Remember the Teen Nick TV show Victorious– a school that allows students to follow their passion of the arts and excel at what they believe in? Viewers wished this school could be a reality and now, it is.
New to WCPSS this 2016 school year is Crossroads FLEX. Unlike traditional schools, the FLEX school allows students to “flex” their school schedule to fit their daily life and activities. The school focuses on allowing students to follow, what they call, “pursuits.” These “pursuits” include athletics or interests in the arts. For example, a musician with lessons during the day, athletes on traveling teams, and students training for the olympics or other competitive events. Often times extracurriculars interfere with a student’s school work and schedule. FLEX helps eliminate this problem.
“We prefer that students already have a pursuit prior to applying to Crossroads FLEX,” said Keith Richardson, principal of Crossroads FLEX. Pursuits aren’t solely limited to the arts and sports when it comes to a student’s passion. Students with a particular interest in math or science can apply as well.
There are requirements for those studying a particular subject in depth when they apply. “If they [students] are already involved in outside agencies working with that particular subject that require a significant amount of time during the day,” said Richardson, the pursuit is recognized and students can attend. The school does not supply access to these interests: they support the education process for kids with busy lives.
FLEX allows students to pick and choose the days and hours they attend school, similar to a college student’s schedule. Richardson said, in an email, “Students have to attend Crossroads FLEX at least 10 hours a week, but that time could be increased based on a number of factors including historical academic data, and the demand of one’s pursuit.”
In addition to in school hours required, students must complete online courses for “90 minutes a day per course in order to remain on schedule with their coursework,” said Richardson.
A typical school week is 35 hours in class, while Crossroad FLEX students complete a total of 15 hours (based off of a single student’s observation) of school each week, a little less than half the time of Leesville students.
Students at Leesville finding it difficult to complete school work and continue their participation in their activity of interest should consider applying to the FLEX school.
“The schedule at Crossroads FLEX gives students the time and opportunity to really explore and master their particular craft and it supplies them the opportunity to train and compete at higher levels. For students whose pursuit is their true passion and want to continue that pursuit beyond high school, Crossroads FLEX is the place to be. “We accommodate a student’s schedule and we support students academically to help ensure success in both school and in their respective pursuits,” said Richardson.
Amy Waas, former student at Leesville, transferred to Crossroads FLEX this year. She joined the FLEX school to continue her passion in theater and music. Waas said, “It’s [Crossroads FLEX] lovely. It’s the least stressful school has ever been, and everyone is super committed to making sure you excel.”
Currently, Waas is volunteering at various locations, writing, and playing the guitar and piano in her newly found free time. Next semester, Waas has the amazing opportunity of interning at NC Theatre and Burning Coal allowing her to follow her pursuit of theater.
When asked how Leesville compares, Waas said, “Almost everything is unlike Leesville; first off, FLEX is open from 7:30-5:30, and there’s less than a hundred students. Second, it’s all online based. Third, there are five teachers… total. It’s just so different.” Waas also said the school makes it easy for students to graduate early because they do offer extra classes.
Like most students at FLEX, Waas left due to the pressures she had from her daily life. “I was incredibly overwhelmed, between home and school and extracurriculars,” said Waas. She said best part about the school’s program is she “actually gets to learn” and is allowed to pursue activities she is more passionate about, theater. During the day, and even at night, Waas takes advantage of opportunities to better herself in her passion of choice.
Crossroads FLEX is unconventional compared to other school systems in WCPSS but seems to work based off of Waas’s positive reaction towards the program. FLEX opens up a student’s schedule and allows them to follow their pursuit or passion increasing one’s interest in the school.
By the end of the school year, Crossroad FLEX and WCPSS will have data they need to analyze the success of the school’s program. Crossroad FLEX hopes they can help the busy student graduate.