Nearly 70 people attended a meeting last night to discuss plans for a proposed $24 million high school complex in Cambridge.
Two new buildings are planned, to be constructed around the War Memorial Building on Cambridge Street.
The complex will be built according to the "career development concept" advanced by School Superintendent Alflorence Cheatham. The concept envisions five "mini-schools" or "houses," each including three related "occupational clusters."
The proposals call for the demolition of Rindge High School, and the creation of 81,000 feet of park space. One building will be constructed on the present site of Cambridge Latin School, and the other on the edge of the park at Cambridge Street.
In a prepared statement read at the meeting, Cheatham said that the mini-schools would focus on groups of related occupations, such as health, personal services, and homemaking, and construction, transportation, and manufacturing.
Cheatham said that the chief virtue of the mini-schools would be to prepare children for "the trauma of 'occupation obsolescence'" by training them for "manifold occupations, related to their personal interests and abilities." Cheatham noted that occupation obsolescence may force children to change jobs several times during their lives.
"Utilization of our constellation concept," Cheatham said, "prevents the establishment of artificial boundaries based on achievement ranking (or) I.Q. status."
Cheatham said in an interview at the meeting that he hoped the mini-school concept would "put pressure on higher institutions" to change the criteria by which they evaluate students.
He added that individualized instruction will be provided by limiting the number of students in each mini-school.
Cheatham said that the mini-schools would be part of an educational sequence beginning in kindergarten. By the sixth grade, students would begin an "intensive exploratory" period, including some time spent in mini-schools during summers and the regular school year. Students would begin to make their occupational choices during this exploratory period.
Last night's meeting opened with a videotaped message from Cheatham, and then broke up into small groups to discuss different aspects of the plans. Suggestions from participants were compiled by members of the High School Building Steering Committee, composed of parents and school officials.
The meeting marks the start of a series of hearings on the project that are open to the community.
At the gathering, Cheatham said that the new complex had first been proposed in 1970, and that the idea had been dormant until he took office in 1972.
The current plans were submitted to the City Manager by architect Eduardo Catalano "early in 1973," Cheatham said. He added that the plans are due to be complete by March 15.
Cheatham said that no date has been fixed for completion of the project