|VALTS graduates reach 500 mark|
|March 13, 2014 Jerry Purvis|
Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - VALTS graduated seven students on Tuesday. From left are Sadrick Munoz, Desiree Colleado, David Hoover and Keeley Gloria. Not pictured are Josie Carollo, Allan Cress and Marisela Lopez.
During a ceremony on Tuesday, VALTS, the Valley Alternative Learning Transitioning School, reached a milestone – 500 graduates since the school was organized in 1998.
First-year Principal George Schlothauer said VALTS was organized by the Scottsbluff, Gering and Mitchell schools designed for students that needed an alternative program in order to graduate.
“Some students may already be parents and need flexibility to work or be home with kids,” Schlothauer said. “Others might need one more quarter to finish but for one reason or another need a different placement. There are lots of reasons students come here to finish high school.”
VALTS has 42 open positions for any given quarter, but they can take more if necessary. And with enrollment numbers can fluctuate. The school has also expanded to serve nine area high schools: Scottsbluff, Gering, Mitchell, Minatare, Morrill, Banner County, Bridgeport, Bayard and Kimball.
Schlothauer said VALTS operates on a half-day schedule and offers the core curricula of math, language, science and social studies. Students can also earn credit by working. All graduates must earn the required number of credits from their home district. They will also be graduates of their own school district.
Four teachers, one in each core area, teach classes at VALTS and also teach the online courses offered throughout the Panhandle.
In addition to their course work, students volunteer to help out with worthy projects in the community. Recently, they visited the West Nebraska Veterans Home in Scottsbluff. Students are also raising funds for a field trip to the Natural History Museum in Denver.
“I’ve always had an interest in alternative education,” Schlothauer said. “I started with an alternative school in Lincoln and also taught at the juvenile detention center in Gering.”
That was followed by 11 years in the Gering school district, ending as principal at Lincoln Elementary School.
“This has been an enjoyable opportunity and I’ve has so many of them,” he said. “We teach the students a sense of community. Our smaller setting has been very helpful to many of them. We give them a sense of community because a majority of them will stay here.”