Doing whatever it takes to help every student graduate has been a goal of Humboldt County School District (HCSD) for as long as anyone can remember. Though overall efforts have changed over the years, the graduation goal remains constant.
The first alternative education programs were started to provide “at-risk” students an alternative to dropping out of school. Former 6th District Court Judge Richard Wagner was instrumental in getting the first alternative ed programs housed in Lovelock, Winnemucca and Battle Mountain.
In Winnemucca, students attended the first alternative ed programs in one of the old Sage Heights military buildings. Later, Wagner was able to secure a former office building from a mining company that had ceased operations. He then facilitated a partnership with the county and the school district to place the building next to the Leighton Hall juvenile facility.
Adult Education was handled for many years in cooperation with the Job Opportunities in Nevada (JOIN) office. The late Jackie Kearns headed up that collaborative venture.
Two years ago, Humboldt County School District took the program over. The name was then changed to “Options” with Adult Education. HCSD leadership believed it made sense to house Adult Education, Distance Education and Alternative Education programs together in the same building.
It took some extensive remodeling but now the former PASS Alternative Ed building has a separate space to house each individual program. The current HCSD Options program brings those three former programs together — each with a little different focus — but all with the same goal of ensuring that no one’s future is limited by the lack of a high school diploma.
The Adult Ed program at Options works with students age 16 and older, some of whom are HiSET testing (High School Equivalency Certificate) in order to waive some core credits and get back on track to an Adult Diploma.
Others are finishiing credits they may not have been able to complete during their High School years. Those students can earn an Adult Diploma, which is an official Humboldt County School District Diploma.
Some in Adult Ed are working toward a High School Equivalency (HSE) Certificate. Although and HSE is not sufficient to qualify to enlist in the Military, it is enough to qualify students to enroll in some Universities.
Students working for their adult diploma and HSE use computer curriculum in the A+ Learning System, which is individualized according to each student’s needs.
HCSD’s newest program, Distance Education, formally began at the onset of the 2014-2015 school year. It is designed for students who live far out of town on farms and ranches or for students who have not been successful in the traditional school setting. It is designed as an independent computer-based curriculum where students progress at their own pace and take their formal assessments at the Options Center.
When one class is completed, they immediately begin another and are required to complete an assigned number of courses each semester. Ultimately these students will receive an Albert M. Lowry High School Diploma. The Distance Education program is free of charge and is HCSD’s method of providing “Home-School Education” through the school district.
This school year, one of HCSD’s directors, Amy Nelson, is overseeing the Options Programs. A new instructor, Belinda Bell, has also joined the staff.
Options Instructional Aide Andrea Kelley joined Aide Militza Galvan and the Options team last year in 2016. Kelley and Galvan share a background in ELL (English Language Learners.)
“Our team at Options is happy to introduce an ELL program for those who are in need of the High School Equivalency, Kelly said. “Lessons and tests are offered in Spanish for our Spanish speaking community.”
Humboldt County residents who have found that the lack of a high school diploma is standing in the way of a better job, a career they want or further education for more opportunity don’t need to wait any longer. There are Options through HCSD. The Options building is on Fairgrounds Road. The phone number is 623-8279.