Battle Ground’s nationally recognized alternative program accepting new student applications for 2018-19 school year
Michael McCormic, Jr.
BATTLE GROUND — Battle Ground School District’s academically acclaimed alternative learning program, CAM Academy, is currently accepting applications for enrollment. The process, which began in February, is typical for an alternative program such as CAM, and consists of an application and placement assessment.
CAM Academy offers enrollment from third grade through high school, and, according to Principal Ryan Cowl, students can expect a fairly competitive application process, especially for earlier grades.
“A lot of times, for our primary and middle school programs, it is definitely very competitive because there’s not a lot of extra seats available, and students continue to apply from year to year. Once we get to high school, there tend to be more opportunities for students to apply,” Cowl explains.
According to Cowl, the increased availability of seats at the high school level is due to many students’ decision to attend a comprehensive high school, such as Battle Ground High School and Prairie High School. Additionally, many students who choose to attend CAM spend the final two years of their high school education attending Running Start at Clark College.
“We actually would like to see our enrollment increase at high school,” says Cowl.
Because of the academic emphasis within its program, the expectations at CAM Academy are different than those students encounter at comprehensive high schools; the staff at CAM actively encourages parent involvement and communication throughout the students’ education, and the school is proud of its tightly knit community.
In addition, CAM Academy is recognized nationally for its academic performance, and is accredited by the Washington State Association of Educational Service Districts. According to the Battle Ground Public Schools website, the accreditation panel commended CAM Academy for the strong sense of community between the school and its families, and the school’s “culture of excellence.”
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), also recognizes CAM Academy’s outstanding state testing performance having awarded the school the Washington Achievement award to denote outstanding academic performance. The school’s state testing results show that student proficiency is high above state standards, with 28 percent higher than the state average in language arts studies, 32 percent higher than the state average in math, and 25 percent higher than the state average in science.
According to Rita Sanders, Battle Ground Public Schools’ communications director, the reason that CAM’s enrollment often declines into the high school years is because the size of the school often limits the number of programs available to students, including AP classes, CTE classes, and Battle Ground High School’s new Capstone program, which, according to Sanders, is becoming prestigious in its own right.
In order to offer students a wider variety of choices at CAM Academy in the coming academic years, Cowl says there is an effort to increase elective and AP class opportunities, potentially through adding a zero period or sixth period to the school day.
Currently, CAM Academy’s academically rigorous program offers students the opportunity to receive the CAM Academy Four-by-Four award, which signifies four full years of study in the fields of math, science, english, and history.
“There’s a lot of universities out there that like students who do have that background. So, that’s one of the reasons there is that focus,” Cowl explains.
Additionally, students at CAM Academy have the opportunity to be involved in the Associated Student Body, National Honors Society, Interact Club, and after-school tutoring programs.
As an alternative program, CAM expects students to fulfill their physical education and arts credits outside of the classroom during the school’s “alternative learning day,” which means that no classes are held on Wednesdays. Because of this, students are free to participate in sports, theater, and choir through other local high schools and organizations.
While CAM may often have a reputation for being a school for the “intellectually advanced,” Ryann Campbell, the Spanish teacher at CAM, says that “students don’t need to be academically gifted to do well here.They need to be willing to work.”
As such, Cowl says that, as CAM is welcoming new students during the current enrollment period, he hopes to see the program serve its purpose and benefit those who are ready and willing to put in the effort.
“CAM is looking to attract students that are interested in being a part of a smaller community,” Cowl explains. “With emphasis on character development, academics, and preparation in the marketplace, CAM wants students who enjoy learning and want to be part of an environment where they can expand their learning.”
Enrollment opportunities for CAM Academy will remain available until August.