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Mailbag: Estancia, Mesa are valid high school choices

September 15, 2011

Re. "School Flight," Sept. 4, 6, 7: The fact that many (it used to be about 50%) Westside Costa Mesa kids go to Newport Harbor High School is an important piece of the total Costa Mesa schools issue, in my opinion, when analyzing white flight from Mesa Verde and where we go from here.

For many years, NHHS and Ensign Intermediate School have been raising the bar with high expectations for all students regardless of race or if they live in Costa Mesa. NHHS parents have been digging in, donating and helping where needed with the NHHS well-funded foundation for years. NHHS academies give all students great educational opportunities.

I believe Estancia and Costa Mesa high schools are poised to compete for those kids whose parents were dubious of Estancia and Mesa and would automatically transfer out of Costa Mesa schools to NHHS or even Corona del Mar High School.

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Public schools give our kids a sense of the real world and strengthen our community. Honors and Advance Placement classes are available for all kids too.

Parents need to tour Estancia and Mesa and look at the curriculum seriously and not just take someone else's word about the schools' quality.

So am I an expert on this? No, but I'm a substitute teacher in the juvenile hall schools and often in NMUSD schools, and I served as a NMUSD trustee from 1994 to 2002.

I've had my five kids in all types of educational settings (Christian, home school, Estancia, NHHS, Back Bay and Middle College) and would send them to Estancia or Mesa if I had the chance to now.

Councilwoman Wendy Leece

Costa Mesa

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Diversity in schools is a strength

While I am glad the Daily Pilot has highlighted the issue of flight from Mesa Verde neighborhood schools, I don't think enough attention was given to the actual schools and their current and past students.

The only way to debunk stereotypes and myths is to explore the schools themselves rather than rehash claims made by people who simply perpetuate rumors. As an alumna of California Elementary, TeWinkle Intermediate School and Estancia High School, I have firsthand knowledge of the quality of our schools. I am now a sophomore at UCLA, and it is clear to me that Estancia prepared me well for college. I was challenged in my classes, including eight Advanced Placement, and nurtured by many outstanding teachers.

I was able to form lifelong friendships with people of all backgrounds. I was able to be involved in almost every part of the school community and play four years of varsity soccer and softball, something that would have been more difficult at a larger school.

The diversity of Estancia's student body is a strength, not a weakness. Being able to interact and form relationships with people from various walks of life is vital for a well-rounded education. No school is perfect, but Estancia was great for me and many others.

Jillian Beck

Costa Mesa

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