By SVERRE BAKKE
The days of the one-room schoolhouse have returned to White Salmon.
On a corner of Columbia High School's back parking lot, a portable classroom has been sited to house the White Salmon Valley School District's alternative high school, the White Salmon Academy.
The academy, under the direction of former Henkle Middle School social studies teacher Jeff Lindstrom, held its first day of classes on Sept. 11. In previous years, local students (in grades 9-12) who chose to pursue an alternative high school education enrolled in coursework administered by the local WorkSource Skills Center, under a contract with the school district.
Lindstrom said the academy "is considerably different from the Skills Center" in that "students are required to attend five three-hour class sessions and perform 10 hours of homework per week while they maintain an 80 percent `B' average."
Students who fail to meet these requirements, he noted, are given a one-month probationary period "to realign themselves with the [academy's] attendance and academic standards."
Currently, the academy has 27 students enrolled--roughly 70 percent of its capacity of 40. Lindstrom said four more students, from neighboring school districts, will join the program on Oct. 2.
Superintendent Dale Palmer said White Salmon Valley "is trying to bring in kids from outside the district so we can offer them an alternative [high school] education."
Lindstrom, who credits the experience he gained at Henkle as preparing him for his new assignment, said the White Salmon Academy covers the same curriculum as Columbia High School.
"Students are required to pass English, History, Math, Science, P.E., Fine Arts, Careers and Independent Living, Vocational Ed and several electives," he explained.
In addition, students in grades 10 and 11 must pass three sections (Reading, Writing and Math) of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL); students in grade 9 must pass the Science WASL as well.
Moreover, prior to completing the academy's required coursework and earning a general education diploma (GED), students in grades 9-11 must complete a Senior Culminating Project.
"Personally, I see this program as having unlimited opportunities for the district, the students and myself," Lindstrom said.
"I envision the White Salmon Academy expanding into night classes to better serve the full-time employee," he continued. "And I foresee a summer credit retrieval format, which will allow the student at Columbia High to make up lost credits and remain on track to graduate with his/her classmates."
Funding for the White Salmon Academy comes from the student apportionment money the district receives from the state.
"We're keeping the revenue here in the district and paying our own staff to run our own program," Palmer said, and added, "Jeff is just the right person for this job. He's highly knowledgeable and the kids love him. I think he's going to do great things."