School News andamp; Notes: Cold Stream Alternative School
October 7, 2008
A vital public school system is one that addresses a regions diverse educational needs. The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District does just that at its Cold Stream Alternative School, which offers independent study curriculum for high school students in Truckee and on the lakeside. Its important for parents and students to have alternatives and options, says Jane Loomis, Cold Stream Alternative School principal. Weve gotten exceptional support from the school board since it began in 1994. I know parents appreciate options and thinking out of the box is important.The school has classrooms adjacent to Sierra Mountain Middle School, as well as classroom space at Rideout Community Center, southwest of Tahoe City. According to Loomis, the school currently has 35 full-time students, as well as 20 to 25 students from North Tahoe High School and Truckee High School who pick up extra credits through Cold Stream Alternative School. Loomis explains the schools independent study format is a perfect fit for several different student populations. More than half of Cold Streams students are full-time teens who flourish in an independent study environment. Additionally, seniors at either North Tahoe High School or Truckee High School who are in danger of not graduating can supplement their class load with Cold Stream Alternative School curriculum. Conversely, students who want to graduate early can take additional credits at Cold Stream. The schools independent study curriculum is ideal for students who are involved in competitive sports, such as ski racing, which demands frequent out-of-town travel. Cold Stream also fills an important niche for students involved in the Regional Occupation Program and the Truckee Fire Science Program.Loomis says full-time students are required to meet with certified teachers for a specific amount of time each week. The teacher will discuss curriculum and assignments, as well as administering tests. Independent study is an opportunity for individualized education. The state is very strict on the laws and regulations regarding independent study, Loomis says. In addition, there is a stringent board policy and there are accountability audits.She cautions that independent study is not for everyone.It requires students to have a lot of responsibility and self-motivation, Loomis says. For students who work well independently its a great option.Students who fall short on the independent study requirements will be exited from Cold Stream back into the traditional high school. Cold Stream students are offered full access to North Tahoe High School and Truckee High School classes, programs and school events that might not be offered in the alternative school. Loomis says some students opt to exit the alternative school in their senior year, so they can graduate with their friends. Now in its third year, Cold Stream also collaborates with Sierra College to offer a Fast Track option. Students are offered an opportunity to earn college credits while in high school toward an associate degree or career certification. The program is also an opportunity for students to accelerate their high school education or recover lost credits.For more information about the Cold Stream Alternative School, log onto http://www.ttusd.org or call 582-2640.