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Alternative high school program at Riverhead could begin with as many as 70 students

An alternative high school that would operate in the afternoon hours is in the works at Riverhead High School, Superintendent Dr. Augustine Tornatore said at the Nov. 9 Board of Education meeting.

The alternative high school has been in discussion since this summer and is designed to “help some of our at-risk students,” the superintendent said.

The hours of the program would be 3-5 p.m. in the high school building, Mr. Tornatore said. 

According to the National Dropout Prevention Center, the alternative school program serves youth in at-risk situations and provides an opportunity for students who are underachieving or lack credits for graduation but still want to stay in school and obtain their diplomas.

“We were really hoping that we’d be able to launch it by the beginning of second quarter, but we want to do it right so we’re being more methodical rather than rushing through it,” he said.

Mr. Tornatore has been pulling from his own professional experience as well as the cooperation of some of his colleagues while building up the program, he said.

“Fortunately, I was a principal of an alternative high school, so I’ve been able to work with our assistant superintendent and also our high school principal in looking to build up the program,” he said.

Two assistant principals are reviewing the transcripts of 71 students who could be eligible to join the program and are speaking with their families to go over options.

Additional staff members to work in the program are being sought, he said. 

“It’ll take some time before we get it to where we would like for it to be, but we want to be able to service all of our students including those who may not be successful in the current configuration,” Mr. Tornatore said.

He said more information will be shared with the public when it is available.