By Kelly Munn, League of Education Voters State Field Director
There are schools all across this state that are making dreams come true for their students.
I had the opportunity to visit one of these schools.
New Horizons is an alternative school in Pasco. They serve juniors and seniors who are on a different journey towards graduation, perhaps a slower journey, perhaps a more thoughtful journey, perhaps more zig and zag, alternative.
The students come from all kinds of backgrounds, but what they have in common is resilience, life experiences that have matured them, and despite so many obstacles, they are determined to meet their life goals. This school is helping to get them there.
The staff surrounds the students with a sense of belonging, a sense that they contribute to their education community, that each of them matters.
They are located on the Columbia Basin Community College campus. Their High School is a separate building on the campus. They have an infant child care, and once a baby turns one, they go to the campus child care.
One of the many school slogans is that they prepare students for “graduation and…” This can be 4-year, 2-year, certificate programs – students are prepared to both graduate and to go on with their education.
Every day the students are on the college campus. The math teacher is a professor at the campus, they take some Career and Technical classes at the campus. The tour guide talked about how the students are made very aware of the fact that if they pass the Smarter Balanced Assessment with a 3 or 4 score, they can attend the campus with no remediation. The students are well aware that if they score a 2, they can take a Bridge to College class, so they can attend the campus. Every day, they are part of a college community and a college-going culture.
“Staff has high expectations of their students, and they hold them accountable”
Staff has high expectations of their students, and they hold them accountable. They can do this because they are not only trained in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), but also are taught how to use the knowledge with students. They use Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) tier 1 strategies to positively impact the culture of the school, and they have an 8-week restorative justice program.
New Horizons set the visit up in a very interesting way. We did two hands-on art projects: we made wreaths that took about 45 minutes, and we made a watercolor painting that took about an hour. While we were using our hands, we could talk at our tables. Each table had 2-4 students participating. Because we had so much time, we could actually talk to the students, and they were amazingly candid about their challenges, about the obstacles they face, and continue to face, but they expressed such hope for their future and such clarity on their responsibility in making it to “graduation and…”
It was clear to me the students believe they will “graduate and…”
The staff and the students made me believe, too. Like schools all across this state, New Horizons is making dreams come true.
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