No one I know loved high school. But maybe if we had the option of going to class when we wanted (does 7 a.m. sound a little early to anyone else for physics?), and choosing which classes to take when, it might have been different. For 25 years, Halstrom High School, with offices in San Diego, Mission Viejo and Vista, as well as an online branch, has taken a different approach to high school education and has turned many of its students into success stories.
“We offer an individualized situation for students that need it,” director Liz Halasz says.
Halasz says students come to Halstrom for many reasons, whether they are athletes who need to complete coursework while training, students who have been home schooled in the past, or simply students who can’t succeed in a traditional high school because of learning disabilities, scheduling conflicts or emotional issues. Halstrom caters to them all.
“We see a little bit of everything here,” Halazs says. “With everything being one to one — one teacher, one student — our style is accessible to all types [of students].”
Students spend about 45 minutes per week with their teacher and then go home with 4-5 hours of homework (due at the next “class” meeting), which they must complete with a masterly level of 80 percent to proceed to the next level and eventually pass the course.
Halazs says full-time students take anywhere from four to six classes per week, based on their available schedule and graduation requirements.
“For students who want to go to college, all of our classes are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, University of California-certified and NCAA approved,” she says.
With concurrent enrollment, students can also take classes at Halstrom while attending traditional high school, and the credits are completely transferable.
“We see more of the student who wants to remediate grades or the part time student,” Halasz says. She adds, however, that many of their students attend Halstrom for all of their high school years.
A semester’s worth of classes is 17 courses, 15 of which students must pass to advance to the next semester. Courses also accelerate or slow down based on students’ needs.
“This way, students can get part-time jobs or internships, or they get involved in volunteer work, and it allows them to explore other avenues,” Halazs says.
And as far as the social component of a traditional high school, Halazs says the students she works with don’t miss it.
“Some seminar classes are done in groups, and [students] get to interact with each other there, but we hear all the time that they don’t need that part — they just want to come here, get their work done, and go on with their lives,” she says.
Halstrom works for teachers, too. The flexible class schedules allow teachers to continue teaching at local colleges or substitute teaching during the rest of the week.
With open enrollment, students can start classes at any time during the year and finish courses at their own pace.
“Our model doesn’t fit every student, but for those who it does fit, it saves lives and will serve the students long into the future,” Halasz says.
Halstrom High School — San Diego
9988 Hibert Street, Suite 202
San Diego, CA 92131