MONROVIA – Monrovia Unified’s Canyon Oaks High School has been named a 2017 Model Continuation High School by the state for its high percentage of graduates accepted into four-year universities, rising test scores and culture of preparing at-risk youth for college and career.

The state honored 35 continuation high schools with the distinction in 2017 for the comprehensive services they provide at-risk youth through instructional strategies, flexible scheduling, guidance and counseling.

“Canyon Oaks is truly dedicated to ensuring all students succeed in any facet of life,” Monrovia Unified Board President Bryan Wong said. “This recognition is really reflective of the skill, commitment and effort of Canyon Oaks staff and the infectious energy of its leadership under the direction of Principal Flint Fertig.”

Each year, about 10 to 20 Canyon Oaks graduates are accepted into a four-year university – about 20 to 30 percent of the student population. This is a result of the school’s Compass program, where counselors help students stay on track for graduation, apply for college, fill out financial aid applications and find opportunities to earn scholarship money.

“Our culture at Canyon Oaks revolves around preparing students for college and career, despite any challenges they may be facing outside our school,” Canyon Oaks Principal Flint Fertig said. “We want our students to believe in themselves, because we know they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. Once they realize they have that capacity, the world is theirs.”

Last year, Canyon Oaks implemented the Document Based Question (DBQ) Project – a quarterly schoolwide writing project that focuses heavily on document analysis. Such projects have been shown to increase student achievement on state assessments. At Canyon Oaks, the effort is credited with 36 11th-grade students testing proficient on the English language arts Smarter Balanced Assessment in 2016 compared with nine students in 2015 – a 400 percent growth.

Canyon Oaks’ college and career preparedness model keeps students thinking about their future through pathways that include automotive technology, health sciences, fine arts and video production, and construction and engineering. Through pathways, students delve deeper into various career fields by taking field trips to local businesses, conducting theater productions and touring science laboratories.

Professional guest speakers network with students and staff, offering insight into their fields and helping students find apprenticeships and internships in their pathways.

“Canyon Oaks is a Model Continuation High School because great programs emerge when great educators collaborate,” Monrovia Unified Superintendent Dr. Katherine Thorossian said. “Our students, teachers and staff strive for success every single day and motivate one another to accept and conquer any challenge.”

Continuation schools provide a high school diploma program for students ages 16-18 who have not graduated from high school, are required to attend school and are at risk of not completing their education.

The Model Continuation High Schools Recognition Program is a joint project of the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Continuation Education Association (CCEA). The 35 schools selected as Model Continuation High Schools retain their designation for three years and will be recognized at the 2017 CCEA State Conference in Fresno on April 28-30.