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El Centro: A different kind of alternative

El Centro de Estudiantes is an alternative high school in the Kensington section of North Philadelphia, serving students who are over-age and about two years behind or “off track.” El Centro opened in 2009. El Centro provides each student with a highly personalized learning program, individual and family support services, applied learning in real-world contexts, and sustained postsecondary transition programs. Core elements include:
Advisory: Advisory is a small community within the school that students remain with until graduation. Advisories are valuable support systems, as students develop close relationships with their Advisor and a group of peers.
Exhibitions: At the end of each tri-semester each student presents an exhibition of their work and learning. Exhibitions provide opportunities for students’ work to be appreciated and critiqued by people whom they trust – their family members, their advisors, their real-world mentors, and their peers.
Post-Secondary Focus: Each graduate is prepared for success in post-secondary learning and work. Lead by the team of Post-Secondary Transition Counselors of the College Access Center, each student develops a post-secondary plan that includes completed financial aid requirements and applications to post-secondary opportunities.
Real World Learning: For most students the best motivator for creating high quality work is through one-on-one internships (Learning Through Internships) where they have the opportunity to engage in work for which they have a passion with a community-based mentor. Students spend Tuesdays and Thursdays developing real world projects at their Learning Through Internship sites.
Resilience Specialists: While all students are resilient, many do not cope well with stressful life situations and factors because of possible trauma; physical, emotional, and educational. Resilience Specialists work with students to build and learn proper coping mechanisms and help forge connections to agencies throughout the city to further assist around drug and alcohol abuse, anger management, legal support and housing.