Amarillo ISD Prepares to Move North Heights Alternative School to Former AACAL Location | KAMR
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR / KCIT) – Starting in August 2022, the move of what officials from the Amarillo Independent School District are calling the district’s best-kept secret is expected to happen, expanding the possibility for more students to complete their studies and graduate from high school with a diploma.
During its last meeting, the Amarillo ISD Board of Trustees approved schematic drawings of the Amarillo Regional Advanced Learning Center (AACAL) refurbishment to accommodate the North Heights Alternative High School, serving as an extension of the facility, currently located at 607. N Hughes St.
Established in its current location for about seven decades, North Heights Alternative High School is currently home to many programs, including the PASS program, an alternative high school program for juniors and seniors to graduate on time, as well as the Crossroads program, a relatively new credit recovery program that serves freshmen and sophomores. The campus also serves GED students as well as students from across the district who must continue to learn after being disciplined for some reason.
“The North Heights school has been there for years. It is an amazing place. Primarily, we had served the kids in a program that served our seniors and juniors… We now serve, in addition to our sophomores and our freshman, ”said Justin Ruiz, principal of North Heights Alternative School. “Obviously, to increase the need that we have here in the building, and we’re really at a point where we’re expanding… we can certainly use the extra space that the AACAL location is going to provide us right now. “
According to previous reports from MyHighPlains.com, this remodel will add advisor offices to the AACAL facility, hosting all programs that encompass North Heights High School. Programs previously hosted within AACAL have recently moved to the district’s new AmTech Career Academy.
Ruiz said that having more space in the AACAL facilities will include larger rooms, as well as the possibility of having more technological equipment, not needing the multitude of portable buildings. that the campus is currently using. But ultimately, this movement creates the opportunity for the campus to be more flexible as the needs of students in the district arise over time.
“What this says to our students and our community, and our district as a whole, I hope it says that we are really working to meet the needs of all of our students across our district, and are really trying to create the good atmosphere, to have the right facilities, so that we can continue to grow and expand our program, ”said Ruiz. “It’s going to give us the opportunity to learn, to know how we continue to evolve as educators, what we can do to best meet the needs of our students… as we continue to grow. to grow. “
David Bishop, the deputy superintendent of Amarillo ISD high schools, said as the campus continued to reach more students, it had grown too large for its current facilities. By moving it to AACAL, the district is able to consolidate the programs under one roof, thus becoming a campus community.
What Bishop stands out about the students who make up the North Heights campus community is how it is made up of students from all parts of Amarillo ISD. Thanks to North Heights, students come together to complete their studies in an alternative setting, which was highlighted at the first North Heights launch ceremony, an event that took place at Dick Bivins Stadium earlier this year.
“When you look at their pom pom: it had red, it had orange, it had blue, and it had black. It had all of our four full high school colors, which means that’s part of what we do. It’s important, “Bishop said.” Not all students graduate on the same schedule. Some graduate in three years. Some may take five years, but thanks to an alternative campus, that’s us. helps meet those special needs… Life has so many curves for students and for families and for parents, North Heights allows us to meet those needs so these students don’t drop out.
While the new location will allow the North Heights Alternative School to have more space, Bishop said whether or not the campus grows will depend on the needs of the students.
“That’s what’s needed to meet those needs, so whether we grow in leaps and bounds (or) have a smaller class a year, that’s okay,” Bishop said. “If it’s smaller here, we serve them in our traditional high schools. If we have a greater need in a larger school, we will have room to take care of the high school students. Looking into the future as well, there may be a point where we need something for at-risk college kids, and that allows us to have that path. “
This opportunity for flexibility helps students, as well as the district as a whole, in the long run, Bishop said.
“What we don’t want is for a kid to drop out and if they drop out of school, they drop out… that’s just not an option,” Bishop said. “So having North Heights allows us to have a place where a kid who just can’t sit in a 50-minute, eight-hour-a-day class… just doesn’t work (for them)… I mean life is coming. North Heights allows kids to go to school (and) graduate from high school. It’s a very, very well-kept secret.
Bishop said the district is making plans to reuse the building that currently houses the North Heights Alternative School. No official plan has been released.
For more information on North Heights Alternative High School, visit its campus webpage.