SL schools promote options, new Honors Diploma

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Storm Lake Board of Education has approved an online program to inform students and families of several different diploma paths and the requirements to earn them, including a new Honors Degree.

The project stems from the district’s belief that “all students deserve a rigorous core curriculum that challenges and prepares them for a variety of opportunities - both known and unknown - after high school.”

Superintendent Stacey Cole hopes that making clearly articulated plans in the different degree programs available through the student’s high school career will help them make sound decisions in planning and setting class schedules.

The Honors Diploma requires eight credits each of English, Math, Science and History/Government as well as 7 elective credits which can include fine arts, business, college courses and independent study among other subjects. Additional requirements include financial literacy, four years of world languages or achieving the Seal of Biiteracy, at least 150 Silver Cord (community volunteerism) hours, and participating in at least one extra-curricular or college club.

Standard diploma plans with or without remediation are offered, and the specifics are listed for four-year and five-year charter school Associate Degree programs. Students can also plan workforce education programs through Iowa Central Community College for certifications to come with their degree - currently, programs in machinist and welding are available, with hopes of adding more. Students can be paid while they learn under the programs.

Work credits can also be recognized toward a diploma in specific pre-approved cases, depending on the life circumstances of the student.

Supt. Cole hopes that making students and families aware of requirements can avoid having Storm Lake graduated face remedial level programs when they begin college, which could save them thousands of dollars in the future, she said.

“We want everyone to know the things they will need to be successful when they leave high school. Many of those requirements have already been there, but we wanted to go public with it,” she said. “We’re not being jerks telling them they have to take Algebra. Now we can show them how everyone has to take algebra.”

School board member Erika Dierking was impressed with the effort. “There’s something for everyone, and it’s all free. I love it,” she said.