State honors continuation schools in Valley
Desert Oasis and Aurora high schools were recently honored by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson by being named “Model Continuation High Schools” this year.
Desert Oasis in El Centro and Aurora in Calexico are two of 32 schools in the state given the recognition that was published Monday. “These model continuation high schools provide a space where students can feel a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence and receive strong educational support,” said Torlakson in a statement. “Creating an academically challenging yet encouraging school climate can help turn an at-risk student on the verge of dropping out into a high school graduate prepared for a future career or college.”
According to the state Department of Education, in the 2014-2015 school year, there were 460 continuation high schools reporting an enrollment of 60,027 students. However, CDE enrollment demographic reports from prior school years indicate that the total number of students served by these schools over the entire year averaged more than 116,500.
The press release from Torlakson’s office specifically highlighted three high schools from the state, including Desert Oasis.
“Desert Oasis High School in El Centro has a counseling staff that is exceptionally dedicated to preparing students for academic opportunities after graduation.
The school has cultivated strong partnership with local community colleges, hosts college orientation and financial aid workshops, and allows dual enrollment classes on campus,” stated the press release.
Desert Oasis Principal Fernando O’Campo said the school’s focus on working with other education institutions is what’s helping students be successful.
“Desert Oasis High School has flourished over the years as our staff has provided various opportunities to all our students to be college and career ready after graduation and be productive members of our community,” O’Campo said.
The school has implemented AVID courses, partnered with Imperial Valley College, Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program and even has a Mock Trial team.
“We will continue to bring exceptional programs and opportunities to our school and continually strive for academic excellence and sense of belonging,” O’Campo said.
Aurora Principal John Moreno said Aurora is committed to helping students be ready to be successful after graduating.
“We are always striving to improve our instructional program and provide our students with the best opportunities for post high school options and at the same time deliver a rigorous academic program tailored to fit their needs,” Moreno said. “We feel that a high school is measured by what its graduates become and we like to see our students enjoy success and take advantage of the many opportunities available after high school.”
Desert Valley High School in Brawley and Imperial Avenue Holbrook High School in Imperial were named to the list in 2017. Desert Valley and Aurora were also named to the list in 2014.
Continuation schools provide a high school diploma program for students ages 16 through 18 who have not graduated from high school, are required to attend school, and are at risk of not completing their education.
The schools were selected based on a comprehensive and competitive application process that involves effectiveness, assessments, and use of data. The process included a peer review panel and on-site visit.
The Model Continuation High Schools Recognition Program is a joint project of the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Continuation Education Association (CCEA).
The program started in 2012 and honors continuation high schools for the comprehensive services they provide at-risk youth through instructional strategies, flexible scheduling, guidance, and counseling. More than 53,000 students attended the state’s 441 continuation high schools during the 2016–2017 school year.
The 32 schools selected as Model Continuation High Schools retain their designation for three years and will be recognized at this year’s CCEA State Conference in San Diego on April 27-29.