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West High School in Manchester To Be Reimagined Thanks to $300k Grant

Jason Moon for NHPR

The Manchester School District is planning to dramatically redesign the student experience at one of its high schools.

The details are yet to be worked out, but key concepts of West High's makeover include breaking up the normal school schedule so that students can do more learning outside the classroom, like through internships with local businesses. The plan also calls for every student to receive a personalized learning plan that's tailored to his or her particular needs.

Bolgen Vargas is the Manchester Superintendent of Schools.

“When I first arrived here a year ago, one of the things that I noticed was the high level of negativism. And I think that today is an example of how we have transformed that and are changing that.”

West High does face significant challenges.

Nearly two-thirds of its students come from low-income families and its four-year graduation rate is well below the state average.

The district says a detailed plan for the redesign will be unveiled by the end of next year, with the changes fully implemented by the fall of 2019.

The grant is from the Boston-based Barr Foundation. 

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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