Newsletter #12!

Visit the complete newsletter HERE or read the preview below…

Three Rivers School District Update
They. Said. Yes.

New Beginnings by Kaya Whittlinger

At last night’s board meeting, the Three Rivers School District voted unanimously to approve the KCA charter proposal! Kalmiopsis Community Arts High School is opening next September to grades 9, 10, and 11!

They based their vote on our resubmission, which addressed the concerns that caused our initial denial in May. Our next step is contract negotiations with the district and replacing the organizational board –Kimiko, Kaci, Ryan, and Melissa– with a founding board that will oversee KCA for the remainder of the planning phase and the first years of the school. (Kimiko, Kaci, Ryan, and Melissa will transition into staff positions under the oversight of the founding board.) If this role might be calling to you, call on us! We will also begin applying for permits to locate KCA at Rusk Ranch Nature Center. 

For more updates, the entire newsletter is HERE. Thanks!

Newsletter #11!

Visit the complete newsletter HERE or read the preview below…

Humanizing the Standards
Sex Education is a Human Right

Kalmiopsis Mountains by Selena Newman

What is health education and what does it look like at KCA? 

Now more than ever, teens across the nation desire and deserve a holistic health education that helps them  build their confidence and knowledge of their own bodies and the relationships (inter and intrapersonal) that will continue to evolve as they grow and develop. But what does that look like??

Well, the ODE (Oregon Department of Education) has laid the groundwork for a comprehensive foundation that we will strive to adopt.  In the words of ODE, “Health education provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to develop health literacy, so they are able to access valid information, resources and services in order to develop, maintain and promote healthy behaviors.

Health education is built on the foundation of teaching to all dimensions of the whole child.  The eight main standards in health education focus on the development of knowledge and skills that students use throughout their lifetimes – understanding health content and concepts; analyzing influences; interpersonal communication; decision-making; goal setting; self-management; and advocacy.

Quality health education requires time for students to develop and practice healthy behaviors, and ensures that students from every background and identity can learn the knowledge and skills to live their best, and healthiest lives.”

Under the umbrella of health education resides the subject of sexuality education. Oregon is one of only 24 states nationwide that mandates sex education for K-12 students. Almost every state in the U.S. has some guidance around sex education.  Currently, 39 states and the District of Columbia require that HIV and/or sex education is covered in school.

However, there is no guarantee that the sex education students are offered is of high quality, medically accurate or covers the topics young people need to learn about to stay healthy.  Sexuality education has become one of the most important aspects of a holistic health education for the developing youth.

Decisions about sex education are usually made at the state and local level – no federal laws dictate what sex education looks like or how it should be taught in schools.  At KCA, we value a comprehensive sexuality education and luckily have great resources and guidance from our state. From the ODE website, “Oregon’s approach to Comprehensive Sexuality Education equips students with the knowledge and skills to realize their health, well-being, and educational goals.

Sexuality Education supports students to:

  • Realize their health, well-being, and dignity;
  • Build and maintain healthy relationships, including friendships, and/or romantic or sexual relationships; 
  • Develop awareness of their own identities and support the identities of others;
  • Ensure the protection of their rights and the rights of others throughout their lives;
  • Consider their own boundaries and respect the boundaries of others;
  • Recognize and access support, information, and care from trusted adults and organizations; and
  • Reduce child abuse, sexual violence, harassment, and bullying.”

Our mission at KCA states, “Where it’s okay to be who you are while discovering your place in the world.”  Our Health Education curriculum will strive to not only maintain that mission but also to help our students thrive in a curriculum based on safe spaces, medically accurate information, and a multitude of topics that are student centered through the lens of age appropriateness.

Access to comprehensive, medically accurate sex education is a human right. 

For more updates, the entire newsletter is HERE. Thanks!

Newsletter #10!

Visit the complete newsletter HERE or read the preview below…

We Get Hyperbolic!!
Take the Survey or We Die!

This is going to be an arts-based school, right? Then we might have permission to be a little bit melodramatic…

Please complete this survey or we will die!!!!

Everyone’s input is needed, no matter whether you have children. But, yes, we do need to show that enough people with high school-age children believe KCA will be good for the community. Please complete the survey no matter your background, and if you can forward the link (or this email) to others, yes! We need all the help we can get.

Please fill out the survey!

Only two questions are required.
It’ll take 2-4 minutes to complete (if you answer the optional questions, it’ll take a little bit longer).

Share the link widely, please!

Read the rest of the newsletter HERE.

BiWeekly Newsletter #9!

Visit the complete newsletter HERE or read the big news below because this one is a biggie…

Three Rivers School District Updates
One Step Back

New Beginnings by Kaya Whittlinger

Three Rivers School Board voted May 18 to deny our application, based on the recommendation of a consultant hired by the Oregon School Boards Association.

The consultant was satisfied with our curriculum, philosophy, student discipline plan, academic calendar, bell schedule, seat hours, and more. Their concerns were primarily financial.

This means that KCA cannot open the 2022-2023 school year.

We were informed on May 11 and had some time to process our emotions before the school board meeting. Melissa and Kaci spoke during the public comment period to ensure the board knows that we respect the process and their decision, yet we disputed some of the findings. You can read our public comment HERE.

Is that the end?

No, nope, not at all, no way!

The next step is to resubmit. We won’t need to resubmit the entire proposal, only the sections that either “failed” or “nearly met” the requirements. The consultant’s evaluation is HERE.

After re-submitting this midsummer, the school board will have 30 days to cast another vote. If they deny us again, we can appeal to the State Board of Education. The flowchart from start-to-finish is HERE.

We are disappointed, to be sure, especially for students who were ready to enroll this August. But we have to look for the silver lining in postponing opening day to August 2023:

– We will have more time to prepare KCA’s location. 

– We can consider allowing grades 9, 10, and 11 in the first year, as we will be more-than-prepared to handle three grades in year 1.

– There will be more time to revise the budget, procure grants, further develop curriculum, refine safety management systems, strengthen our 504/IEP plans, receive Intent to Enroll submissions, solidify more collaborations with community organizations, and overall prove that KCA is supported by our community and ready to open in 2023.

KCA Student News
One Step Forward

Untitled by Airabella Ferdon

The Opening Party for The Kalmiopsis Collection was purely awesome! Eight young artists’ work is on display through July 5, 2022 at The Guild Gallery & Art Center (24353 Redwood Highway in Kerby).

All the artwork in this newsletter was made by The Kalmiopsis Collection artists.

This was our first collaboration with The Southern Oregon Guild of Artists and Artisans, and it was so fun that we want to do it again! Read more details about The Kalmiopsis Collection HERE.

BiWeekly Newsletter #8!

Visit the complete newsletter HERE and read below for a sneak peek…

Three Rivers School District Updates

We Are Waiting, Waiting…

8 years since this idea began.
4 years since we asked the community if they supported a charter high school in the Illinois Valley.
2 years since the five Teacher Leaders began co-creating a proposal for KCA.
4 1/2 months since we submitted the proposal to the Three Rivers School District (TRSD) school board.
3 months since the school board determined that our proposal was complete.
1 month since the Kalmiopsis Community Arts High School public hearing.
 7 days until the school board decides whether to accept the proposal. If yes, we plan to open this August! If no, we will have 30 days to submit a revised proposal, and try again.
1 second since we last crossed our fingers that they will say yes. We are so ready to begin.

TRSD Board Meeting
(the decisive one!!)
May 18 @6pm

District Office
8550 New Hope Rd, Grants Pass

The TRSD school board meeting 2021-2022 calendar is HERE.

Read the rest of the newsletter HERE!

BiWeekly Newsletter #7!

Visit the complete newsletter HERE and read below for a sneak peek…

Fun and Miscellany
“Pi Day in July”

With so much serious stuff to do until opening day (board meetings! public hearings!), we don’t want to lose sight of what’s really important: the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

So we present…

Pi Day! In July!

Imagine this…

– a “Pi K,” where people run for 3.14159 kilometers all around Cave Junction while carrying a pie
– an after party at Jubilee Park with live music, perhaps even a “Pi-themed” rock song
– a “Square Root Beer” tent for drinks to cool us down
– a “Pi Recitation Contest” to see who can memorize the most digits of Pi!
– maybe an “Irrational Speech” and/or “Irrational Slam Poetry” contest?
– maybe a pie baking and/or pie eating contest?

To sum it up,
Save the date!

Sunday 7/17: Two prime numbers adding up to one very special Pi Day in July.

Read the rest of the newsletter HERE!

BiWeekly Newsletter #6!

Visit the complete newsletter HERE in English [o leer en español]

Or read below for a sneak peek…

Charter School Conversations
Do Charter Schools Take Money Away From Other Public Schools?

Image source:

The short answer is no. But it’s more complex than that.

Charter schools receive funding from the state just like any other public school; they don’t directly deprive other local schools of funding. Yet, if students from another local school transfer into the charter school—and the other local school can’t fill those seats with new students, causing a decrease in enrollment—then, yes, the charter school has indirectly pulled money from the other local school.

We have been concerned about this since the beginning, as the creation of KCA is intended to complement Illinois Valley High School, not cause IVHS any financial injury. Two co-creators of KCA are IVHS alumni, and the eldest son of another two co-creators attends IVHS (and is thriving). The administration of Three Rivers School District has indicated that, should KCA be approved, there will most likely be an “enrollment cap” on the number of students who can transfer from IVHS to KCA. We would support this requirement in the spirit of building a positive, cooperative relationship with IVHS.  

Read the rest of the newsletter HERE!

BiWeekly Newsletter #5!

Visit the complete newsletter HERE in English [o leer en español]

Or read below for a sneak peek…

A kid-created draft logo for KCA

A Piece of the Proposal:

Enrollment Projections

 This week, we want to share the enrollment piece of the proposal! 

Here’s the whole plan straight out of the proposal:

Year 1 is a “soft start,” serving grades 9 and 10, giving the founders of KCA time to establish sustainable programs and grow our staff. In year two, we anticipate the majority of students who were in grades 9 and 10 will return to complete the next grade level, and we will also accept a third class of incoming 9th graders. By year 3, KCA will serve all four grades 9-12 and begin graduating students, having had adequate time to prepare for the responsibility of ensuring students can meet requirements for graduation.

The enrollment growth plan aligns with our commitment to an ideal class size of 15 students, with a maximum enrollment of 20 students in each grade. A smaller school provides students with frequent one-on-one mentoring with their advisor, place-based learning excursions, and democratic schoolwide meetings. KCA will aim for a staff-to-student ratio of 1 to 15. The size of available facilities may limit the growth plan listed above; however, even with ample space, KCA will limit capacity to a maximum of 80 students.

Here’s what it means for families (if we are approved this year, opening doors this August):

If your child (or you, the future student) is currently in 8th grade or 9th grade, they will be eligible to enroll in KCA as a Freshman or Sophomore in Year 1! By next summer, we’ll be opening enrollment for the next year of Freshmen, who are currently in 7th grade. And so on, and so forth! After Year 1, there will be a handful of openings in 10th-12th grades as the years go on, though we expect many students will continue to graduate at KCA. 

Please submit an Interest Form (click here) if you have a child in elementary, middle or high school who is considering enrolling in KCA! The form is mutually non-binding, and really helps us gauge interest and anticipate enrollment. 

Read the rest of the newsletter HERE!

BiWeekly Newsletter #4!

Visit the complete newsletter HERE in English [o leer en español]

Or read below for a sneak peek…

Three Rivers School District Updates

The School Board said…

Kerby School
image source: Three Rivers School District

…our proposal is complete! This means we can move to our next step: a public hearing on April 6 at Illinois Valley High School, 6pm.

To watch the February 16 school board meeting, click HERE and scroll to the 01:06:13 time (1 hour, 6 minutes, 13 seconds) to hear our first Public Comment supporter—thank you, Patricia Downing!—and 01:40:35 to hear the board approve our proposal completion.

Read the rest of the newsletter HERE!