigned to Juniata Gap Elementary.

This process remains in place today, and a child can be sent to his/her home school if the requirements of the program are not met.

Parents who want their children to attend McAuliffe Heights must take a tour and write a letter of intent to administration. They are then placed on a waiting list.

Every effort is made to accommodate the parents’ requests. However, the waiting list may be extensive, due to the fact that McAuliffe Heights is a school of choice, and parents from across the district may have applied.

While several grants have provided each student at McAuliffe Heights with a laptop computer, the other nine elementary schools also have “top notch technology and detailed staff development.”

In fact, every child has their own laptop computer at Wright Elementary. Stating that “students in the magnet school are advanced while low-income parents, who live in the immediate area have been put on a waiting list,” seems to imply that McAuliffe Heights is exclusive or selective.

This is certainly not the case.

As a volunteer at the school, I am very familiar with the students there. McAuliffe Heights’ students are not unlike students at every other school – varying academic abilities and economic backgrounds.

McAuliffe Heights has certainly made the Altoona Area School District proud as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, and twice named, Apple Distinguished School.

It is my hope that this magnet school will continue to be a source of pride for all of us in the years to come.

It is also my hope that people, before they criticize, should research as I have, to find out the truth.

Marsha Rapp