Alternative help students rise to challenges

The Bremerton School District opened the doors of the new Phoenix Academy and officials hope the school will attract students who might not otherwise graduate.

The school is to be housed in the former Francis Haddon Morgan Center, which the district will rent from the Department of Social and Health Services, and will offer a contract-based alternative learning option for ninth- and tenth-grade students who have stopped attending school.

Bremerton School District Spokeswoman Patty Glaser said the goal of the academy is to bring such students back into an educational environment with alternative options.

“Our goal is to re-attract students that were in the district but not currently going to school,” she said.

Students of the Academy will attend a session from 9 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. or an afternoon session from 11:45 a.m. to 3:35 p.m. Monday through Friday with each session including four class periods.

Credits will be offered in English, math, social studies, science and career technical education. The academics involved would offer all required curriculum to prepare students for state assessments and students would earn credits through testing.

Glaser said the flexibility of the schedule could help students who are facing challenges beyond their education.

“A lot of the kids we are talking about are potentially couch surfing,” she said. “And we know that their first thought every day is not getting their education. For some students a half day is all they can commit to, especially if they are working to support themselves or their families.”

Kristen Morga, principal of the school as well as Renaissance High School in the district, said the Phoenix Academy had been created to meet the needs of such students and others who struggle.

She said other students, such as those who have fallen behind in school and some students with medical conditions, could also find the flexible schedule helpful.

While the Renaissance High School offers assistance for older students, Morga said the Phoenix Academy would assist younger students.

“We just saw a need for the ninth- and tenth-grade program,” she said. “It is similar in structure in Renaissance, but for younger students.”

Morga said ninth grade is the year students begin earning credits for graduation. She said the school met a need that Renaissance did not but said she felt the two schools could work in tandem for many students.

“I think some kids from Phoenix will go to Renaissance,” she said. “My guess is they will be confident in an alternative setting and a transition to Renaissance would be easier for them.”

Morga said the Phoenix Academy was centered on life skills and flexibility but also prepared students for a transition to schools such as Renaissance where college and career preparedness are primary goals.

The school will offer smaller class sizes and focus on attendance, attitude and academics. Terms will be four weeks in length and Individual appointments to evaluate progress will be required at the end of each term.

An advisory class of teachers and peers will be held each week to assure proper progress is made by students.

Morga said The Phoenix Academy will be accepting registration for students throughout the entire year and she hoped students would take advantage of the opportunities the school offered students.

“Students are always welcome back to school, we are happy to see them,” Morga said. “Especially our kids that deal with homelessness or drug impacted families or go hungry. They need our help seeing the path to their future.”

For more information on the Phoenix Academy or to register for the school call 360-473-1003.


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