When you’ve been around the neighborhood this long, you can get a reputation. In the past, when someone mentioned Amistad, the response was often, “That’s where those kids go.”
Today, the students and staff of Amistad High School are out to change that perception.
Amistad has changed dramatically over its 40-year history. Once housed in the portables behind the old district office in Indio, Amistad now proudly stands on the campus of the former Wilson Middle School. Amistad boasts full-sized classrooms, a state-of-the-art automotive technology shop, an expanded library and career center, and a full-sized gymnasium. But that’s just the physical space—the really cool things are what’s taking place around the campus.
The high school is one of two continuation schools within Desert Sands Unified School District. These specialized type of alternative schools empower students with the opportunity to set personalized goals, recover credits, and even accelerate towards their high school diploma. Amistad is a six-time California Model Continuation School — one of only a handful of schools in the state that carry that distinction. In 2018, English teacher Alexis Arias won the California Continuation Education Association (CCEA) State Teacher of the Year. Ms. Arias was the first Desert Sands teacher to receive this award.
Instruction is a central focus on the campus of Amistad. Gone are the days of packets of worksheets. Today, students at the school engage in collaboration and hands-on activities much like their traditional high school counterparts. Students experience much smaller classes and have an array of supports available that they might not access at a larger, traditional high school.
The high school also offers intramural athletics to students including volleyball, basketball, soccer and softball. In addition, students also have the opportunity to join a number of clubs and student organizations. Each of these opportunities offer students the chance to become connected to their school.
During the 2017-18 school year, the high school partnered with College of the Desert and created the first co-enrollment heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) sequence of courses. Like the Amistad auto program, students from across Desert Sands were able to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Students enrolled in the HVAC program had the opportunity to earn up to 12 college units and 20 high school elective credits as they took their first steps towards earning an industry-recognized HVAC certificate. Next year, the school will become the first school in Desert Sands to offer virtual Advanced Placement (AP) courses open to any high school student in DSUSD.
Finally, during the 2016-17 school year, 26 Amistad students successfully completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This past school year, 72 students completed the FAFSA. Fifty members of the Class of 2018 not only completed the FAFSA, but also successfully applied to a post-secondary program, including, but not limited to College of the Desert, Milan Institute, Brightwood College, CV Beauty and Barber College, Bethel College, and the United States Military.
Times are definitely a changin’ at Amistad.
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