SIDNEY — The halls of the Sidney Alternative School (SAS) have grown silent. The accomplishments, feelings and growth of students who attended the school remain as whispers throughout the building.
After six years at its location on Russell Road, SAS is moving to Sidney High School and Sidney Middle School for the 2019-20 school year. As man as 53 seventh through 12th grade students attended classes at SAS during the 2018-19 school year, said Principal Doug Zimmer.
Nine students, said Zimmer, who finished the year at SAS will be receiving their diplomas Saturday as the Sidney High School Class of 2019 graduates. Nine other graduating seniors spent part of their educational career at SAS.
“There are 18 students total graduating who attended SAS and then went to Sidney High School, the Opportunity School or SCOLA,” said Zimmer. “It’s all about the kids at SAS. The staff here is all about the kids.
“We’ve given the kids the opportunity to get it (education) done. We had students come in this week to finish their Plato classes. And that’s encouraging for us to see.”
Zimmer said four of this year’s SAS students will be attending Upper Valley Career Center in the fall. One student is enrolled in college credit plus classes.
SAS students, said Zimmer, are given incentives to help them to return to the middle or high school. If students have a good semester or nine weeks — and the students and teachers are in agreement — the student can return to their home school.
Counselor/instructional aide Charlie Tucker works one-on-one with the students at SAS. He will help decelerate a situation in which a student is having a problem.
“We’re dealing with a lot of strong willed kids here,” said Tucker. We help teach them a nonthreatening intervention to deal with a problem.
“We tell the kids, if you need a break, it’s OK to ask for one,” he said.
Some of the students are court-assigned to SAS. Other are “socially awkward,” said Zimmer.
“One student,” he said, “was very shy and couldn’t come out of their shell. There was a trust issue involved.”
Students attending SAS are involved with the credit recovery program so they can earn high school credits toward graduation.
“We’ve had students earn 9 to 10 credits,” said Tucker, “as opposed to 5 1/2 when they were at the high school.”
He credits this success to each student have direct contact with their instructor.
“We help them work through their feelings. If you’re felling something (good or bad), you’ll never forget it,” said Tucker. “We foster relationships with the students. We build trust with them. They won’t listen to what we’re saying without trust.”
Both Zimmer and Tucker stress the importance of each student keeping their power of emotional control.
“If someone makes you angry, you’re giving your power away,” said Tucker. “You can’t let anyone see you sweat.”
The success of SAS, said Zimmer, is because the community has pledged its support to the program and students. He expressed his appreciation to the United way, Shelby County Juvenile Court, Shelby County Probation Department, Sidney Police, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Sidney Fire Department, Charity League, Family Resource Center, BelMar Lanes, Sidney Rotary, Emerson Climate, Army National Guard, U.S. Marines, Northwood School, Salvation Army, Upper Valley Career Center and the community donations of supplies and clothing.
“Our SAS students helped the kindergarten students at Northwood,” said Zimmer.
The SAS staff, said Zimmer, helps empower the students with the knowledge that they can succeed in life.
“The motto for the school is ‘Success is a choice, your choice,’” said Zimmer. “It’s all about the choices and what you make of those choices.
SAS started the year with 14 employees, said Zimmer. One employee left for other employment, whole one moved to a different building in the district during the school year. The 12 staff members who completed the year will be reassigned to another building in the district. They will be assigned to Northwood, Emerson, Longfellow, Sidney Middle School and Sidney High School.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.