April 20, 2019

Students consider diverse topics

SKOWHEGAN — Sex, HIV, and romance were a few of the workshop topics at a conference in Skowhegan Friday for alternative education students.

The one-day conference, sponsored by the Crossroads Learning Center was geared to give the 125 high school students from across the state a chance to discuss issues and meet students from other similar programs throughout the state.

Other topics included: getting into college, teen-age pregnancy, sexual harassment, music and art in alternative schools, claiming ownership in your school and conflict mediation.

Alternative education is for students who cannot learn in a traditional school setting. Rean McGinley, teacher and coordinator of the Crossroads student government said their students attend their program for different reasons — some are teen mothers who cannot attend school five days a week, some attend for independent study, and some attend to catch up on credits.

McGinley said that the more than 50 students who attend the center would probably be dropouts if it weren’t for this program.

“Some are here as a condition of probation. It’s either here or South Portland (Youth Center),” McGinley said. The center is smaller than a traditional high school and there’s more interaction between staff and students. The program is also for gifted and talented students.

“These are not slow students by any means,” she said.

The conference had a total of 12 workshops and a live band performing heavy metal music during lunch and breaks.

Debbie Baeder, a planner for the conference said it went well overall. “We thought it was a very good success.” she said.

McGinley and Baeder hope this will be the first of an annually occurring conference.

“We hope other schools will pick up the ball and host,” Baeder said.

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