Spotlight on Latitude High School’s Powerful Community


Thank you to Latitude High School for sponsoring our spotlight. Latitude is a free public charter school that welcomes all students in Oakland and its surrounding communities. Based on innovative teaching practices, Latitude students are making powerful, positive changes in the Oakland community.

Latitude students make lasting memories and impacts

At Latitude High, students tackle meaningful, creative projects that they take pride in for years to come. Twenty years from now, Latitude students will look back on their ninth grade year and remember publishing a book, recording their own podcast, designing a musical speaker box, building a self-driving car, and so much more.

Before building their own self-driving cars, Latitude 9th graders visited Nuro, a local autonomous vehicle company, to see what professional designers and engineers are doing in this field | Photo: Latitude High School

Oaklore, the signature ninth grade podcasting project, is one of students’ favorites. Students work in teams to interview inspirational changemakers who are working to impact an important local issue. The current season of Oaklore is focused on the Bay Area housing crisis, so students recently interviewed the founders of Lava Mae, a nonprofit that brings mobile showers to unhoused neighbors. In Humanities class, students researched the roots of the housing crisis, including the history of redlining in the Bay Area. They are now weaving their research and interviews into a script that they will record for an episode of the Oaklore podcast.

ninth graders learn about robotics
Latitude freshmen visiting startup company Circuit Launch to interview innovative roboticists | Photo: Latitude High School

Learning at Latitude is creative and hands-on. In tenth grade Physics, students designed and built a Tiny House that was donated to the first Tiny House village for homeless youth in the Bay Area. In Design-Engineering class, each student designed an audio speaker box to play their podcast, using 3D modeling software that professional designers use. They learned how to build all of the circuits to turn the speaker box on and off and to control the volume switch. For the Autonomous Vehicle project, students learned to use a 3D printer and a laser cutter to create the wheels and programmed ultrasonic sensors to make their vehicles self-driving. At the end of the project, their teacher constructed an obstacle course for the students to navigate with their autonomous cars.

Latitude High School tenth graders in the redwoods
Latitude students use the Bay Area as their extended classroom: 10th graders delving into ecology at Redwood Regional Park | Photo: Latitude High School

Latitude’s tagline is “Oakland is our Home. The Bay Area is our Extended Classroom” because the staff at Latitude is committed to exposing students to the full range of opportunities that exist in the Bay Area. From the time students are in ninth grade, they travel with their advisory every month to a different company or non-profit organization across the Bay Area to connect with creative adults from many walks of life. Latitude students have interviewed music producers at Pandora, architects at Gyroscope Inc., journalists at ABC News, video game designers at Phoenix Labs, art curators at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, engineers at Youtube and Google, pediatric surgeons at Children’s Hospital, and more.

ninth graders visit ABC news
Latitude 9th Graders visiting ABC News to explore career opportunities in journalism

Latitude High by the numbers

  • $0: Latitude is a free public school open to all students.
  • 35: As the only high school in the Bay Area with a zip-code-based lottery, Latitude’s students come from 35 different middle schools across Oakland and beyond.

Adjusting for distance learning

During distance learning, Latitude staff provided daily synchronous instruction and delivered project supplies to students’ homes, so students could continue to engage in hands-on learning. Teachers continued to lead safe, socially distanced outdoor activities, including mountain biking trips to the Bay Bridge and overnight camping trips to Muir Beach and Lake Chabot.

What parents say about Latitude High

“I really could not have imagined a school like Latitude. The leadership and staff are deeply committed to the students and teaching; each student is truly ‘seen.’ The dynamic curriculum is thoughtful and relevant. The students are encouraged to focus on community and also their own career and entrepreneurial creativity. I have seen so much growth in my son, both in his academics and self esteem. I am grateful for their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Even with all the struggles of 2020 and online learning, Latitude has faced these challenges with engagement and real commitment. The administration and teaching staff is one of a kind, and they see each student uniquely as well.” ~ Desiree Alexander, mom of sophomore, Xavier

“In these unprecedented times, Latitude has gone all out for staff and students. Teachers have done an amazing job to help ease students’ fears and anxieties, while keeping them on track academically. I love Latitude so much. All of the teachers are phenomenal in going above and beyond! They are dedicated to bringing out the fun in learning.” ~ Barbara Curiel, mom of sophomore, Lauren

Latitude’s model of instruction is inspired by Big Picture Learning, an international organization that supports students in exploring their passions, and by High Tech High, an award-winning group of schools in San Diego. Every year, over 7,000 educators from around the world visit High Tech High to learn about its model of project-based learning. Latitude’s Principal, Director of Instruction, Humanities Lead, and Science Lead all previously worked at High Tech High, so they have an unusual depth of experience with high quality project-based learning.

Learn more about Latitude High School in Oakland

To learn more about Latitude, check out their video here or attend one of their upcoming Info Sessions, every Tuesday and Saturday in January.

Thank you to Latitude High School for sponsoring our spotlight. Based on innovative teaching practices, Latitude students are already making powerful, positive changes in the Oakland community.

[All photos provided by Latitude High School and used with permission]




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