“Arena High is an alternative high school within the district that serves 35-70 students every year,” said Plotkin. “A key component of the high school is that it is flexible, adaptive, and supportive with a focus on creating a sense of belonging for students. The school is set up to allow for more one-on-one time with the teachers and they are dedicated to building strong relationships with the students.”
Dr. Plotkin announced that Arena High School received official notification in February from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) that the school has earned a six-year accreditation, the maximum possible accreditation award which reflects the school’s positive outcomes. WASC is the institution responsible for accrediting all public and private schools in both K-12 and post-secondary settings throughout the western United States.
A non-traditional school, Arena High is a virtual and in-person learning environment that incorporates an individualized programming structure with counselors available 12 hours per week to help students with their needs. Two teachers and a special education instructor provide academic support to the 38 currently enrolled students who are in the classroom each weekday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is also an independent study option for eligible students where he/she works remotely from home and is required to meet one time per week with a teacher at a set day/time. The school uses Apex Learning online curriculum combined with a wide array of enrichment supports for students. The Apex Learning curriculum offers a vast catalog of courses that include Advanced Placement and Honors courses. The instructional design of the curriculum presents concepts in different ways, including interactive activities and animated explanations to keep students engaged and motivated.
Arena High School is designed to provide an online learning environment for students with customized needs and life goals, who are intent on accelerated learning, need credit recovery, are dealing with health issues, have dual enrollment or are simply looking for a smaller school setting. The curriculum encompasses differentiated instruction to meet individual needs.
“We’re there to support student’s growth and the way we do that is by providing a holistic experience for them,” said Plotkin. “When students leave Arena, we hope that they are empowered and that they have the skills and tools they need to be successful.”
Arena High offers two California standard-embedded curricula for students: 1) A-G type credits for students interested in attending a University of California, California State University, out-of-state or private school, or 1) curriculum to earn a diploma for students who want to enter the workforce after high school with the possibility of pursuing further education at a community college.
Dr. Plotkin reported that Arena High School achieved a 100 percent graduation rate in 2019 with three juniors graduating early. Students report a strong sense of community and belonging. According to a student survey, 84 percent of students agreed or strongly agreed that at Arena, “there is a teacher who always wants me to do my best.” Plotkin cited the dedication and commitment of Arena’s teachers, Ron Roebuck, Gene Williams, and Juli Blois for creating this sense of belonging through the relationships they form with each student.
“I never would feel unsafe at this school; I just feel cared for and supported,” said Arena High Junior Donna Byers, who was interviewed for the report. “I’m sure when I’m an adult I’m going to look back and think, ‘thank goodness for Arena, because it really did help me.’”
Enrollment at Arena High School is currently open for all high school grade levels. Resident enrollment for 2020-2021 begins March 16, 2020. The inter-district permit application for 2020-2021 is available online now at www.elsegundousd.net.