Alternative pathway to a better, brighter future

Tanazia Deloney, reporter

Watching the RHS announcements, seeing a student walking down a corridor as their peers and teachers surroundinf and congratulating them, as they ring the bells of congratulation. Many students fail to realize the true meaning of this program.

“The Alternative Program allows students an alternate route to graduation with flexible scheduling, online and teacher-led courses, along with a family type atmosphere for students who are serious about earning a high school diploma,” Assistant Principal Joshua Amyx said.

There is certain criteria established by the Indiana Department of Education that is met and followed.

“The Indiana Department of Education is the organization that provides us with the grant money to effectively run the Alternative Program,” Amyx said. “The IDOE [Indiana Department of Education] has certain criteria for admission into an Alternative Program is based off students and their needs.”

The Alternative Program isn’t for everybody, but it is able to work around complex schedules.

“It depends on the student,” social studies teacher Matthew Holeva said. “A lot of students are unsuccessful whether its a phobia, or issues with following the standard protocol, but we have a different latitude. It’s different and it works for students and may not work for others. We have a lot of flexibility with schedules when they have other things that happen outside of school either first three or last three periods of the day.”

It’s a way for students to concentrate, learn at their own pace and to be away from any sorts of distractions.

“It’s more straight to the point with no distraction and it’s easier to focus,” junior Jake Brandenburg said. “I feel like I do better down here than I did in the main floor classrooms, you can have a month to get things done, get credits faster, it takes more time and effort to finish something on the main floor.”

This program isn’t just a way for students to graduate early, it is a way for them to be able to learn in an environment where they are able to concentrate and can get help with their work.

“This program is for students to catch up on credits, work independently at their own pace, and teachers are more available when they need help,” math teacher Scott Seibel said. “This is for students who don’t succeed in larger classes and the students feel comfortable in smaller classes rather than being in larger classes.”

Students are in control of their learning and how much they desire to learn.

“It is more effective with you being able to work at your own pace,” senior Dakota Wilcox said. “You’re not rushed to finish your classes. However, the goal is a module a day. Our saying is ‘A module a day, keeps Amyx away.’”

Accomplishing modules are ways for students to gain missing credits.

“A module is like a unit upstairs within the modules there are several topics and takes them through the material and they have to pass benchmark quizzes, they have to take a test and pass 70% or higher [passing] to gain their credit,” Holeva said.

This program may be different in some aspects, but they function just like regular classes.

“While we assess the same academic standards as other Core 40 courses, the feel is different,” Amyx said. “The biggest reason for this is that students work on one or two courses at a time, depending on how many sessions they are enrolled in. This allows them to get through courses in a timely manner and keeps them moving forward academically.”

The studet-teacher ratio is great because it allows studetns get te help they need without having to wait.

“The program is a smaller student-teacher ratio (15:1) per state guidelines,” Amyx said.

The program mostly relies on students to have self-motivation and the willpower to be successful.

“We want students to become self-motivated and successful learners who are respectful of peers and teachers/staff,” Amyx said. “At the end of the day, we want our students to be prepared with a diploma and a plan for their future.”

The students feel as though they are part of a family while getting a diploma.

“The individual becomes part of a family and have enough one-on-one time with any of the teachers,” english teacher Emily Philpot said.

Students are able to succeed when they couldn’t do so elsewhere.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to succeed when they weren’t’ majority of the students were unsuccessful on the main floor, not a lot students can’t do normal schooling,” Holeva said.

This program isn’t easy. Students must have the mentality, strength, and self motivation.

“There is a misconception that it’s easy but it’s not, it’s more self-direction, we are here to make sure you are successful and we are here to push you to achieve your goals and receive your credits. Part of it is that it’s hard to understand,” Holeva said. “A lot of time the ones who are unsuccessful.”

Students can see progress in themselves as can the teachers.

“This program works because it allows me extra time to complete assignments at my own pace,” senior Jahmikel Gallins said. “With smaller class sizes there is more one-on-one time with the teachers and they push as far as your credits.”

This program doesn’t just focus on credits it focuses on the students and their needs.

“It does focus on making up lost credits for those who are behind,” Amyx said. “For other students, it’s about flexible scheduling due to life circumstances. And yet for others, it provides a family type atmosphere with a smaller learning environment with the self-paced instruction that reduces stress and anxiety.”

The Alternative program has similarities and differences to the main floor curricular.

“One unique thing about the program is that we provide our own electives such as P.E, Business Math and we package food bags that are given out to the students on Fridays by Mr. Bailey’s classroom,” Philpot said.

The students learn the same materials but in a different manner.

“Down here it’s different, they must prove mastery in the class we make sure they understand the material,” Holeva said. “They cover the same material, standards, and curriculum by the state of Indiana is met here too, it’s different opposed to the give and takes from a teacher.Its quicker and each module has a pretest and is based upon the score they can test out of portions/lessons of a module 90%+ and they can get credit and pass onto the next module.”

When it comes to modules the teachers have set expectations that the students must fulfill.

“We have daily, weekly, and monthly goals. We put them on contracts to make sure they are focused,” Holeva said. “We have daily expectations, weekly social and behavioral expectations and ultimately is that they are going to be successful and are able to get the diploma.”

The students who have joined this program either chose to be in this program or didn’t have all of their needed credits.

“I decided to join after I found out that the counselor I had from freshman to junior year had my credits messes up,” Wilcox said. “She had said that I was ahead, however, I was actually behind going into my senior year. Therefore the Alternative Program was the only option for me.”

Others joined to save their grades and could do better.

“My grades were suffering and I decided that I do a lot better in credit recovery classes and I knew that coming down here I would d a lot better than on the main floor,” Brandenburg said. “I feel like it helps me understand the work better and the teachers are very helpful.”

Being in larger classes has more distractions. The Alternative program allows students to learn in smaller classes with little to no distractions.

“I’m down here because I feel like I can work better and concentrate more, I didn’t feel comfortable in the larger classes and being down here it lets me be in my own zone and work at my own pace,” junior Tori Pope said.

When they jpoined the program they realized how different it was from classes on the main floor.

“The classes are kind of different, for the most part, they’re computer-based,” Wilcox said. “However there are some book and writing portions. The program that we use is the same as the credit recovery program.”

The major goal of the program is to watch all other their students succeed.

“It’s a very basic goal to be successful and to graduate,” Holeva said. “Majority of the students have their own doing of not getting the credits and moving along. But it’s a different setting to earn the same diploma general and core 40.”