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Millennium High School
(Previously "Continuation School" and
Piedmont Independent Learning)

Before it was MHS it was called Continuation ("Contin") school.

The school was located at Beach school. In the Beach School archives this 1987 photo was found:

1987 Continuation photo.jpeg

Alternative school opens its enrollment

Le'Vada Gray, Aug. 31, 1998

Piedmont Independent Learning High School seems to have a lot to offer its students - small class sizes, personal attention and a curriculum tailored to their needs.

What the alternative public school does not have are enough students to fill its 55 openings.

As school began Monday, Principal Ken Yale was still searching for a few good students, and was not confining his pursuit to the Piedmont Unified School District.

Yale said he plans to fill the extra seats with high school students who live outside the affluent district and to hold enrollment open throughout the school year.

"In this experimental process, there's a narrow window of opportunity for students outside of the districts to come in," Yale said. "They will be able to stay as long as it takes to graduate."

Looking outside the district for students is not new, school officials said.

"Because our (district) population is so small, sometimes it's tough to get enough students," said Assistant Superintendent Pat Gemma.

Piedmont Independent was established in 1981 and opened the next year to help students in need of more personal attention; it offers them an individualized curriculum that most traditional high schools don't offer.


Students at the high school spend four hours each day in class, learning mathematics, science, English and social studies in a small, noncompetitive environment. The short day, said Yale, "gives students the opportunity to engage in internships and community-based learning while earning credit outside the classroom."

Community as classroom

Students work at after-school jobs and earn credit for activities such as dance classes, music lessons and community service. They can take classes at Piedmont Adult School, area community colleges and UC-Berkeley Extension, as well as earning physical education credit through the downtown Oakland YMCA.

"They can use the whole community as their classroom," said Tra Holloway Boxer, a former Piedmont Independent principal who currently coordinates student counseling services at the school.

When classes are not in session, a teacher is available after hours for students who need extra help.

"The school was established for students who didn't work well in the traditional high school," said Holloway Boxer. "Piedmont Independent is one of the safe places where they can be who they are and have people listen to them."

Class size averages 15 students, who may be taking algebra, geometry and even pre-calculus in small groups in the same classroom. Because the setup allows students to work at their own pace, it's possible for them to earn more than a year's credit in each subject.

Leah Berkowitz, 18, graduated from Piedmont Independent in June. She had attended Bishop O'Dowd High School, a private high school in the Oakland Unified School District, for 2-1/4 years before transferring to Piedmont Independent. Berkowitz attended the school for a year before she graduated.

Private school too "high-pressure'

Bishop O'Dowd "was a very high-pressure place," Berkowitz said. "It wasn't right for me at the time. At Piedmont Independent, the teachers were very good and they talked to you about life issues. They put themselves out there for you."

Berkowitz is attending Diablo Valley College this fall. She said she appreciated the help she received at Piedmont Independent.

"It's such a good place to be if you need more individual help and attention rather than in a classroom where you don't get it," she said.

Each morning at the school begins with a community meeting, where students and staff members are encouraged to talk about how they are feeling and whether they are having any problems at home or at school. They are then asked to share their stories and feelings with counselors, teachers or other students before the meeting ends.

"The most important thing in their success is a partnership between the students, teachers, families and community," Yale said. "Inside of the classroom, it provides safety and cooperation for every student."

Gemma acknowledges that the school's program is not for everyone. "It meets the needs of some kids who walk to the beat of a different drummer," he said.

Yale urged students who think they would work well with the Piedmont Independent curriculum to consider applying. 

The San Francisco Examiner - Fri - Dec. 24, 1999

But that didn't stop Piedmont Independent Learning High School from formally changing its name last summer to the decidedly more sparkling-sounding "Millennium High School.”

A purple banner emblazoned with gold lettering hangs in front of the school.

"The second definition of millennium is any period of great prosperity, peace and happiness - a golden age," said Principal Ken
Yale, explaining the switch. Since the educational programs had been overhauled, it was time for a change, and the name perfectly captured the essence of the transition, Yale said.

Oakland Tribune - Thu - Sep. 24, 1981

In the 80s it was called

"Piedmont Continuation High"


From Wiki:


Millennium High School in Piedmont, California, United States is the Piedmont Unified School District's alternative high school. Millennium strives to help each student find the path that matches his or her unique interests, needs, and learning styles.

Classes are small, with about 10 to 15 students per class, so students can work at their own pace, and there is more personal attention than in a normal public high school. Students are encouraged to take advantage of their strengths. Credit is earned according to how much students accomplish in class, and they may also earn credits for outside activities, including sports or individual physical exercise programs, music and dramatic arts lessons and activities, employment, community college classes, and community service.

The Piedmont Educational Foundation supports a number of these programs through its grants program.

The class schedule is flexible, with different students' school hours varying. Millennium students can also take courses at Piedmont High. The curriculum is aligned with Content Standards for California Public Schools, and courses satisfy University of California "a-g" admission requirements.

In 2005, the school received a 709 API score, matching the state average exactly. It was the first year the school received a score. The average API score of the district that year was 920, an 18-point increase from the year before.

A significant difference between Millennium and Piedmont High School is that to attend PHS, a student must either prove residency in the city of Piedmont or have parents who work for the school district. Millennium is open to local students outside Piedmont, through interdistrict transfer.

Basketball stars Courtney and Ashley Paris are among notable alumni from Millennium.

George Lucas, the director of the Star Wars films, granted the school the right to use the image of the Millennium Falcon on a school sweatshirt, as well as to represent the school as its mascot, effectively creating the Millennium (High School) Falcon. Zak Filler '10 wrote to Mr. Lucas to request permission to continue with the move. "I am a big Star Wars fan," Filler wrote, "a bit on the nerdy side." According to Dr. Deah Schwartz, Filler's mother and one of the parents involved in organizing the project, as of February 5, 2009 about 50 shirts in all had been sold, to a student body that totals only in the 70s.

The Oakland Tribune - Mon - March 30, 1987

"Squashed in the corner of an old elementary school in "Baja Piedmont," as the city's lower elevation area is called, the high school is the last stop for kids who can't — or won't — make it at Piedmont High uptown."

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