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Column: What is alternative about the ALC?

By Doug Brands, District 518

WORTHINGTON — I would like to take this opportunity to share some information about District 518’s Alternative Learning Center (ALC).  Many people in the community have asked me, “What is the ALC?” since I became the principal in July. The ALC is similar to the high school, but offers alternatives in hours, schedules and incentives.

What is alternative about our ALC? The ALC is considered a credit recovery school, which means the main focus of our school is helping students make up classes that they may have failed at another school. The number one way that we help students gain credits is by offering an extra period each day. Worthington High School runs on a four-period day, while the ALC runs on a five-period day. This means that a student can earn two extra credits toward graduation each year. Night school classes are also offered throughout the year to earn even more credits. Students from Worthington High School and surrounding districts also attend our night school classes.  

The ALC can also offer adjusted schedules for students who are parents or who are working up to age 21. There are currently 89 students attending the ALC, and a number of those students work the second or third shift at JBS or take a bus to one of the other local plants or farms in the area. Some of these students choose to only take two, three or four classes during the day to allow them the chance to get some sleep before or after their shift.  

The ALC also offers incentives to help encourage some of our most at-risk students to stay in school and be successful. Each week, students can qualify for an early dismissal on Fridays.  Students who are passing all of their classes, have had no unexcused absences and have not had any office referrals are able to leave at lunchtime. The other students have the opportunity to get individualized help from their classroom teachers during the afternoon.

Students at the ALC who meet all of the district’s requirements for graduation are allowed to graduate early. There have been 12 students who have earned their diplomas already this school year! Currently, we have another five students who could qualify for graduation at the end of third quarter. This has definitely been the most rewarding part of this position so far. The ALC hosts one commencement ceremony each spring, and all of the ALC’s graduates are invited to participate at that time. ALC graduates also have the opportunity to participate in the larger ceremony at Worthington High School in May.

I am glad I have gotten the opportunity to join the ALC family this year. The school is full of amazing kids who have faced some unbelievable struggles during their lives, but are finding success through the alternative educational pathways available at the ALC.