Rapid City High School data shows positive growth, says supportive school culture is the reason

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Recent data says Rapid City High School has a 74 percent reduction in arrests at school since the 2016-2017 school year. Discipline referrals have also gone down by 76 percent from the same year. Test scores have risen and so has the graduation rate.

The reason, according to some staff, is the positive culture that has been created over the past few years.

“The culture here is very welcoming,” says RCHS Chemistry teacher, Sabrina Henriksen. “It’s very friendly, the students that come here, come for a variety of different reasons. I always tell people however many students we have is however many reasons they decided to come over here. “

Alternative education can often be associated with stigmas without fully understanding the type of education or the children.

 “Stigmas are often I would say, unfairly, put towards and put on kids, and they’re kids,” said RCHS U.S. History teacher, Jesse Sporrer.  ” A lot of false things revolve around stigmas, and I want to know who my kids are, where they come from and where they want to go.”

Some of the ways the teachers and staff build on to the positive culture is through mentoring and advising students, which can focus on school or home-life.

“I think the mentoring program, the advisory program at our school is what has had the biggest impact on the drop-out rate and the discipline,” said RCHS Principal Shane Heilman. “Because when you give kids that go-to person, a go-to adult in the school that they trust to build a relationship with, who is monitoring their progress… it’s just a powerful thing to kids.”

There are on-site laundry services, an on-site food pantry and additional services that are available to students. Heliman says that they offer a connected set of supports that can address kids needs flexibly.

“We came in with a mission,” Heilman said. “The mission was to create the ultimate student environment for learning, and when you create the environment for learning that kids need, the learning comes pretty naturally afterward.”


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