SEDONA RED ROCK High School educators and administrators, from left, Darrin Karuzas, Todd Gilmore, David Lykins and John Parks learn about new alternative high school software from Backbone Communications educational consultant Tom Stultz on Tuesday, July 28. Principal Lykins has revamped the existing Juniper Canyon alternative high school program into a more comprehensive program called Red Rock Academy.
Internet option helps students
By Alison Ecklund
Students who need a little extra help, need to work during school hours to support their families or just need more time will still be able to graduate from Sedona Red Rock High School with an alternative diploma thanks to online courses coming this year.
SRRHS Principal Dave Lykins is changing the name of the school’s alternative diploma program, Juniper Canyon, to Red Rock Academy, but the name won’t be the only change.
Red Rock Academy will offer online classes for students to make up credits or graduate with an alternative diploma on a more flexible schedule.
In order to receive a SRRHS diploma, students must earn 30.5 credits, Lykins explained, one of the highest requirements in the state. The state minimum for a high school diploma is 20 credits, but in 2010, it’ll be bumped to 22 credits, so Red Rock Academy will offer an alternative diploma for 22 credits.
“This is for kids who can’t make the 30.5 credits,” he said. “A lot of time they’re prone to drop out. It’s a safety net to hold underneath them to catch those kids.”
Students earning the alternative diploma at Red Rock Academy take the same number of classes as SRRHS students, without any electives. Last year, 23 students graduated from Juniper Canyon with an alternative diploma and just over 90 with SRRHS diplomas.
The school has purchased 20 seat licenses, which means 20 students may be using the software at one time. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Red Rock Academy will consist of four blocks with one instructor.
The new software, provided by Backbone Communications, will also be available to students to make up credits after school from 3 to 4:30 p.m., and on 16 Saturdays throughout the year. With Lykins’ approval, some students will earn permission to take the online classes from home at anytime.
The catch, Lykins explained, is that the student must take a review test and final exam in the presence of a certified instructor, so it won’t help the students to have someone else doing their work from home.
Students graduating with the 30.5 credit diploma can take advantage of the program by taking a course offered online that the school doesn’t offer such as anthropology, personal finance or psychology.
Lykins is also hoping to offer adult education to community members who want to earn a GED or learn English as a second language.
“Sedona Red Rock High School is a big part of this community but I think it can be a bigger part and play a bigger role by participating in adult education,” he said. “Now we have the technology to teach them English at a small fee.”
Lykins is also working with state legislators in order for the high school to be one of the first in the state to try virtual education. Through the same software, Lykins is hoping to someday serve students statewide by attending Red Rock Academy online.
Although the requirements to apply to the Arizona Department of Education’s virtual education program aren’t set yet, Lykins is preparing Red Rock Academy to make that switch as soon as he gets the go-ahead.
“Ten to 20 years from now, schools aren’t going to look like they do now. This is my way of meeting the needs of students across the state,” he said of students turning to online programs. “I’m going to spend a lot of energy to find means to meet students’ needs, reach into the community and increase attendance, and that’s the three goals of this.”
Alison Ecklund can be reached at
928-282-7795, ext. 125, or e-mail