Alternative ed boosted in Walla Walla

The School District is relaunching its Opportunity Program this fall.

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WALLA WALLA -- Students in Walla Walla Public Schools will have another option for earning a high school diploma starting this fall.

The district is re-establishing the Opportunity Program, an off-site, contract-based alternative learning program geared for high school students needing to earn more credits, looking for more scheduling options, or for fifth- and sixth-year seniors. Located at the district's office, 364 S. Park St., the program will offer flexible hours, basic academic and elective courses, and weekly one-on-one time with instructors.

The district's former Opportunity Program, housed at 919 S. Second Ave., was closed shortly after Jim Sporleder took over leadership of the district's alternative programs in 2007. Sporleder consolidated the programs at Lincoln High School, formerly Paine School, to include the Opportunity Program.

Lincoln, known as Lincoln Alternative until recently, was reclassified as a more traditional high school last year, losing the alternative designation. But alternative learning options were still offered through the district. Contract-based learning options have been available to Lincoln and Walla Walla High School students needing credits.

Former Opportunity Program teachers Tom Porter and Jerry Quaresma are returning to the program to serve as teachers and student advisors.

The relaunching of the Opportunity Program is just one of several options local students have for earning diplomas. Besides traditional options at Wa-Hi and Lincoln, and the contract-based learning offered at those schools, there is also the Alternative Education Program at Walla Walla Community College geared for older students needing more flexibility with their schedules.

With the relaunching of Opportunity, the district hopes to reach students who are at risk of slipping from the district, and to reach out to old students who may have dropped out but are still in a position to earn a high school degree.

Qualifying students will have an individualized written plan and take between one and three classes. Classes will be one hour per day per class either four or five days per week, in a learning lab setting. A student could attend between four and 20 hours per week, with a work commitment at home as well.

Student are also expected to attend a 30-minute, one-on-one teacher appointment each week for each class.

Students will meet weekly and monthly goals, rather than quarter or semester start and end times to earn credits.

Opportunity will start with the first day of school Sept. 4. For more information, contact Porter at 526-6785 or tporter@wwps.org.

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