Olympic Continuation High School Earns Special Award

Olympic Continuation High School Earns Special Award
Posted on 03/15/2021

CONCORD, Calif., March 15, 2021 – Olympic Continuation High School in Concord was named one of the state’s 27 Model Continuation High Schools for 2021, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced earlier this month.

Olympic Continuation High School, part of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, was among only three Bay Area schools to receive the award. Del Valle Continuation High School in Livermore and San Andreas High School in Larkspur were the other two honored in the region.

“Student attendance and engagement in distance learning during the school closures has been difficult—especially for students who struggled with attendance issues before the pandemic,” Thurmond said. “These model schools have been able to keep at-risk students on track using social and emotional learning, mentorship programs, restorative justice practices, and other innovative methods. Through the work of dedicated teachers and administrators, model continuation schools provide the students they serve with new academic opportunities that can change the course of their lives in high school and beyond.”

While teachers at Olympic offer students a rigorous curriculum based on state-adopted standards, they also focus on student engagement. Principal Lynsie Castellano said focusing solely on academics doesn’t work for the populations she serves at Olympic.

"Traditional school settings don't work for a lot of students and we pride ourselves on providing an alternative approach to school, focusing on relationships, mental health and flexible options,” Castellano said.

There are more than 400 continuation high schools serving 50,000 students throughout the state, ages 16 through 18, who have not graduated from high school and who were at risk of not completing their education. Students who attend continuation high schools must spend at least 15 hours per week at school and also receive guidance and career counseling, with some programs offering independent study, job placement services, and concurrent enrollment in community college.

The MCHS Recognition Program is a collaborative partnership between the California Department of Education and the California Continuation Education Association Plus. The program honors continuation high schools for the comprehensive services they provide at-risk youth through instructional strategies, flexible scheduling, guidance, and counseling. Not only does this involve operating and supporting their own exemplary program, but MCHS-recognized educators make a commitment to support and mentor their peers in other local educational agencies. The MCHS were selected based on a comprehensive application process that involved assessments and data. The process included a peer review panel and on-site visit. This year’s visits were conducted virtually due to the pandemic.

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