Paul W. Barada
A recent news release appeared in this paper that could have far reaching educational benefits for young people in Rush County. For a variety of reasons, a significant number of students decide to quit high school before they complete the coursework for their diploma. For some, it’s because the traditional school setting presents too many challenges for them. There are a wide variety of other reasons why some young people decide to leave school before earning a diploma.
To help solve the problems caused by not earning that diploma, Rush County Schools has created and just announced a new option for those who realize the value of opting back into the educational process. It’s called “Opportunity School.” This is one of the genuinely great ideas to come along in a long time in this community. The essence of Opportunity School is that its courses are structured so each student can work at his or her own pace, with a teacher on-site to provide assistance if and when it is needed. The new Opportunity School will be operated in the current Administrative Building at 330 West Eighth Street, Rushville.
Classes will be available on-line, and numerous subjects will be available. Participants will be able to complete general education diploma requirements, as well as take classes in specific educational areas they would like to pursue. In addition, it will be possible to take dual-credit classes that will count toward earning both a high school diploma and college credit at the same time.
Some young people wonder if earning a high school diploma is all that important. The simply answer is, “Yes, it is!” Those who decide not to finish high school are far more likely to be unemployed and in poor health, to live in poverty, and to be on public assistance. Earning that diploma will also impact earning power. The average income of a high school dropout was just over $17,000 per year in 2005. Those with a high school diploma earned nearly $27,000 per year during that same year. Generally speaking, the more education one has, the higher the annual income and the greater the likelihood of significantly higher lifetime earnings. So, is it worth taking advantage of Rush County’s new Opportunity School? You bet it is.
Some have asked about rules and regulations associated with Opportunity School. Well, there aren’t many. There are two blocks of instruction each day: from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Course work needs to be taken on-site and normal book fees apply, but free and reduced book fees will also be available. Finally, the goal is for every participant to complete the work for their diploma by the age of 21.
The major difference is courses taken at the Opportunity School are designed to let each student work at his or her own pace in an entirely different setting from the more traditional high school classroom. All that’s required to apply is completing the short Opportunity School Application form, which can be found on the RCHS Web Page, or requesting an application by calling 932-3901. The final step is an intake meeting with an administrator, counselor, teacher, parent and the prospective student. Once admitted, each participant will only have to attend one three-hour session per day, either the morning session or the afternoon session, allowing for maximum flexibility for everyone.
Opportunity School is a great new way for young people to earn their high school diploma and to get a start on college or other post high school training, and it avoids some of the issues some students have in the traditional high school environment.
Another plus that Opportunity School offers is the chance for students to take additional classes to prepare for college. If, for example, a recent high school graduate makes the decision to attend college after graduating from high school a year or two ago, Opportunity School is an excellent way to take a few refresher classes in preparation for doing college level work. Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that Opportunity School can be made to fit the educational needs of every young person who has made the decision to continue his or her education, but it’s not much of a stretch!
Young people can take just one course at a time away from the stress of the traditional high school routine, and help will be available on-site for those who need it. Doing the course work is self-paced. According to high school Principal Matt Vance, Opportunity School is an chance to learn in a new way.
“It’s founded on the premise that all students can learn and succeed when provided with an educational environment that meets their needs and interests. Opportunity School was created to provide young people with a place where they can experience academic and personal success in a new way,” Vance said.
As superintendent Dr. John Williams puts it, “We live in a rapidly changing world. As we change to meet the needs of our students, the addition of this program is one more reason why Rush County Schools are a great place to be!”
For more information contact Vance at 932-3901 or e-mail inquiries to OpportunitySchool@rushville.k12.in.us.
That’s -30- for this week.