Black Rock High School offers a rare look at the ways that poverty can be tackled from within public education. Black Rock is one of about 500 alternative public high schools that comprise California’s Continuation Education Program, the mission of which is to identify students who are at risk of dropping out of conventional high schools and re-engage them in completing their secondary education. Dropout rates are inextricably tied to poverty. Students from the bottom 20% of all family incomes are five times more likely to drop out of high school than those in the top 20%; and Black Rock serves a community where the poverty rate is 18.12% versus 14.88% nationwide.
You can help make a difference in the every day lives of Black Rock High School Students by donating to the school's Necessity Fund.
Continuation schools like Black Rock have been the most effective program in California’s dropout intervention efforts for almost 95 years, but despite their success, little public attention is paid to their methods or to the problems they address. These schools also suffer from a lack of uniformity in their practices. In some cases, continuation schools have become punitive environments––repositories for the so-called ‘bad kids’––and whether those kids achieve is less important than removing them from the mainstream schools. However, in March of 2015, Black Rock was named one of 29 Model Continuation Schools in the State of California, recognized for providing innovative programs and comprehensive services to students who may otherwise be at risk of not graduating. Black Rock High School is a dropout intervention model for both California and the country at large.
For Principal Vonda Viland and her staff, coping with the traumas her students suffer in their home lives takes precedence over force-feeding them facts and figures. At Black Rock, it is understood that it might be necessary to focus an entire year on just keeping a student in school and trying to understand his or her obstacles before expecting academic progress. Patience, respect, and compassion are the tools employed to build a foundation for student success. Realistic preparations for the work force and for life’s responsibilities outweigh planning for further higher education: these students can pursue a college education only if they first know how to support themselves.
To help nurture the future of Black Rock High Students by making a donation to the school's Scholarship Fund.