Just who and what is Yampah Mountain High School?
Yampah Mountain High School was formed in 1989 as a non-traditional high school under the umbrella of the Mountain Board of Cooperative Education Services for students in four area school districts including Roaring Fork, Aspen, Garfield Re-2 and Garfield 16.
According to the school’s website, the idea was to provide an alternative for students who, for whatever reason, were not successful in their home high schools.
The school’s mission: Yampah is a learning community designed to develop meaningful relationships, a pursuit for life-long learning, and the academic skills necessary for the 21st century student.
The school graduated its first senior class in the spring of 1990, and has continued to grow and evolve over the past 26 years.
Originally, the Glenwood Springs-based school was located in a pair of former church buildings. In the winter of 2000 the school moved into its own “purpose-built” facility located at the corner of Midland Avenue and Red Mountain Drive. A separate science building and geodesic dome greenhouse came along later.
Yampah receives its funding through the state’s per-pupil designation to the member school districts. Additional funding for specific programs is provided by local Departments of Human Services and several local and state nonprofit organizations.
Today, Yampah Mountain High serves as a school of choice on a quarterly application basis, with a limited enrollment of 160 students, freshman through senior years.
The student population is about 40 percent Hispanic, 5 percent African American and 55 percent white.
In 1994, a teen parent program, championed by longtime Yampah Principal Leigh McGown, was added to address the needs of students who had dropped out or were not attending school because of parenting responsibilities.
Its mission is “to support member district pregnant and parenting students to become self-sufficient, involved citizens in their communities, while working towards their high school diploma.”
In addition to keeping up with their academic studies, participants in the program also receive parenting education and guidance on providing early childhood education for their children.
Children up to age 3 ½ years can also be enrolled in an on-site, nationally accredited infant and toddler nursery program.
In 2001, Yampah Mountain High was designated a Glasser Quality School, named for renowned psychiatrist and educational theorist Dr. William Glasser.
The school is fully accredited, and participates in an annual state accreditation review.
Personalized plans allow Yampah students to earn credit through direct classroom instruction, individual studies, online courses, post-secondary options and experiential learning experiences.
According to the most recent statistics, 35 percent of Yampah graduates go on to four-year colleges, 30 percent to two-year institutions and 35 percent go into the workforce, military service or technical instruction.
A 2015 Student Gallup Poll given to area high school students by the Aspen Community Foundation as part of its Cradle to Career initiative sought to measure hope and engagement of students. It found that Yampah students are the most hopeful among public high schools in Garfield County.
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