Klahre House Alternative School

Our philosophy: Experiential, student-centered, democratic

We are a day-treatment center and year round alternative high school. The strength of  the program begins with the collaboration between the treatment and and education team. We believe that treatment and education go hand-in-hand. Therefore, the treatment of each teen is tied into their learning experiences in the classroom.

However, we spend a lot of time outside of the classroom. The academic curriculum combines experiential and student-centered approaches to engage the students in their learning. In other words, we don’t just discuss content and debate theory, we get out there and experience it. The students help create various projects around the Klahre House and in the community that support their individual learning needs. For example, the students created the journalism class in order to build real career-related skills and to work on individual writing.

Students and staff hold team meetings, collaborate on story ideas and layout, and publish in print and online in order to receive peer, staff, and public feedback on their writing. Their writing improves naturally with each piece, they take ownership for their work, they gain important job-related skills, and they work on social skills without even thinking about it all as treatment and education. See for yourself, Vox Juvenis.

Our teachers and students work together to replicate this environment in all of our classes.

Another very important quality about our school is an emphasis on community. The students, teachers, treatment staff, foster parents and others staff members all form a community, which requires an agreement on key values such as respect, trust, responsibility, safety and skill building and holding everyone to the community standards. When anyone in the community struggles, everyone is affected. So, in the classroom, in treatment groups, and in all school meetings we help check in with each other and work to keep the community strong or to address underlying issues that might have a negative impact on our community. Everyone is here for individual reasons, but they work as group to improve themselves and each other. 

 Our Projects:

Over the past few years, the Klahre House students and staff have collaborated on projects to improve the school and community while learning at the same time. Here are some examples of a few:

  • Art Projects: With the help of a grant and community artists, the Klahre House students have been able to work on several meaningful art projects. They worked with a local artist to learn about and create a mosaic that decorates the entrance of the local courthouse. The next year, the same artist worked with them on printmaking which resulted in t-shirts for every student and prayer flags that hung in the Columbia Gorge Art Center. This year, a different artist brought back the mosaic idea in order for the students to create a mosaic that will decorate the entrance to their new school building. 
  • Watershed Projects: Two Klahre House teachers collaborated with two community environmentalists to create the Watershed curriculum. After three years of this project, several more community environmentalists have joined the team and volunteer to work with the students throughout the curriculum. The students study the local watershed while also cleaning up local creeks, rivers and parks. 
  • Klahre House Council Projects: The council is the school’s governing body made up of six elected students and two elected staff members. This group studies leadership as a class and exercises it in the school and community. In addition to working with the school to build consensus about policy changes and project ideas, they build partnerships in the community to organize projects to benefit both the school and local communities.  Some of their larger projects include a Talent Show put on for The Next Door Inc. employees and Foster Parents, school Beautification projects, a school-wide mock museum open to the community, and the Fashion Show Fundraiser which featured used and recycled clothing with the help of Good Karma Thrift Store. It was also the first formal Vox Juvenis Fundraising Foundation event, a fundraising effort put together by the council to support more service learning projects. 
  •  Vox Juvenis classes: This title stands for “Voice of the Youth” and was first conceived by the journalism team and confirmed by a school-wide vote as the title for the school newspaper. Over time, its mantra of representing youth voice went well with other classes such as the Council, the Garden, and the Engineering Design class. Each of these classes are run by both students and at least two teachers. Students help in the decision-making process about project ideas and teachers ensure the projects support learning standards and the individual needs of the students. The Engineering Design class has designed and built trebuchets, bridges, planters for the front entrance, and recycle bins to organize the school’s recycling. The Garden class works with Klahre House teachers, a specialized garden instructor, and a master gardener at the OSU Experiment Station to grow food that is often donated to the Foster Families or used in the Klahre House kitchen for school meals. A portion of this class includes students who applied and interviewed for a position in the Youth Conservation Corps part of the program in which the Garden serves as more of a job internship and they have the opportunity to earn money over time. The Journalism class operates like a working environment in which students are treated as staff members. They have to collaborate on story ideas, complete interviews and research on their pieces, help with publishing layout, and meet certain deadlines. They publish both in print and online at www.voxjuvenis.com/wp. The Council is a democratically elected body of students and staff that work on policy and activities for the school. They hold all school meetings each week and work to achieve consensus on as much as possible. 

Academic Goals:

  • Proficiency Credit: We are working to align each course to award credit based on proficiency rather than seat hours. Simply put, the students earn credit based on what they learn rather than how long they sit in a class.  They set goals based on specific learning standards and have a study plan that addresses how they will learn and how they will prove their learning. This is a contract between the teachers and the students. It mostly involves project work which allows the students to engage in the subject in a matter conducive to their learning styles. With small class sizes of 5-8 students, this model is possible. There is still a long ways to go before the school will be completely based on proficiency credit, but all good things take time and careful consideration. 
  • Diploma or GED: The students in the school are mostly working toward their high school diploma based on Hood River District standards. However, our students often have extenuating circumstances in which they need to earn a GED. So, we also offer a GED program for students that are 16 or older and are more than a year behind on credits. 
  • Transition Goals: Most students will not remain in the program long enough to earn a diploma with us, so it is really important to focus on goals for transitioning. Some may return to previous schools or some may move on to independent living or new high schools. Whatever their plan, we try to focus on what can help ease the transition.

If you have any questions about the Klahre House Alternative School please contact the school administrator at 541-436-0341.

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