“I was behind in credits,” said Juliana, 17, a student at Wilson High School. “My brother came here. I heard I can make up credits here more easily if I put the work in. I’m also a student in SVCTE’s (Silicon Valley Career Technical Education) medical science class. My goal is to work [as an] EMT/Paramedic. I am studying to be a medical assistant because I get to learn about the human body.”
Wilson High School is an alternative high school that shares a campus with Santa Clara Adult Education (1840 Benton St.).
“We are an independent study program for our district,” said Pamela Galano, Principal of Wilson. “That’s the option for students to come to school for less days in a week. Most students come here one to three days a week and complete the majority of their school work independently at home.
Galano says the majority of Wilson’s students come in credit-deficient.
“They come to make up credits at a faster rate than they would at a comprehensive high school,” she said. “Some students enroll at our school for a different high school environment because we have a small teacher to student ratio.
“At Wilson High School, our primary focus is to help students get their high school diploma,” Galano continued. “We have the same credit requirements as the comprehensive high schools, such as Wilcox High School and Santa Clara High School. We don’t offer sports, after school clubs or extracurricular activities here.”
Also called the Minors Program, Wilson’s independent study program serves 9th through 12th graders and students beyond 12th grade. The high school also offers other programs, including the Retail Sales/Work Experience Program and the Young Parents’ Center (YPC).
“We do have a retail sales class, so students can get some school credit for having a job in retail,” Galano said. “Regarding the YPC, we serve parenting or pregnant teens from within our district boundaries. They come to school five days a week. Along with their high school credit courses, they take parenting classes. We have daycare onsite, five days a week while they’re in school.”
Julie Hall, a School Counselor at Wilson, explained how the school supports students beyond the academic arena.
“We are lucky that we have a team at Wilson with wellness coordinators, school psychologists and a school therapist,” Hall said. “I’ve also worked with Pat Eldridge (the district’s school/community and homeless liaison), who comes in and gives support to students facing homeless issues.”
“A lot of students come to us with a ‘flat tire,’ or more than one flat tire.,” Galano said. “That flat tire could be related to mental health, their family life, a need for them to work. We focus a lot on each individual student’s needs to get them back on track. What we do is customize each student’s schedule to meet their needs.”