Every year, as part of our United Way promotion, we put the names of all of our United Way donors into a hat and draw out a name. The winner gets a free day off with me as the substitute. This year’s winner is John Crockett who teaches the Twilight Program at Lake Forest High School. I’ll be filling that order soon.
Twilight is what we call an “alternative” to regular school. When Twilight was first created under the guidance of retired Principal, Dr. Betty Wyatt-Dix, it ran from 2:30 to 6pm each day. The room is set up like a computer lab. Students assigned to that program have available to them the entire high school curriculum on the computers in that classroom. That program has received several awards.
Over the years students have been assigned to that program during the regular school day as well. Some are there to retake a class they failed. Others are there for remediation. I am sure that Twilight has saved many a student from dropping out.
PEAK is another alternative for our high school kids. PEAK is operated for all Kent County and serves many of our discipline problems. Unfortunately they won’t take a student who has brought a weapon or drugs to school. There is limited capacity there and when we send them to PEAK, we lose contact with them. Unfortunately, I wish we had more. Not more Twilight and PEAK programs, more alternative programs.
High school today looks a lot like it did 50-70 years ago. Bells ring and students take classes that the community feels are important to future careers. Kids play sports, sing in the choir or build things in the shop. Sure there’s more technology and more choices, but it’s still much the same as most of us remember it.
Thing is, there are children who don’t do well in that environment. For some it is too crowded. For others, demands at home prevent them from having any interest in the social aspects of school. Some have got in trouble and PEAK won’t take them. Some just can’t seem to get out of bed. Others might need to work for self support or to support a family that has begun way to soon. Yes, some have babies.
That’s why I’d like to see the state someday invest in more alternatives. Some need a boot camp environment. Some need a small, sensitive environment. Some need a part time schedule and some need a full time schedule that starts at noon. The one thing they all have in common – they want to know that there is someone who cares about them. Some find that out easily enough.
But for others, we have to hope that we find them and let them know we care for them, long before they drop out. Because if we don’t. We’ll be caring for them the rest of their lives.