About 30 students from Crossroads West celebrated earning their high school diploma at a graduation ceremony Thursday, Jan. 24 at Champlin United Methodist Church.
Opened in the fall, Crossroads West is a campus dedicated to "super seniors," students 18 to 21 years old who have not yet earned a high school diploma. With a focus on adult learners, Crossroads West provides students multiple pathways to earn a high school degree and other credentials to enter the job market or continue their education.
Crossroads West offers individualized schedules, online options and career- and college-related real world connections. The school works closely with Anoka-Hennepin's Secondary Technical Education Program (STEP), Anoka Ramsey Community College, Anoka Technical College, and the Anoka County Workforce Center to provide students with a variety of opportunities to gain jobs skills as they earn their high school diplomas.
Jordan Flores, of Andover, earned a high school diploma on a Friday and began a full-time job at Safety Speed Manufacturing on a Monday. Thanks to Patti Halsey, Crossroads West's vocational advisor, Flores had gotten a foot in the door with a part-time job. With a high school diploma, that became a full-time job.
Flores enjoyed his experience at Crossroads West.
"The teachers are always there for you," Flores said. "They care about what goes on in your life and you can talk to them about anything."
Amanda Arlt lives in Shoreview and found out about Crossroads High School from her mother. Behind in school, Arlt thought Crossroads would offer the experience she needed to finish her high school diploma. Now 19, Arlt began at Crossroads' main campus in 2011 and transferred to Crossroads West when it opened in the fall. Arlt has found it to be a good experience.
"With older students, the school has a calm atmosphere," Arlt said. "Everyone is here to get their work done, get the help they need and earn their high school diploma."
For Arlt, who received her degree Jan. 24, the best thing about Crossroads West was the teaching staff.
"They are constantly giving you one-on-one attention and asking you what you need to get the most out of your classes," Arlt said. "And they talk to you like you are an individual, not just another student. The teachers make the environment at Crossroads West so positive."
Arlt is "absolutely thrilled" to earn her high school diploma. Through the process, Arlt said she learned that if you want something in life, you have to work hard to attain it. Arlt plans to attend a community college for general classes and then transfer to a four-year college to study zoology. She said Crossroads West definitely played an important role in helping to make this dream a reality.
Just weeks before the official Crossroads West graduation ceremony Jan. 24, Anna Slepomoriy received her diploma and began classes at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. A former student at Coon Rapids High School, Slepomoriy was told Crossroads was a good option for her to finish her work for a high school diploma.
"I knew I wanted to go to college, but I had slacked off in high school," Slepomoriy said. "I thought Crossroads was the best option to get caught up and earn my high school diploma."
When she learned about Crossroads West, Slepomoriy didn't think much about it because "school is school." Like Arlt, she liked the atmosphere of the school in that students are there to get their work done.
Slepomoriy said there is no drama at the school and "you concentrate on your school work and move on." Slepomoriy is excited to earn her high school diploma. After finishing general classes at Anoka-Ramsey, she hopes to transfer to the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management to study business.
Luke Larson has also been accepted to Anoka-Ramsey Community College and plans to start this fall. He plans to take his general courses there and then transfer to Augsburg College in Minneapolis to study music or social services.
Larson started his high school career at Coon Rapids High school and transferred to Northwest Passage, a charter school, in tenth grade. Larson thought the charter school would be easier for him because it is smaller but instead of getting ahead in his academics, he fell behind. Larson's mother suggested he try Crossroads. Larson attended school at the main campus and transferred to Crossroads West when it opened this fall.
Larson likes that the school is dedicated to 18 to 21 year old students because it offers a better experience and better resources than other schools. He believes the teachers are focused on getting students ready for college.
While at the main campus, Larson took part in "On Course," a class offered by Anoka-Ramsey Community College. It allows high schools students to learn what they need to do to be accepted to and successful in college.
"I didn't think I would pass, but I earned a B," Larson said. "It was a nice college experience in a high school setting."
Now Larson is literally on course for college. While it's hard to say for sure where Larson would be without Crossroads West, the 18-year old said he might have dropped out of high school and found a low-paying job.
"Crossroads has turned me around for the better," Larson said. "The faculty are really geared toward helping you decide what to do with your future. It's a great school to go to no matter where you stopped in your previous high school experience. It's great to get your high school diploma and be able to get into the workforce or go to college.
"I'm really happy to be earning my diploma. Two or three years ago I didn't picture myself getting this far. My mom is really happy to see me taking the steps to meet my goal of going to college. It becomes more of a reality every day."
Crossroads West has three-week long units, so students can start anytime during the school year. The day session runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Students can take just morning classes. An afternoon session is from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Free busing is available from Andover, Anoka, Blaine, Champlin Park, Coon Rapids high schools. It is open to any Anoka-Hennepin student 18 to 21 years old who needs to complete his or her high school diploma; it also accepts students from other school districts through open enrollment.
For more information about Crossroads West, call 763-433-4500.
Student permission was obtained for student photo use on the district website.