Out of Parkrose High School’s current student population of about 916, there are around 70 students who do not attend all regular class schedules. Instead, these 70 or so students are part of what is called PACE for periods 4 through 7.
PACE, which stands for Parkrose Alternative Center for Education, is an alternative track through high school. PACE allows Parkrose students to recover credits during the school day. It also is for students who want an alternative option to the traditional classes offered. Although these are the most common reasons that a student would enroll in PACE, the reason can vary from student to student.
Social studies teacher Zachary Melzer and English teacher Carol Hanson are the current PACE teachers.
PACE has been at Parkrose High School for many years. According to Melzer the program has been around since the 1970’s. The program was located in the D region of the school for more than 15 years.
The changes this year include PACE relocating across the parking lot to the Fine Arts Building and losing a math and science teacher position.
Karmin Williams, a math and science teacher in the alternative school for 13 years, is no longer at Parkrose. This fall she took a job at Faubion Elementary School, where she became the vice principal.
Because Parkrose was unable to find an alternative school math and science teacher replacement in time for the school year, PACE is unable to hold as many students in the program as it usually would this school year.
Melzer said they are looking for replacements for the open teacher position. He said that it’s hard to find a new one that offers as much as Williams did.
Junior Benton Korth has been taking PACE classes since he his sophomore year.
“Honestly it can be chill, and it’s the same amount of work,” Korth said. “PACE is like a mentorship helping us figure out a plan.”
Korth said that the changes this year were unfair and limited the space PACE students had to do activities.
The move to the Fine Arts Building this fall was so that the new business teacher, Anna Killion, could move into the main building.
The move also made sense, according to Principal Molly Ouche, because the PACE schedule has more flexibility, which is embraced by the separate building.
However, “Ideally, we wanted to be all in one building,” Ouche said.
How students get into the alternative school has also been altered. Ouche said she would like to make it more systematic. Previously, menay students entered PACE after hearing about the program from a friend.
Instead of joining through knowledge gained from word of mouth, Ouche wants students joining PACE to be a good fit for the program.
“If we feel that they would be more successful in PACE… we will have a conversation about it,” Ouche said. “We wouldn’t just put the kid in PACE.”
Photo By Joshua Dyer