Helping students succeed who are not making it in their home schools.
Four years ago, Salt Lake City school officials became convinced that the city needed an alternative high school program. Convinced that many families were no longer able to provide the support systems for their children that they had in the past, officials were concerned about increasing numbers of at-risk students in the schools. These students were often from single-parent families which moved frequently, requiring students to change schools. Many were failing, or dropping out, and increasing numbers were running afoul of the juvenile justice system.
Salt Lake Community High School was born -- a system of small, neighborhood, "satellite schools" offering educational opportunities to school-age students, dropouts, and adults from the intermediate school level through high school graduation. The school is designed to meet the needs of students who are not succeeding in traditional school settings, and school-age students are selected based on referral from their home school.
With its emphasis on meeting the individual needs of students and preparing them for the world of work, the Community High School offers a wide range of programs, including intermediate and high school programs, adult education programs in both the day and evening, high school completion programs for young parents, including child care, programs for youth in custody, and a directed studies program for students unable to deal with regular schools or to attend during regular hours because of employment, personal, or family needs.
Salt Lake City administrators cite several advantages to the multicampus, "satellite" approach to providing alternative education. Open entry policies and small classes make it easier to meet the individual needs of students, and the students, themselves, have to travel shorter distances to find a suitable program. At the same time, students benefit from working intensively with fewer teachers and other adult authority figures and in a generally accepting atmosphere.
Obviously there are some problems. The rotation of teachers and services through the four major sites can upset stability and some of the equipment and facilities leave a lot to be desired.
But the benefits far outweigh the problems. Each year, Salt Lake Community High School students and staff take part in two impressive events. The first is a commencement exercise at which students who have successfully completed the high school diploma are awarded scholarships to the postsecondary institution of their choice. The scholarships are funded by partnerships with local firms and service organizations. The second is an annual Christmas party at which students and staff serve a Christmas meal for the elderly and the homeless and Santa Claus passes out presents for children under the age of eight. In 1993, 800 people enjoyed the benefits of the Christmas program.
For additional information:
James P. Anderson
Salt Lake City Community High School
180 North 300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84103