Ridgway High School a model for the state

  • Ridgway High School's Kimberly Jacobs works with Luke Fleming, 17, during the daily advisory period, Friday, February 1, 2013.

    (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Since her sixth-grade year, Aryana Ashton has bounced from one school to another across Sonoma County.

Taylor Mountain Elementary, Slater Middle, Santa Rosa Middle, Santa Rosa High, Lewis Opportunity, Elsie Allen, Rancho Cotate -- she's spent time at them all. At each stop, she never fit in, never committed to the curriculum and always left, she said.

That pattern has dropped Ashton woefully behind on credits: She should be a junior but is considered a sophomore because she has fallen so far behind.

"I regret it," she said. "It was time wasted."

But something changed for Ashton when she registered at Ridgway High School in Santa Rosa, a Santa Rosa City Schools continuation campus aimed at getting students lacking credits back on track to graduate high school with the 220 units necessary for a diploma.

Ashton said her academic situation and her look -- dyed hair and multiple piercings -- are accepted at Ridgway, which makes it easier for her to show up every day. And with credits earned for academic work and strong citizenship, she sees herself climbing back up to where she should be.

"Everybody likes me here. I like being here. It's cool," she said.

The school was recently named one of 13 model continuation schools by the state, singled out among California's 504 continuation high schools for its innovative programs to keep kids in school. More than 69,000 students attend a continuation high school in California.

Ridgway's daily advisory program, as well as its incremental credit accumulation structure that allows students to earn credits for academic performance and attendance in three-week blocks, were cited by the state Department of Education and the state Continuation Education Association, which reviewed applications.

Ridgway will be honored April 27 at the association's state conference.

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