Article via Nisqually Valley News
By Eric Rosane
Last November, graduates of Yelm Community School’s inaugural High School 21+ program were formally recognized by district officials. It was, for many, a moment to take in the extensive collaboration between the district, South Puget Sound Community College, Yelm Timberland Library and the South Sound YMCA. And for those that graduated, it was a moment to take pride in and celebrate.
“Great things happen when like-minded and passionate people come together and they believe in something bigger than themselves,” said Lisa Cadero-Smith, assistant superintendent of K-12 Education and Student Learning, standing beside 10 of the 17 graduates at the district’s November board meeting. “And that’s what you’re seeing tonight.”
Now, months later, the district is gearing up to expand the program into the summer and is working on further developing the relationships between these organizations to continue allowing a cheap, alternative program for community members to earn their high school diplomas.
The program is currently set on graduating 16 students at the conclusion of the winter session. Now going into the program’s third session, Cadero-Smith said not much has changed in the program — just the relationships between the organizations that put it on.
“While the format is the same, I think what’s changing is relationship,” Cadero-Smith said. “They’re deepening.”
Yelm’s High School 21+ program is a part of the district’s larger “Graduate Yelm” initiative, which aims to promote a diversity of pathways for students looking to graduate. Through the High School 21+ program, students take courses to satisfy the graduation requisites to earn a high school diploma. Yelm’s program offers onsite daycare during class sessions.
Cadero-Smith said she was able to attend one of the first sessions and speak with some of the students and their children at the daycare. While most of the students who attend the program are from Yelm, Cadero-Smith said they vary in walks of life.
“They vary. We have students from their 20s up into their 40s,” she said.
An information session for spring quarter classes will be held at 6 p.m. March 18 and 20 at the Yelm Extension School. Seat reservations can be found at spscc.edu and attendees are encouraged to bring either a high school transcript or prior employment history.
Spring quarter classes are set to begin in April. The cost is $35 per quarter.