The Friends of Monterey Provide Lunch for Staff Appreciation Week

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The Friends of Monterey set up a lunch for Staff Appreciation Week at Monterey High School. Photo by Ashley Erikson.

Tucked in a quiet Burbank neighborhood is a small continuation high school many don’t realize is there. Monterey High School has about 150 students and provides education for youth, ages 16 and up, that fall behind in schooling and need the extra support to catch up, or for those looking for an accelerated credit earning program so that they can start college early.

Continuation schools don’t have parent teacher support groups like the PTA, so an ad hoc community group was formed several years ago to support the staff and student’s needs. Behind the helm of the volunteer group is former Burbank Board of Education President, Dr. Roberta Reynolds.

Dr. Reynolds met Monterey High School principal, April Weaver, while sitting in the stands of Burbank Little League baseball games.  The duo spent those weekend game days talking about Monterey and brainstorming ideas to grow involvement. “I started bringing community people, kind of two-by-two over to see Monterey High School,” said Reynolds, whose ad-hoc group calls themselves “The Friends of Monterey.”

The Friends of Monterey set up a lunch for Staff Appreciation Week at Monterey High School. Photo by Ashley Erikson.

The group meets at 4:30pm on the first Thursday of each month at the school. Everyone is welcome to join, and they sit and chat about what people can offer, and brainstorm ways to plug through the school’s wishlist created by Weaver.  Recently they helped to support the school’s open house and represent Monterey at the Welcome to Burbank Fair.

On this particular sunny morning of May 7th, volunteers from The Friends of Monterey gathered together on the school’s outdoor courtyard, preparing an extravagant arrangement of salads, sandwiches, and side dishes in support of Staff Appreciation Week. Over 30 staff members from Monterey High School and the adjacent Magnolia Park School came to enjoy the lunch.

Reynolds recruited her friends from the Burbank Council PTA who jumped into action to make sure the staff was well taken care of.  Flower centerpieces decorated the tables, and an array of food and drink options were donated and brought in by the volunteers.

“The teachers are going to go nuts,” said Weaver, beaming over the food spread laid out across the tables. “This is their first time having a Staff Appreciation Week lunch. I’ve bought them lunch in the past but as far as having a group of people from the community who did something nice for us, yeah, that’s a big deal.”

Ms. Weaver has been working hard to change the perception about the continuation school and has boosted their elective selections, allowing for kids to find things they are interested and passionate about, so that it will motivate them to follow that career. Elective options now include performing arts, music composition, beginning podcasting, ceramics, and sewing.

In the last five years they have seen an increase of graduation rates from 50% to 94%. Weaver has become a master at building her school’s quarter system, which includes 10 week courses at five credits each.  “We’re trying to create a really flexible school for kids,” said Weaver, who addresses each child’s educational background, and makes sure they get the credit recovery they need to graduate. 

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