Healthy Alternative Schools and Community Partnerships Initiative
Pacific High School
Pacific reports increases in attendance rates, increases in the number of credits earned each year, increases in the number of Health/PE class offerings, increases in the professional development opportunities in health made available to staff, and increases in teachers’ reported comfort level with teaching health curriculum as outcomes related to their involvement in the Alternative Schools Initiative. Highlights from Pacific’s efforts include the provision of a Parenting Support program that helped parenting teens stay in school and connected them to vital community support services like public health, TANF, and Daycare Assistance, completion of a Sitka-wide sexuality education training (“Too Hot to Handle” curriculum), 2 health classes being offered, and a collection of health and safety enhancing innovative outdoor classes were also conducted. Pacific High’s Health Teacher received training on the Fourth R Healthy Relationships curriculum and will be teaching it next year. Pacific High School also conducted a Psych 101 class led by a licensed psychologist, acquired the evidence-based Why Try curriculum for implementation in 2011-2012, provided teen parenting support, acquired PE equipment, conducted a broad spectrum of health enhancing high interest physical activities, and strengthened student transportation services to bolster attendance. In the 2011-2012 school year, Pacific High sent a student leadership team and two staff to Washington state to research the expeditionary learning model, completed a strategic planning exercise facilitated by the Association of Alaska School Boards and involving 17 community agencies to set priorities for the next school year, and significantly expanded its nutritional program. Under this program, students cooked school lunches and earned food handling cards. Additionally, Pacific has applied for a Community Transformation Grant to compliment the work already being done. If Pacific is awarded the grant it will allow the student cooking program to work with local producers. Finally, Pacific purchased metal and wood carving equipment with grant funds and partnered with the Southeast Alaska Cultural Center, where elders mentored students in the art of carving and produced wood poles and bracelets.
During the 2012-2013 school year, highlights from Pacific’s efforts include positive outcomes from a school-wide emphasis on healthy lifestyles: a new Health class, an increase in number of students participating in healthy activities (physical activity, tobacco reduction, better nutritional choices) and an increase in student gym use. A part-time paraprofessional was hired and trained to help with Responsibility Planning and Individual Planning, resulting in decreased problem behaviors. A partnership with Youth Advocates of Sitka (YAS) has been created, and in the 2013-2014 school year, a full-time clinician will be on site to provide professional mental health services. YAS will also provide training and support to implement the Transitions to Independence Process (TIP), a student-centered behavioral health needs identification and futures planning model. Pacific High students embarked on a two-night camping adventure to a remote Forest Service Cabin, partnering with Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) and Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA). In order to continue these activities, the grant helped purchase new gear and health curriculum materials (bicycles, backpacks, raingear, indoor physical education equipment). A new partnership was formed with the Sitka Sounds Science Center, which will allow students to do a NOAA marine debris research study in the fall, combining a camping trip with academic work. All staff participated in the Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention training, 5 staff attended the National Alternative Education Association Conference in Atlanta, and two staff participated the Expeditionary Learning Schools Site Seminar in Massachusetts, all of which focus on behavioral health and fostering school success.