“Not a place for bad kids”: A look inside the Jenks Alternative Center

BY Lily Heritage


The Jenks Alternative Center, also known as the Sooner Building, is west of the Allan Trimble Stadium and east of the bus oval. Due to its isolated location, there are many misconceptions about how it differs from the high school, how people get to go there, and what a normal day looks like there. The Trojan Torch decided to set the record straight.


It is definitely not a place for bad kids,” says Amie Hardy, principal of the Alternative Center.


First of all, how does it work? How does it differ from the main campus?


“We run on a trimester, so we use the same textbooks and the same curriculum, but we cover it in an 11 week term rather than an 18 week term,” says Hardy. “Students can earn 9 credits in a semester rather than 6 credits.”


This helps with getting students caught up in areas they may have previously been unsuccessful in. While this sounds nice, students cannot just go to the Alternative Center to graduate early.


Unlike  the main campus, the Alternative Center offers a holistic education–they attempt to educate both the academic and emotional sides of the student. They offer a once a week counseling session for their students called “group”. A licensed therapist comes in, and students take turns talking about what’s going on in their lives.  


According to Hardy, approaching education this way gives the students hope for the future.


“A lot of the kids here have had negative experiences with school, so we give them a second chance: a chance for change, a chance to make some different decisions and we hope that they enjoy school,” says Hardy.  “I want my students to come here and not only learn, but like to learn. I feel like we give them hope to be successful and to find their strengths that maybe no one has pointed out in their life before. They become stronger in their academics because they’re hopeful.”


Desirae Horta, 12th grader that the Alternative Center, shares her perspective on what it’s like to be a student there.


“It’s, like, my favorite place ever,” says Horta. “You get more one-on-one help, and it’s easier to get close to people because of the smaller classes.”


She goes on about how going to the Alternative Center gave her a second chance.


“Freshman year I ended up dropping out because I couldn’t do my work. I wasn’t getting help. My grandparents had me come to Boston to do my freshman year there, and then I failed all my classes,” Horta explains.


After the application process, Horta was in the Alternative Center.


“Now I’m graduating on time, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without being here.”


Hardy has come to love her job and her students, seeing them as a second family.


“People all the time say ‘Your job must be tough’, my job is the best job here,” says Hardy. “I wouldn’t trade being a principal here to be a principal anywhere else because I get to not only counsel my students but also lead them and guide them and help them academically.”


Processed with VSCO with kk2 preset
Desirae Horta (left) and Amie Hardy (right) as close as ever before school.

One thought on ““Not a place for bad kids”: A look inside the Jenks Alternative Center

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  1. Thank you Sherrie for sharing .. I have two great grandchildren that would have been excellent students in this school. They both quit school too soon, and one will graduate .. online school!! Missing all the social moments that daily school offers. Her reason was being bullied!! 🤕 it makes me sad. .. ❤️


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