Natomas charter school marks 10 years, celebrates first-ever homecoming

October 9, 2015

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A lot has changed in the 10 years since Natomas Pacific Pathways (NP3) charter school first opened. For starters, the school now serves 1,100 students in grades 6 through 12, compared to just 82 students 10 years ago.

The school prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary with a first-ever homecoming celebration, featuring a flag football game on Thursday, October 15 and a homecoming dance on Friday, October 16.

According to NP3 Principal Tom Rutten, there are two things that have remained consistent over the 10 years that has contributed to the school's success - stability of staff and high-quality teaching. In fact, only one teacher has left the school in 10 years.

NP3 delivers a law-themed curriculum and has been recognized for its efforts in civic education. The school was named a California Distinguished School and received the Civic Learning Award from the California Judicial Branch and California Department of Education two years in a row.

At the high school level, students take a law class each year. About 20 percent of the students indicate an interest in pursuing the law as a career. But, whether students decide to pursue law as a career isn't the point. Rutten acknowledges the academic benefits that studying the law provides, including analytical skills as well as literacy and writing skills.

"A law-themed curriculum actually has an impact on the school culture," Rutten said. "The students see their role in society and the importance of being an active citizen."

The idea was the result of a partnership with McGeorge School of Law to develop diverse leaders of the future. Since a majority of leaders come from a legal background, the need to develop diversity in the study of the law is important, according to Rutten.

"We knew we needed to develop leaders of the future who actually look like the people they are going to represent," Rutten said.

NP3 added a middle school four years ago, growing the school to a 6-12 educational program. Rutten points out that having the middle school is a huge benefit for the students, preparing them for success for high school and beyond.

The first graduating class of NP3 had three students - this year's graduating class has 157 students. Rutten still knows the names of the three students in the first graduating class and he intends to deliver on a promise he made 10 years ago.

"I promised the kids that I would host their 10-year reunion at my home," Rutten said. "I figured I could handle that since we are only talking three students!"

Both the flag football game on October 15 and the homecoming dance on October 16 will be held at Natomas Pacific Pathways, located at 3700 Del Paso Road in Sacramento.