by George J Elbaum
Thornton High School is a public, alternative school with current attendance of 124 students, primarily in grades 11-12, and its continuation program is designed to provide the opportunity for students to earn academic credits and meet the requirements for a high school diploma. In a broader sense, Thornton’s mission is to build an educational community which would reintegrate at-promise students into educational, social and community activities and to develop feelings of self-worth, tolerance and community awareness, thus becoming productive and responsible citizens. To foster community involvement, for example, students must complete at least 75 hours of community service and earn elective credits. Students are referred to Thornton for a variety of reasons; each has his or her own story on what obstacle(s) got in the way of staying on credit track to graduate on time. With collaboration between the students themselves, families, staff, and community, the majority thrive at Thornton and earn enough credits to graduate on time. Several even end up graduating early, helped by smaller class sizes, increased teacher-student-family contact, individualized instruction, and the ability to earn credit in a variety of ways.
This was my second visit to Thornton, and it was arranged and organized by English teacher Fernanda Morales for 11th and 12thgrade students. As last year, she preceded my talk by leading the students in reciting the Daily Affirmation, and afterwards presented me with the school’s Citizen of the Year award (see photos below). Also present were Sandy McGurty, Special Education Paraprofessional, and math teacher Annika Kah.