While Tucker County High School may be one of the state’s smallest high schools, there are many great programs available to students who attend. Most of the community is aware of the bigger programs, like our athletics, the STEAM initiative, and all of the Career and Technical Education programs, but many in the community might not be aware of the small but fierce ALC, or Alternative Learning Center, which was moved from the BOE office to the high school at the start of this school year.
The ALC’s main function is to support students who are at risk of dropping out, who have earned days of in school suspension from poor choices, and who are just not able to find success in the traditional classroom environment.
Every year, high schools across the nation are evaluated on many different criteria, but one of the main ones is a school’s graduation rate. This is measured by the number of students who receive a diploma within four years of high school education. In a county as small as ours, it takes only one to three students dropping out each year for TCHS to not meet its graduation requirement. Knock on wood, this year alone the ALC has worked to get three seniors on track to graduate and not drop out of school, and another three juniors have stayed in school due to the efforts of the ALC. Between 2013-2016, 38 students have received high school diplomas because of the hard work of those students and the ALC.
This is important for our county and our state in the long run because studies have shown individuals who receive a high school diploma will earn drastically less money, face higher unemployment rates, are more likely to be incarcerated, and will cost taxpayers $292,000. That final number consists of the fees from prison, as well as the loss of revenue from income taxes. (Brezlow, Jason. “By the Numbers: Dropping Out of High School.” PBS. September 21, 2012. Accessed April 04, 2017.
Think back to your days in high school. Chances are you may have made a choice or two that were not your wisest decisions. Not much has changed, and students still at times do not follow the rules and wind up in some hot water. Sometimes those behaviors are so out of line that some time in ISS (In School Suspension) is warranted. With the ALC being at the high school, it is easier for teachers to get work to those students and consequently, students have not fallen as far behind in his/her coursework during the time spent in ALC. This has been an issue in past years, and has led to many students struggling more on his/her return to the regular classroom.
We recognize that not all people are the same. We do not like the same things, do not act the same, and certainly do not all learn the same. Here is another way that the ALC works to ensure all TCHS students have the best chance at success in high school. Students who cannot function in a traditional classroom are able to attend the ALC and get the needed credit hours to graduate. These individuals can take many routes to get from point A to point B, but the end goal is the same for all: meet the West Virginia graduation requirements and earn his/her diploma with the rest of the class.
Again, all these initiatives work to keep students successfully on track to walk across that stage in May, shake Dr. Campbell’s hand, and walk off with that magical piece of paper that will make the rest of their lives (and ours to a degree) just a little brighter and a little easier in the long run. All thanks to the TCHS ALC!
Tucker County High School