The name “Alternative School” can generate negative feelings and presumptions, but this is a misconstrued representation of the St. James Alternative School and the students who attend there. The students who attend the St. James Alternative School are great kids who have fallen behind for one reason or another and are working toward earning a high school diploma. The school offers many impactful programs aimed at improving student success through working, attending college, and volunteering. The program is designed to give students who have fallen behind on academics a chance to get caught back up and graduate on time. The St. James Alternative School strives to make sure students understand exactly what it means to be a positive contributor to society once they graduate.
In addition to achieving the required credits toward graduation, students attending the St. James Alternative School are involved in many activities to help improve the chances of success in the real world. All students in attendance must participate in a job skills course that covers everything from applications and interviews to cooking and dining etiquette within its curriculum. Through this course, students learn how to manage money, budget, use and balance a checkbook, and how to save money. When a student finishes the course, they will have created a portfolio full of useful job oriented documents to use for future career opportunities.
The St. James Alternative School has graduated 150 students over the past five years, and this success is driven by the numerous staff members of both the alternative school and high school who are involved in creating an appropriate pathway for each student. The high school college advisor works with the alternative school juniors and seniors to ensure anyone wanting to attend college has taken the ACT and filled out the FAFSA. She provides the students with advice and expertise which guides them toward making quality educational decisions. Many of these students have gone on to college, joined the military, and some have chosen to go straight into the workforce. There have been police officers, construction workers, nurses, and even teachers who have received a second chance, which was necessary to become successful through the program.
The alternative school program’s success comes from building relationships and trust with students in hopes that they will know that someone cares. We are fortunate to have a “students first” attitude in leadership at the Alternative School Building. Alternative School Director Tim Metcalf and teacher Dusty Craft display exemplary leadership skills in preparing and implementing successful educational practices for the students under their care. Stability and consistency are often missing elements from the world of an alternative school student’s life. The St. James Alternative School strives to provide the stability and consistency necessary to promote student success.