Community School: An alternative path to high school graduation

Community School: An alternative path to high school graduation
Posted on 05/04/2021
Community School: An alternative path to high school graduation

By Kadey Heidrich
Pasadena ISD Communications

Traditional high school wasn’t a good fit for Kimberly “Kat” Wilkerson. After three years of what Wilkerson describes as a “daily struggle,” she decided to consider other options for completing her high school education. Wilkerson decided to attend Community School. 

Community School is a high school of choice in Pasadena ISD that empowers students to reach their full potential by providing self-paced classes in a blended environment. Community School, fondly referred to as the district’s hidden gem by its staff members, gives students at risk of not graduating from high school another chance to earn their high school diploma. The small school prides itself on providing a personalized experience for each student, calling this personalization their “hidden curriculum.” 

Wilkerson talks about how Community School differs from traditional high schools and her experiences at the campus. 

Q: What led you to Community School?

A: Bad decisions, really. I wasn’t keeping up with school the way that I should have been. Traditional school wasn’t for me. Having to go back and forth to seven different classes each day was hard for me. I have sciatic nerve damage, so walking back and forth was a daily struggle. 

Q: What was your experience like at Community School?

A: It felt like everyone really cared. When I have stopped by to visit, they remember me and say, "hi." 

I feel like the school tried harder. They tried to make things fun for the students with activities like “Team Building Tuesdays.” Not because they had to, but because they wanted to do something for us. They made time for us. 

Q: How was Community School different from your old school?

A: Community School is a lot smaller than my old school and I liked that. There were thousands of kids at my old school and it was hard to get through the hallways, I would get frustrated. At Community School, the hallways weren’t crowded and I saw people I knew everyday. 

The work we did at Community School was different, too. I had a chance to go back through old lessons to make sure I understood the subject. The work at Community School was more to the point and we could work at our own pace. 

I was also able to work in a quiet environment there, which I liked. I know some people enjoy going to seven classes a day with lots of different people, but it just wasn’t for me. Everyone learns differently. 

Q: How does it feel to be a high school graduate?

A: It feels good! I’m working in childcare with my mom right now, but I hope to find something different in the future. I just enrolled in San Jacinto Community College and I am excited to get started. I would like to become involved in fine arts or be a teacher. 

Q: What do you want others to know about Community School?

A: I love all of the staff here, they are all really nice and helpful. For example, even though I spent three years at my old high school, I feel way more connected to Community School. I actually put Community School on my class ring, rather than my old school. 

They all care, I think that was my favorite thing about this school.  

Wilkerson graduated from Community School on March 31, 2021.

Wilkerson (center) poses with Community School principal Jennifer Capra (left) and assistant principal Randi Elliott (right).