For many teens, success in a conventional high school setting does not come easily. Graduating on time, or at all, is difficult. Many times, challenges—ranging from poor academic performance to personal adversity—prevent them from earning a diploma within four years. However, Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) programs for high-risk youth are giving area teenagers more opportunities to earn their high school diplomas.
At a graduation ceremony hosted by the Sierra Health Foundation on June 1, a record 44 students from SCOE Community Schools celebrated their achievements and received high school diplomas. Principal Lisa Alcalá was assisted in presenting diplomas to the students by County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon; Deputy Superintendent Al Rogers, Ed.D.; and County Board of Education Trustees Heather Davis, Greg Geeting, and Jacquelyn Levy. Brian Bedford, President and CEO of Align Capital Region, provided an inspirational keynote address.
SCOE provides alternative educational programs for students from various Sacramento County school districts. Districts may refer students who have been expelled or display behavioral problems. Students receive additional support and placement, counseling, and the opportunity for career exploration and Career Technical Education (CTE) courses.
The ceremony celebrated the success of students who were able to complete their diplomas in four years, plus some who needed extra time to graduate. SCOE launched the Senior Extension Program in 2016 to re-engage students who are in jeopardy of dropping out of high school or have been out of school and want to return to complete requirements for their diplomas. Students are referred to the program by their home districts and receive personalized education plans, allowing them to earn the credits required for graduation.
The program provides students more time to earn their diplomas. It involves a combination of independent study and classroom work, allowing students to earn credits while still meeting work and family obligations that would otherwise have prevented them from completing their high school education. Senior Extension is currently offered at SCOE's North Area Community School and Gerber Jr./Sr. High School. It will also be offered at Elinor Lincoln Hickey Jr./Sr. High School soon.