Vista Grande High School in Taos is striving to ensure that all of its students soar high and never fall through the cracks. For the fourth year in a row, …
Vista Grande High School in Taos is striving to ensure that all of its students soar high and never fall through the cracks.
For the fourth year in a row, Vista Grande students are given an alternative path to either finish their schooling or return to the academic world after stepping aside for some time. Through the school's Night Flyers program, students who normally do not fit into a typical classroom setting are encouraged to visit the school in the evening to earn their credits instead of sitting in a classroom during the day.
"It's self-paced and it allows students to deal with complex lives outside of school," said Night Flyers tutor Lowell Reeves.
Reeves has been with the program for three years and said plenty of students have their diploma specifically because of the program.
Night Flyers students often do not fit into the schedule of the typical school day for various reasons and are given the opportunity for evening online classes via Night Flyers. Sessions are from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Students can have their online lesson with the assistance of Reeves if needed. Students go at their own pace and can even log into their classes from home or wherever Wi-Fi allows them.
"That's what I dedicated all my free time to," said Vista Grande graduate and Night Flyers alum Rachelle Valdez. "When I was in a classroom with my friends, I was really distracted."
Valdez said she didn't fit in with regular school hours, found herself drifting and eventually dropped out. Returning to school was difficult, but she made it happen when her boyfriend alerted her to the Night Flyers program.
She worked two jobs during the day and was unable to adhere to a normal school schedule. She was thrilled when she learned of the night classes. Now a receptionist for the school she graduated from, Valdez said she would not have graduated if she was not a night flyer.
The program allows Vista Grande students to also visit classrooms during the day if there is an open slot and if they need extra time with the material. Those who do not enjoy online classes may not be an exact fit for the program, according to Reeves.
Possibly one of the only downsides to the program, according to Reeves is the amount of "screen time" versus "classroom time" Night Flyers involves. A new wave of online classes has been attractive to some; however, many students still need the in-class atmosphere that comes with a traditional day of school. Despite the challenges, Reeves still said the program is an excellent opportunity for students to stay in school and on track.
"I see a lot of focus," Reeves said of his students.
The Edgenuity software program used by the students in Night Flyers covers common core subjects the students would learn in a traditional classroom and tracks their progress. The only major deadline for the work to be completed is the graduation day the students set themselves. The set graduation date lets students graduate early if they choose.
Night Flyer Dominic Martinez said he's ready to get his diploma and move on to the next phase of schooling.
"I wanted to finish early and Night Flyers gave me a chance to do that," he said.
Martinez, 16, will graduate soon and plans to attend the University of New Mexico-Taos to earn his associate degree in science.
The Night Flyers program is mostly set up for upperclasspersons, but Reeves said there are special circumstances in which freshmen and sophomores would be allowed.
Previously, Vista Grande graduated eight students in their Night Flyers program in 2018 and currently has a class of eight students. Those wishing to enroll must be students of Vista Grande and willing to work independently.