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Plans Set for Two New Small HS Options

Details on Programs, Location for New High Schools

Article Date: Oct 02, 2017

September 26, 2017

At the Sept. 26 meeting of the Bend-La Pine Schools Board of Directors, Superintendent Shay Mikalson shared plans for two new small high school options that are expected to open to students in the fall of 2018.

“These programs, currently in the planning phase, are an EL Education (formerly called Expeditionary Learning) high school and an innovation/entrepreneurship academy,” Mikalson said.

For nearly two years, Bend-La Pine Schools' leadership has studied opportunities in order to achieve two important goals:

  1. A better balance for burgeoning high school student enrollment in both the short and long term;
  2. Development of small high schools that offer students 21st century career readiness paths in new and innovative ways.
“Through this work, the vision for two small high schools emerged that would satisfy both our short-term capacity challenges and 21st century learning goals,” Mikalson said.

The two small high schools, yet to be formally named, are set to operate in leased space in the Brinson Boulevard area in northeast Bend from 2018-21.

“This location is ideal, as it is accessible for students and is convenient for collaboration with many area businesses and employers,” Mikalson said.

The two small high schools provide Bend-La Pine Schools with new options for student learning at the high school level. The district's current Choice Options, which provide learning opportunities that are significantly different from our traditional programs, while meeting the same standards and requirements as other schools within the district, are only available for students in grades K-8.

Enrollment for the two new high schools will begin in the spring of 2018, during the district’s Choice Option enrollment period.


New High School Program Details

EL Education High School

The EL Education model is built upon two traditions: Outward Bound’s focus on challenge, teamwork, service, and compassion, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s focus on active inquiry-based learning. These two traditions combine powerfully in a school reform model that supports the success of students from all backgrounds in college, career and life.

The EL Education high school is an extension of the district’s existing EL middle school, REALMS. In its first year, the school is anticipated to serve between 75-125 students in grades 9 and 10.The school plans to grow by adding 11th and 12th grade students in the following years.

The new high school will share REALMS' focus on instruction that inspires students to be active participants in the learning process and on curriculum that engages students in making a difference in the world through environmental stewardship, social justice and other real-world investigations. The new high school will also share REALMS' commitment to strong student outcomes that balance mastery of knowledge and skills with an emphasis on character growth and students' commitment to high-quality work.

The school's design involves three primary components:

  • Coursework that prepares students for college/careers by emphasizing application of knowledge and skills to real-life problems or challenges.
  • Fieldwork that provides adventure and challenge; strong community connections, including internships; and integration between hands-on work and classroom activities.
  • Character and culture development that includes small group, long-term support in a "Crew," as well as a strong academic advisory system to help ensure all students are college/career ready.

Roger White, REALMS principal, is currently leading this design work with a leadership team.

Innovation/Entrepreneurship Academy

This school will offer students an innovative, project-based entrepreneurial high school experience within Bend-La Pine Schools. In its first year, the school is anticipated to serve as many as 200 students in grades 9 through 12.

The focus at the academy will be on fostering 21st century skills, leadership and the creative passion that lives within each student. Students will have a personalized educational experience that will cater to their specific interests, focusing on interdisciplinary learning, internships and advanced credit options. At the academy, students will take on real-world challenges and, using a design process, work to develop and implement solutions. Community professionals will work with students to develop authentic learning experiences as they focus on science, engineering, mathematics, the arts, humanities and entrepreneurship.

The school will be based on principles derived from the Stanford School of Design, known as the d.school, incorporating the latest brain research, personalization, and cross-curricular, real-world learning. At its essence, design thinking is the belief that everyone can be part of creating a more desirable future, and it’s a process to take action when faced with a difficult challenge. For more information visit Stanford’s d.school website and Design Tech High School’s site for a more complete idea of what a design thinking school is.

Alice DeWittie, Summit High School principal, is currently leading this design work with a leadership team.


Earlier this fall, Bend-La Pine Schools hosted a series of events to examine potential locations for the new small high schools. Learn more about these events and the process.