Olympic High School in Santa Monica has been recognized statewide for its programs designed to help struggling students stay in school.

State Superintendent Jack O’Connell recently named Olympic High one of 27 Model Continuation High Schools for 2011.

“These schools create a culture of learning for and provide educational continuity for students whose lives have been challenged,” said O’Connell. “These Model Continuation High Schools have programs worth emulating. They help young people realize that getting a good education and earning a high school diploma is their chance toward leading a better and more prosperous life.”

Olympic High officials hailed the school’s recognition for continuation education.

“We at Olympic are delighted to have our school and staff recognized for the instruction and support provided to students on our small campus,” Olympic High Principal Dr. Janie Gates said.

“We’re especially grateful to the Santa Monica Police Department, St. John’s Hospital, the Santa Monica Education Foundation, the city of Santa Monica, and the community for the additional services and program opportunities they provide for our students. This is the best possible of holiday gifts.”

According to the California Department of Education, continuation education is a high school diploma program designed to meet the needs of students 16 through 18 years of age who have not graduated from high school, are not exempt from compulsory school attendance, and are deemed at risk of not completing their education.

“We are thrilled that Olympic High School has been recognized as an outstanding continuation high school,” said Dr. Sally Chou, chief academic officer of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. “Olympic provides opportunities for students who need a smaller environment, more individualized attention, and a myriad of electives to keep them engaged and challenged.”

The Model Continuation High School Recognition Program is a partnership between the state Department of Education and the California Continuation Education Association. The goal of the partnership is to identify and recognize outstanding programs and create a resource list of quality programs for school visitations and for other continuation high schools to emulate.

To be eligible for the recognition, applicants must be accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and demonstrate exemplary program effectiveness in school management, curriculum, instructional strategies, educational climate, and guidance and counseling.

As part of the application process, parents, students, and community members were required to submit written statements supporting their respective schools by September. Site validation visits occurred in October and November.

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