When the average CHS student thinks of Carmel Valley High School, if it ever comes to mind at all, the student tends to believe that this is where the “trouble kids” go.
This could not be further from the truth. Carmel Valley High School is a place that creates a smaller, more nurturing, individual-based environment to help students earn a high school diploma and have a great experience in the process.
Students rarely transfer to CVHS involuntarily; they make the choice to go there, for several reasons.
“It’s generally for students who have issues with attending every day, students who are behind in credits or possibly students who just want a change,” says CHS assistant principal Tom Parry, who plays a role in helping some CHS students transfer to CVHS.
In order to do this, a student must be 16 and/or a sophomore. Students at CVHS need only 200 credits to graduate, instead of the 240 required for Carmel High graduates.
“You still have to do all the requirements…and it’s a valid diploma,” Parry explains. “It’s just that they take away some of the electives and things like that.”
Many students choose to transfer because of the unique environment Carmel Valley High offers.
“Carmel Valley High creates a positive environment that assists the students in feeling capable, competent and worthwhile,” says CVHS English teacher Therese Strutner, who used to teach at CHS.
Every student has an Individual Learning Plan, and, as Strutner remarks, “this individual attention allows students to progress at their own rate.”
With only 21 students enrolled, individual attention is easy to come by.
An example of this kind of environment is the welcome that CVHS student Hank St. Germain received when he transferred to the school this fall after spending the first quarter enrolled at CHS.
“My first Friday there, all the kids took time off of fourth period and gathered in a class to listen to me play guitar and sing,” St. Germain recalls. “A lot of the time while I was at Carmel High, I always felt like people were judging me for whatever reason because I didn’t exactly fit into any certain category. Valley does not run like that at all.”
In fact, the continuation high school runs very differently from CHS. At CVHS, the school day lasts from 8:30 to noon, giving students much more time to make their own schedules and do the things they want or need to do.
“Students here are quite diverse and have interests ranging from dirt-bike riding to hospital volunteering,” Strutner says. “Many students want to work and go to high school, and our school schedule allows for this combination.”
St. Germain certainly appreciates having more of his own time.
“I chose to go there because, like many people, high school life just wasn’t for me,” St. Germain confides. “I get distracted easily with big crowds, and Carmel High just seemed to take up so much time out of my day, whereas at Valley I am able to keep a good job and play my guitar all I want.”
CVHS students only have four periods a day, with a fifteen-minute break after second.
“Every Thursday,” St. Germain describes, “the whole school gathers for a life skills class to replace our third period and learn about different aspects of life. Last Thursday, we all had lunch together to learn how to properly act on a business outing.”
With fun activities like this, a smaller school environment certainly has its advantages.
“Now that I have been going there for a month,” St. Germain says with sincerity, “already I feel so much better about my life and the different paths I can take to success. I am truly grateful for the school and the opportunities it has given me.”