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Alternative Education Program Offers Choices to at-risk Students

RE-2 Adminstration

Lamar high school students who are academically at-risk will be enrolled in an alternative education program this year. While they will still follow the weekly schedules of their counterparts, about 10-15 students, mostly juniors and seniors, will attend classes at the former Lincoln Elementary School where they will attend classes held by Anthony LaTour.

“This program will give those students an opportunity to graduate with a full diploma,” LaTour explained, while sitting in the former library at Lincoln School on North 10th Street.  Several years ago, the school was closed by the RE-2 District, but was later repurposed to serve as headquarters for the Project HOPE program and will now host classes for the new program.   “Some students will have to remediate, cover some former topics,” LaTour said, adding, “I’ll use some earlier test scores to create an individual program for them using a new curriculum program we’ve added.”  He said the classroom instruction will help bolster weak spots, while offering motivation programs to heighten interest in the courses.  At the same time, students will be able to participate in sports, FFA, DECA and take the same elective courses offered at the high school.

The program is optional and LaTour has spent the past several months meeting with parents and students, explaining the benefits of the program as an alternative to dropping out of school. “Parents were asking me, ‘How can you help my kid be successful, what will be the educational path they can follow to graduation?’ he explained.  LaTour said the expectations will be the same as before, come to class, be prepared and be held accountable for their educational workload.  “Students have been told they’ll need to push themselves and show some daily progress.  This isn’t designed to have them sit around the not contribute.  We’re working to get them to an acceptable passing grade at the end of the year.  I want to see them graduate with more than just a D on their report card, more like a 70% grade level is what we’re going to achieve.”

He added that the new program will combine the elements of the Crossroads Human Development course. Motivation will be an important factor, “We don’t want to see them just give up and quit if they come to a rough spot in their classes.  The core of the program will be to have them do their best work and concentrate on the tasks at hand, not get distracted.”  LaTour said he’s received a lot of assistance from the HOPE staff.  “Lori, Anita and Gary have been tops, helping through the summer with some training sessions, even though they’re off for the summer.  They show up and have helped me with some referrals for students.”

The program is funded through the federal government and the local school district. LaTour said he’ll be working on sustaining grants and a professional grant write has been identified who can assist and has a good working knowledge of southeast Colorado.  LaTour stated, “The more options we can find for assistance for the students, the better will be their outcome.  We’re going to make contact with other family support systems in the county so we can be ready to provide assistance on several levels when our doors open on August 15th.”

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarEducationFeaturedSchoolSportsYouth

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