Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Self-Paced Public High School Graduates 16 in November

Independence High School Graduates Sixteen Area High School Students
Independence High School News Release 12.01.2008

Sixteen area high school students graduated from Independence High School this November - one of the strongest ever pre-Thanksgiving finishes by students motivated to deliver a much appreciated "graduation present" to their families for the holidays. Independence, located in downtown Alpharetta, is a Fulton County open-enrollment public high school which offers differentiated and teacher-assisted self-paced learning. The school processes graduation completions for each individual student within a few hours of completing the State of Georgia graduation requirements. Sixteen students have made it to the next level of academic achievement, their high school diploma, in November alone.

These Independence graduates have donned the traditional cap and gown to walk the halls in joyful same-day mini-graduation ceremonies on almost a daily basis this November. The graduation march plays in the background and each student's departing comments are read over the school's intercom. In addition, graduates may choose to receive their diploma from Independence or their original high school (Alpharetta, Milton, Roswell, Chattachoochee, Centennial, Northview, Riverwood or North Springs). They also have the option of choosing to participate in the May graduation ceremonies at both Independence and their original school.

Student Stories

"I got off to a bad start at my first few years of high school because I was sick so much. I didn't know how I was going to catch up to graduate with my friends. Independence made it possible for me to graduate and I will be able to participate in graduation cremonies at my home school this May -- with my original class and my friends:, commented one recent Independence graduate. Another wrote, "I couldn't stand listening to teachers talking so much at my old school. I am ADHD and I just wanted to get my work done. At Independence, I was able to work with freedom at my own pace and compete courses much faster. I was able to get indivdiualized attention and help from teachres whenever I needed it."

The School

Four years ago, the decison was made to break Independence High School away from the student population involved with discipline issues. Since then, any student who would rather work at his or her own pace in a stress-free environment can apply to enroll in this small, safe and comfortable accredited public high school to complete their Georgia high school requirements.

A typical Independence student might be excellent in Math, for example, but may need extra time in English. Independence allows this student to work at a faster pace in Math to complete Math courses rapidly. With his or her English classes, on the other hand, the student is encouraged to work at a pace with which he or she is comfortable. Independence High School graduations are evidence that this approach is a very effective breakthrough for many high potential students.

Like one of the recent graduates quoted above, some students get behind in their traditional school because they have health problems which cause them to miss significant portions of a semester or school year. Independence self-pacing allows these students to catch up and graduate on schedule. In addition, of concern to many medically fragile students, traditional high school classes march on while the student is recovering from any illness. At Independence, the medically fragile student doesn't have to worry about returning from an illness to find him or herself "out of it" or far behind. The student merely returns to Independence when their health improves, and the work is there from them to complete from wherever they left off. They can, of course, be provided work-at-home packages during their illness as well.

Other teenagers simply feel lost in larger traditional school environments -- with over two thousand students and maximum class sizes in bigger schools. Social pressures may be overwhelming, too. Independence has smaller class sizes and an enrollment averaging 300 to 400 students -- just like the high schools many students' parents enjoyed when they were teenagers. The environment is designed to be simpler and calmer. Students who need assurance that they are valued as individuals find Independence an excellent place to finish up their high school careers and move on to successful post-secondary education.

Today's economy, and the financial situations of most families, make it impossible for the great majority of students to afford a private school alternative. High potential students drop out simply becasue the traditional public high school environment and style is not a good fit for them. Fortunately, a public school alternative such as Independence high school exists for these North Fulton Students and their families. Sixteen new November High School Graduates are thankful for the opportunity.

More information:
Lee Nicholson
CTE Department Chair
86 School Drive
Alpharetta, GA 30009

Thank you to Susan Hale, Communications Manager, Fulton County School System for submitting this information to Georgia Graduation Stories blog.

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