Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Let's Finish What We've Started

Trenton’s model Daylight/Twilight School is being constructed on East Hanover Street opposite the historic Trenton Friends Meeting House. The complex will utilize newly constructed buildings to connect two existing ones. The architecture will tie together in a harmonious way that gives the appearance of an intact city streetscape.

But it’s not just how the complex looks that is so good.

For those not familiar, the Daylight/Twilight school is a “non-traditional” (the term preferred by Principal Bill Tracy) institution that allows individuals to complete their high school education after an “interruption.” The idea is that regardless of the reason for the interruption, the students can take this opportunity to more than just pass a GED (General Education Development) test, but can actually get that High School Diploma. For the most part the returning students, who can range in age from 16 to 60+ are considered highly motivated to successfully complete the program despite the obstacles that life throws in their path.

The new facility will bring together under one roof the courses, faculty and students from the two existing campuses in the West and South Wards respectively. Operating with morning and afternoon sessions each day, the school will accommodate roughly 1000 students per 10 week session. Another 400-500 can be served through the on-line school with testing being conducted at the downtown location.

The proximity to Mercer County Community College’s Kearney campus will hopefully allow students graduating from Daylight/Twilight to seamlessly move into college level courses.

In putting together the Daylight/Twilight school puzzle, various vocational education pieces will be fit into the picture in order to prepare graduates for real jobs in the real world. This is perhaps the most exciting facet of the model school being built.

For some time now activists and advocates have decried the lack of honest to goodness vocational training in our city schools. With no way to prepare the skills needed to succeed in the real world, is it any wonder that so many of our Trenton’s youth forsake their education for the streets. Bringing real job skill development and training into the mix for the students who are returning from their educational hiatus is smart.

Shouldn’t we consider doing the same for traditional high-school students with an eye towards preventing them from leaving the system to begin with?

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