Skip navigation
Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Top Stories

Continuation School Helps Struggling Teens

Phoenix Continuation High School in Venice is taking a unique approach.

Continuation high schools are the last stop for kids who struggle in the public system. Phoenix Continuation High School in Venice is taking a unique approach.

“All of these kids here have not succeeded in a traditional high school,” longtime Phoenix teacher Liz Ryan said. “So we need to find a way to get them to succeed.”

Part of the strategy is a unique array of electives. From biology labs to graphic design, students choose from interactive courses. The goal is to get them to take ownership of their education.

“I wanted to come here because at this school you work independently, and at your own pace,” tenth grader Brittany Johnson said.

Most of the students who come to Phoenix are short on credits and have to scramble to graduate on time. The electives help keep the students engaged in school. 

One of the most popular electives pairs students with toddlers or disabled children for a semester, to teach the responsibility of parenting. “Teens and Toddlers” proved so successful at reducing teen pregnancy rates in England that it’s now a mandatory part of the curriculum there. But Phoenix is the only school in Los Angeles to offer it.

“We have gone out of our way to find these people, and bring them in and develop these programs,” resource teacher Kate Mitchell said. “I’m really proud of what we've brought here.”

And with just eighty students on campus, kids get much more personal attention than they’re used to. 

“They’re not here because they’re not smart and they can’t pass the courses,” principal Nancy Huerta explained. “They here because they need a different environment.

Not every Phoenix student ends up graduating. But the teachers say attending the school gives them a much better shot.

“Watching them walk that graduation stage…,” Mitchell said. “It’s the most awesome feeling in the world.”


love it!

Leave a comment

Students Want More From DPS Trojans Alert

By Cole Sullivan
10/05/15 | 6:55 p.m. PDT

Students say they want more informative and faster DPS alerts, but more than 70% of them aren't getting the alerts...

Governor Passes New California Law Against Racial Profiling

By xinyuz and Veronica Quezada
10/05/15 | 6:53 p.m. PDT

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires California police officers to document and publicise racial data of all stops.

Monday 10/05/15

Bike Registration Becomes Mandatory On USC Campus

Men's Waterpolo Snaps Stanford In Overtime

American Apparel Files For Bankruptcy

We detected that you might be on a mobile device such as an iPad or iPhone. Sorry, at this time the video box is only visible on desktop computers.