By Paul W. Barada
---- — Some time ago I wrote about a new initiative being undertaken by Rush County Schools. It’s called “Opportunity School.” Well, we’ve finished the first semester; and, thus far, it’s been a smashing success. What follows is excerpted from a brand new brochure produced by Marianne Scott, the school corporation’s information officer.
During the first semester of operation, the Opportunity School had 13 students. What’s great is they earned, collectively, a total of 68 credits! It takes 48 credits for one student to graduate; so, in just one semester, these 13 students earned more than enough credits for one student to graduate in four years! The latest information I have is that two of those 13 students will earn their high school diplomas within the next four to six weeks. Were it not for the Opportunity School, none of that would be happening.
For those of you who may not have read my previous column of glittering prose about the Opportunity School, let me tell you a little about. First, “Rush County Schools is committed to the premise that all students can learn and succeed when provided with an educational environment that meets their needs and interests. Because the traditional school setting presents challenges for some students, Rush County Schools has created another place where students can experience academic and personal success in a new way…”
Opportunity School is designed for those who have opted out of high school prior to graduation. Now they can decide to go back to school and complete their high school diploma. As with most things, prospective students must apply and be accepted to Opportunity School before classes begin. Application forms are available on line at http://rchs.rushville.k12.in.us/ and then prospective students follow the Opportunity School link. Prospective students can also apply at Rushville Consolidated High School and at the Administrative Building at 330 West 8th Street in Rushville.
Sometimes prospective students wonder if it’s all that important to earn a high school diploma. Yes, it is! Dropouts are more likely than high school graduates to be unemployed, in poor health, living in poverty, and on public assistance. The average annual income for a high school dropout in 2012 was just over $20,000 per year compared to an annual income of $30, 627 for a high school graduate. Annual income increases to $56,665 for college graduates, according to the United States Census Bureau. So, yes, the more education you have, the higher the income level you can expect!
Opportunity School classes are held at the Administrative Building located at 330 West 8th Street in Rushville. There are two blocks offered each day: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Opportunity School follows the regular school calendar. Students are responsible for their own transportation. Parking, however, is available on-site.
One of the most important questions often asked is: What’s the major difference between the Opportunity School and going to regular high school? The major difference is students are in a school setting that has a flexible schedule designed to work with students. Courses are structured for the student, who then works at his or her own pace. In addition, on-site assistance is available if and when the student needs it. The only expense involved is an annual $25 dollars fee for materials and technology.
Numerous classes are available for every student, and every student will have the ability to complete general diploma requirements or to venture into a specific subject geared toward a future job skill.
Another frequently asked question is whether or not attendance is required in order to complete course work? Yes. Students will be assigned to one or both class sessions, and course work must be done on site.
Here’s another important question: “Will I be able to be with my class during regular graduation ceremonies?” Yes! If a student meets all the requirements for graduation.
Yet another question is: “If I’m 17 and need to take classes that would take me past the age of 18, is that okey?” Yes, it’s OK. The goal of Opportunity School is to be sure students complete the work for their diploma by age 21.
Finally: “May I begin taking courses mid-year at the start of the second semester? Yes, if a prospective student’s application is accepted for the program at that time.
As Marianne’s excellent brochure points out, if you have other questions, they have the answers for you. All that’s required is calling the high school at 932-3901.
What’s more important is Opportunity School is a self-paced program designed to meet each students needs in a different setting from the traditional high school classroom environment. Yet more important is the chance for local young people to earn their high school diploma and significantly increase their chances for a better life and a higher standard of living – not to mention the pride that comes from earning a high school diploma. If you’re interested, either check out the website mentioned above or simply call the high school. Opportunity School is a great way to return to school and help secure your future!
That’s –30—for this week.