Tulsa Union's Alternative School recognized nationally

Thursday, November 18th 2004, 12:37 pm
By: News On 6

A Tulsa school is recognized as one of the top programs in the nation. Many of their students come in with poor attendance, bad grades and worse attitudes. But Union Public School’s alternative program is turning them into model students. And national educators are taking notice.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims has more on the program that's ranked in the top eight alternative schools in the nation.

It was a small ceremony, but not without some pomp and circumstance. It's not your typical graduation, but these aren't your typical students. Andrew Arnold, Union Alternative Graduate: "It was a long time coming. I didn’t think I was gonna get here."

To some folks, Andrew Arnold was a lost cause. "Whenever I first came in here I hated teachers I hated principals I hated everybody." That was then, this is now. "I love the teachers here they were like my second parents.” The difference, a lot of work from Andrew and a unique alternative education program that combines academics and counseling.

They teach a block schedule, one academic course, four hours a day, for a month. The classes are small and the teachers choose to work here, which makes the kids want to be here. Andrew Burnam, Union Alternative Senior: "Cause I like it I don’t mind coming to school anymore when I was at the high school I had a lot of absences but here I had perfect attendance the first block I was back."

Mike Murphy, Union Alternative Senior: "I hated math now I have Bob Buck and I love it he teaches it more on my level."

Colby Shelton, Union Alternative Junior: "we're not misfits we're good we get good grades you have to get good grades to stay here we're not troublemakers, ex-troublemakers maybe."

Now those kids some used to call troublemakers, Union's alternative school is calling graduates. Andrew Arnold, Union Alternative Graduate: "I almost thought I'd be flipping burgers for the rest of my life I didn’t think it was gonna happen for me then I realized how much opportunity you really have you just got to look for it and I found it. I found it here."

Union's alternative program is in the running to become a national model, setting the standard for all other alternative schools. This is one of those areas where Oklahoma is really leading the pack.

Tulsa's Street School was also recognized by the national dropout prevention network.