Everyone knows, and is proud of, Winter Haven High School, but there is a second high school here that is not yet really well known because it is different in many aspects. I remember few months ago wen I was talking to this teen mother I asked her where she left her son when she goes to school, she said that she took him to school with her. Well, I was surprise...I repeated 'to school, they allow you to take your son to school'. At which she informed me that they have child care on board and that she can have lunch with her son at anytime. Wow! Intentions
This program for teen mothers is called STAR(an acronym for Successful Teens Achieving Responsibility) a charter school, and a division of LifePath Solutions.
It is also one to be proud of its vision is to be Polk County's premier alternative high school providing academic and social solutions for young women who are pregnant, parenting or at-risk.
The mission of the school, under the direction of CEO Howard Drake, is to empower young women with an understanding of their true value and to prepare them for a productive life. The focus is accountability (No child Left Behind). STAR is a place for the girls to feel special and not different.
The school opened in 1999, with the desire to make an impact on kids at risk. The present enrollment is 103 students and their children. Currently, the facility can take in as many as 165 students.
The students must pass the FCAT to receive their diplomas. This demonstrates the school's desire to provide the quality education that the students deserve, as well as fits the LifePath Solutions model of providing program excellence.
It's been said that the girls make the choice to go to this school. Some are classified as parenting, pregnant and some are 'at-risk'.
The school does not provide any type of sporting event as regular high schools. However, child care receives special attention and focus.
The school bus operated by LifePath Solutions brings the students and their children from a 25-mile radius from the school. This includes Winter Haven, Mulberry, Lake Wales, Auburndale, Lakeland, Haines City and Davenport, and they are provided with breakfast and lunch in the school dining room.
LifePath is in the process of obtaining an additional bus that will allow it to expand the outreach and serve more students.
The school is also well arranged. There is one large child development center where the students' children are cared for while their mothers are in class.
Another area of the campus is the Little Star Child Development Center that is dedicated to serving working families and is open to the public. Soon the school hopes to expand and create a media center which will include moving the current computer lab to this center.
According to the CEO, the demographic makeup of the students is 40 percent Anglo, 35 percent black and 25 percent Hispanic.
Any young woman not thriving in her current environment or who is at risk of missing her full potential if her life continues on its current rack may attend STAR High School. So this school is not just for pregnant teens, but teens who might be falling behind in her studies can attend this school.