Described as a unique and exceptional high school educational program, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Personalized Project-Based Learning pathway is currently accepting admissions for the 2020-21 school year.

Parents of current eighth-grade students who attend Lincoln Middle School, John Adams Middle School, SMASH and Malibu Middle School, along with eligible 10th-graders living in the SMMUSD boundaries are invited to attend one of the many upcoming information sessions and tours scheduled for February and March.

Similar to last year, the campus, located at the new Barack and Michelle Obama Center for Inquiry and Innovation, is looking to accept only 100 ninth-graders and a limited number of 10th-grade students, so prospective students are encouraged to apply soon. The application deadline is March 20, 2020, district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said in a news release.

“The district’s objective is for all students to graduate ready for college and careers from schools that are safe, socially responsible and academically rigorous. This is accomplished at PPBL through a self-reflective, shared system of accountability that consistently uses culturally relevant best practices to maximize equitable student outcomes,” Pinsker added, mentioning the program is designed to serve students of all abilities, interests, aspirations, and socio-economic backgrounds. At PPBL, students engage in internships and multi-disciplinary projects based on their interests, which allow them to graduate with a Samohi diploma and real-world experience that has prepared them to thrive in any two- or four-year college or career.

During its first year of operation, the district’s PPBL pathway had close to 50 students enrolled, according to Pinsker. The district originally had around 100 children signed up but some choose not to move forward. Some parents determined it was not a good fit for their student because of music or art responsibilities, while other prospective enrollees might have wished to see how the first year went before committing to the program.

“My son was hesitant at first… (but) through this program, he has found unyielding support by each of his teachers — each of them encouraging his ideas and passions to help guide his learning experience while getting the required rigorous education that we expect from high school,” said Cindy Short, a parent of a PPBL ninth-grader.

“The PPBL pathway is a place where students excel through inquiry, doing, and reflection. Students and teachers collaborate in personalized, student-driven, passion-based, experiential learning,” Principal Jessica Rishe said.

Tours are currently scheduled to occur on campus from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, as well as March 13 and March 20, according to district officials. Those who attend the upcoming sessions should expect to learn about the curriculum, rollout plan, location of the program, application process, availability of electives, extracurricular activities and more.

Parents and local residents can also visit bit.ly/2SiSDX3 to learn more about the program. Additionally, brochures are available through all SMMUSD middle schools and online at samohi.smmusd.org/PPBL/.

brennon@smdp.com