Los Alamos Odyssey High School Proposal Makes It To Next Level Of Competition


LAPS Superintendet Dr. Kurt Steinhaus

LAPS News:

Many in Los Alamos have been following the creative and challenging work of a volunteer group of local teachers, parents and community members to enter a nationwide competition to reimagine high schools and education.

Nearly 10,000 communities throughout the USA entered the competition with innovative and creative ideas for learning. About 348 teams have been selected for the next level of completion. 

It is with great excitement and pride that I announce that our local group named the Odyssey High School project just received this announcement:

“After careful review, we are so excited to tell you that we think your Odyssey High School design is truly substantial and promising, and we are including you in the running to take it to the next level! You should be incredibly proud.

Next step? We will work with you to fine-tune your ideas and transform them into tangible school designs. The next phase is called “Develop”—a series of exercises and questions designed to help you push your imaginative skills and show us your capacity to actually implement your school design.

To help you, we will be launching new tools that allow you to fortify your ideas, share your thinking, and highlight your breakthrough work with others across the nation. That starts today with the brand new XQ Jumpstart Guide. It will guide you through a self-assessment to hone your strength and identify areas for improvement, and it will hopefully help give you new confidence as you move into this next critical phase.

We are deeply humbled by you. Why? Because most people don’t believe they could or should be so bold as to try and invent a new high school. You do. You’re different. You’re rare, and the future depends on you.”

From Russlynn Ali, CEO of XQ Institute:

“We are excited and inspired by the overwhelming number of applicants and participants in XQ: The Super School Project. Tens of thousands of people in communities all across America self-assembled to rethink and redesign the next American high school. They are working together to change one of the largest public systems in the world. They remind me of the enduring values that bind all of us—leadership, accountability, creativity, equality, success, and the simple promise that every child deserves an education that prepares them for life.

“Everyone involved in the XQ movement believes that high school education is fundamental to a vital nation. We are awed by the enthusiasm, optimism and renewed respect for public education reflected in so many of the applications. No prize, no matter how large, can create that kind of authentic renewal of faith and hope. XQ didn’t make that, this challenge is only a vehicle for teams and communities to do it themselves.”  


Key Points

  • XQ: The Super School Project launched September 11, 2015 inviting America to rethink high school. Today, we announce which teams will be advancing to the third and final phase of the competition: 348 teams from 41 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico will be moving forward to the Develop phase.  
  • To date nearly 40,000 people—across all racial, social, economic, and geographic lines—have raised their hands to be part of the movement.
  • Nearly 700 teams from 45 states including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico submitted applications for new or redesigned high schools.
  • And nearly 10,000 people from all 50 states have submitted full applications or concepts for new or redesigned high schools.
  • Teams self-assembled in communities across America—big cities, small towns, and everywhere in between. Teams embody the diversity of the country representing 59 different occupations including educators, artists, engineers, service workers, and parents and students.
  • XQ created 13 modules that form the building blocks of school design to support non-experts in the creation of meaningful, valid, and inspiring new models for high school.  Within the modules we embedded are 250 of the best research- and evidence-based models in the country.
  • All of XQ’s work is anchored in student voice, and reflects the unique needs of our country’s diverse communities. The work is informed from student roundtables, over 2,000 community testimonials, community-led summits and town halls.
  • While the Develop Phase requires robust continuing work, we’re noticing inspiring common themes: 
    • Teams want high schools to be the center of the community again—meaningful and rigorous interconnectivity with local community for shared skill building and cultural connection.
    • They want thorough and smart engaged learning styles that focus on mastery of topic, project collaboration, blended subjects and application in higher ways.
    • They desire to build school designs around involvement of the students themselves, and share a common belief that students must have a true voice in their school culture and their own education path. They know adults across communities and sectors must be accountable for their learning.
    • XQ applicants everywhere want high school to prepare graduates with a deeper world readiness and the skills of knowing how to think in all sorts of dynamic ways.
  • Reviewers scored applications against a detailed rubric. XQ will be adding reviewers as we move forward and will be sharing more about them over time.
  • XQ remains committed to supporting the teams that did not advance today. As long as teams keep working on advancing their ideas, striving toward rigorous, effective, and student-centered approaches, we will continue to support them through the creation and distribution of information resources, and endless encouragement.

Super School Bus Tour

  • XQ will launch a national bus tour in part to honor and celebrate the hard work of applicants who have given selflessly to ensure that tomorrow’s students are prepared for college, career and life in the 21st century.
  • Launching April 21st in Los Angeles, the XQ bus tour will be visiting about 15 American cities between launch and August 2016.
  • The Super School Bus showcases XQ imagination, rethinking the typical “school bus” and suggesting what a future classroom could look like. The walls are interactive and informative. Even the floor has a story.

About XQ: The Super School Project: XQ: The Super School Project launched in September 2015 as an open call to rethink and redesign the American high school. Thousands of applicants and tens of thousands of supporters from towns and cities across the country have united to take on this important work. Teams of students, teachers, parents, community leaders and many more came together to conceptualize innovative models for 21st century learning and create a pathway to success for students. 

Since its launch, XQ has proven to be more than a challenge to create innovative high schools. It is a growing movement to reimagine what is possible for public education in America, and a hub for community voices, cutting edge ideas, and expert resources to make real change possible. For more information, visit www.xqsuperschool.org. Follow us at @XQAmerica.

About XQ Institute: XQ Institute is an organization dedicated to rethinking school in America in order to create new learning opportunities for young people and open up the possibilities of the wider world. The Institute’s board of directors is chaired by Laurene Powell Jobs, Chair of the Emerson Collective. The CEO and founder is Russlynn Ali, former Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, and Managing Director of Education at the Emerson Collective. For more information, visit www.xqinstitute.org.