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DesertDispatch.com
  • Excelsior students head back to school at new campus

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  • BARSTOW — The Excelsior Barstow campus opened up the doors to students for the new school year Tuesday at its new facility on State Street.
    According to Principal Camren Jones, enrollment has surpassed 180 students. She said students are still enrolling and she wouldn’t be surprised if that number rises past 200 or 250.
    “Word of mouth has really helped out,” Jones said Tuesday. “Students come to this school to feel safe. They feel valued. I think safety is the No. 1 issue with our students. We take that very seriously here and that keeps them here.”
    Jones says students like the collegiate feel of the campus. Inside the campus building, the middle is set up with comfortable chairs with tables, where students can focus on their studies. The classrooms are set up on the sides of the building. There is also an area with partitions setup for students, parents and teachers to hold meetings.
    “The core focus of our program here is the interaction the parent and student has with the teacher,” Jones said. “We pull the parent back into the equation here. We sit down and map out a plan. We make an educational pathway. We map out classes students are taking.”
    According to Jones, Excelsior follows a blended learning program. Students are able to do distance learning, but also attend classes. Core classes such as math, science and English are held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Elective classes such as film production, guitar, drama, ASB leadership, speech and college courses are held in the afternoon. Students can also attend courses at Barstow College’s technical education campus, which is located next door.
    Students are also required to do 60 hours of service learning, which requires volunteering at such at locations such as the hospital or a nursing home.
    “Students gain that experience in what they are interested in getting into,” Jones said. “It really helps the students open their eyes. This is what I want to do. This is my passion. That is our goal — for the kids to find their passion.”
    Class size, according to Jones, never tops 25. She said the small classroom environment is very important. She also believes the Excelsior program is preparing students for today’s jobs.
    “You can’t do the jobs of today with yesterday’s methods,” Jones said. “We as educators have to adapt so that we are preparing our students for the jobs of today. With this program, we are able to make that happen. Students are able to blend their learning style, blend in what works for them and also incorporate technology.”
    Jones said each student at the campus is issued an iPad.
    “We really use our technology with projects and with our homework,” she said.
    Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-256-4124 or mlamb@desert dispatch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @mlambdispatch.
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