At his old high school, Josh Turvey found himself struggling with claustrophobia and anxiety as he made his way through halls packed with bigger kids. He admitted this struggle to friends, and they told Turvey about their school: Summit View High School. One of Turvey's teachers at Prairie High School confirmed that Summit View has a unique learning environment. "I tried it," Turvey said. "And I loved it."
Battle Ground Public Schools offers a variety of learning environments--traditional learning, homeschooling, an academy and alternative schools--to suit the needs of all students. Summit View is one of the alternative schools, serving self-directed learners, working teens, at-risk students and teen parents who have unique and diverse educational demands. Originally a credit-recovery program at Battle Ground High School, Summit View moved to its current site around 1995 and became an official high school in 1997 after much success serving students. Summit View's program assists students in earning credits and transitioning into a traditional educational setting or preparing for life post high school.
About one third of Summit View's 420 students come from outside the school district. The school draws students from all over the southwest Washington region. "We're a school that tries to help students achieve their educational goals while they work through significant personal challenges," said Summit View Principal Bill Penrose. "For some students, it meets the needs and circumstances they have at that time. For some students, it's a second chance."
It was on his first day at Summit View as a junior that Turvey knew he found the right high school. He felt more relaxed and calm than he ever did at Prairie. "Summit View is such a small school; there's no drama," Turvey said. Not only did Turvey, now a senior, overcome his claustrophobia and anxiety at Summit View, he also found a place that accommodates his needs. When life outside of school conflicts with his academic schedule, Turvey can contact Summit View and turn in any homework that is due at a later, more convenient time. The high school's extended hours offers Turvey a stress-free and normal school environment.
Still, Summit View is a unique program in many ways. The high school offers students outside the normal age range an opportunity to graduate. Students can work towards their diploma through the end of the school year in which they turn 21. Before they enroll, though, potential students must spend at least one semester at a traditional high school and earn two credits before transferring to Summit View. Some exceptions are allowed.
Students can work at their own pace on flexible schedules and receive one-on-one sessions with their teachers on a first-come, first-served basis. This personal accountability leads Summit View to attribute student success to the student's self-motivation and responsibility. Principal Penrose comically remarks that one student might be taking a test at a table in the teacher's office while another is meeting with her, and yet another is waiting in the hall for a chance to talk.
"Essentially, this program was originally developed to meet the needs of kids who need something different," Penrose said.
After graduating high school, Turvey would like to become a diesel engineer and someday work with Union Pacific. But for now, he is getting the support he needs at Summit View. "Summit View has amazing teachers and staff," Turvey said. "I would definitely rank it among the top schools in Clark County."