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Bridge Academy focuses on bringing students back to earn their diploma

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — School District 27J is investing in a new alternative education program to help students earn their high school diplomas.

Bridge Academy, which will be launching on Sept. 2 at Brighton Learning and Resource Campus, is a new blended online program designed for students ages 17 to 20 who have dropped out of high school but would like to come back to earn their diploma. 

Bridge Academy will utilize a blended online model, similar to the one at BOLT Academy, and students will attend classes from 7:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Students will be able to work toward completing the credits for their diploma at their own pace during school as well as being able to work online, outside of school. The program is across the hall from BOLT Academy and will be overseen by Principal Jennifer Alexander.

“The major difference is going to be on our focus,” Bridge Academy Coordinator Kate Hamilton said. “We have a very strategic group of kiddos that we want to target and knowing that the kids that we’re going to serve often have different life events that are happening, our goal is really to be responsive to what their needs are and being flexible with their academic aspirations.”

She said they’ll also be focusing on transitioning to post-high school careers, career planning and college planning. Students will also have access to support services and the resources they need to help them be successful outside of the classroom.

According to Hamilton, the district is currently reaching out to potential students by making phone calls and home visits to personally invite students to the program. She said the district will be partnering with Colorado Youth for A Change who will be assisting them with drop out prevention and recovery.

“We’ve had a number of students express interest in the program but we have not yet finalized enrollment,” she said, and added they plan to enroll 15 to 30 students. 

Intervention Services Director Kevin West said district officials know they have not been able to meet the needs for many of the district’s older students and young adults and that they have either disconnected or dropped out of schools.

“We have large comprehensive high schools which do meet the needs of the vast majority of students. Once students get off-track, whether through academic reasons or life circumstances, a more personal, smaller environment that has the ability to be a little bit more flexible academically, and supporting is important,” he said.

West said the district not only wants to serve these students but absolutely has the responsibility to serve them. He said programs like these are possible, and can be self-sustaining, because the district can use the per pupil funding it receives from these students and put it directly back into the program.

“We’re committed to have the funding that comes in from these students support the sustainability of this program, so we didn’t take new monies to do that,” he said. “We used resources we already had and we know it will sustaining through the funding that comes in. I think that’s important to people.”

For more information about Bridge Academy or to enroll, call 303-655-5472 or email Kate Hamilton at khamilton@sd27j.org.