I hate standing in lines but my wife and I have done it four times for our kids. Once, to get our son a coveted Wii when stores couldn’t stock them fast enough, and the other was to garner each of them one of the 80 spots in the Lake Oswego School District’s Scholars’ Alliance program.
Billed as an educational enrichment program designed to help high school students hone their critical thinking and problem solving skills, the program is the brainchild of district superintendent Bill Korach. Along with guest speakers and other district personnel, (many of whom volunteer their time), he leads students and their parents through almost monthly discussions on topics ranging from emotional intelligence to human courtship behavior.
There is also a college planning component that intensifies as students progress through the program from sophomore to senior year. High school counselors as well as a private college counseling specialist guide students through the college search and application process, culminating in a wrap-up session their senior year where selected students read from their college essays and everyone identifies the college they will be attending.
In a community where parents are looking to give their kids every advantage they can, it’s little wonder that moms and dads, myself included, have done crazy things to gain admission. With my son, he and I got in line at 4 a.m. outside doors that were to open at 9 a.m. for a first-come, first-served registration. We were third to show up but very popular as we shared our 96 oz. Starbucks traveler with like-minded go-getters.
Fast forward two more years and it’s the day before Scholars’ Alliance signups. I received a call from a friend that the line was already forming outside the District Administration office at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon with registration scheduled for 9 a.m. the next day. By 4:00 I was number 39 in line, setting up a tent for the night and watching everyone’s kids as they set up card tables and started playing cards, turning the line into an excuse to party.
By kid number three, the vigil started at 5 a.m. the day before signups as my wife showed up with a friend and took their 9th and 10th places in line alongside parents who had already spent the first of two nights camped in wait for a sought after Scholars’ Alliance spot. It was probably the first time my wife and I were relieved that we only had three children and not four, knowing our days of staking out our claim in this program were over.
This year the school district has gone to an all-lottery system for admittance into the program, eliminating the campouts and early morning wake-up calls (although in hindsight, they were a hoot). It is fee based and regular attendance is expected.
Is it worth it? I’d have to say, yes. I relished the opportunity to spend a few hours every month with my kid exploring what makes him or her tick. My kids were forced to think outside the box which doesn’t always happen when they’re busy memorizing formulas or learning a language. Each of them got into a college of their choice, and while I can’t say that wouldn’t have happened without Scholars’, it did make the process much more navigable. Besides, I have some great stories to share about what a parent will do all in the name of doing right by his kid.
Got a Scholars’ Alliance story to share? Or a story of some crazy thing you’ve done as a parent for your kid? Leave your comments here.