A Concord continuation high school is one of four in the Bay Area and 27 statewide to receive Model Continuation High School recognition for 2021, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond recently announced.

Olympic Continuation High School on Salvio Street in Concord was among the four Bay Area schools to receive the honor. Delta Continuation High School in Richmond, Del Valle Continuation High School in Livermore, and San Andreas High School in Larkspur were the other three recognized in the region.

“Traditional school settings don’t work for a lot of students and we pride ourselves on providing an alternative approach to school, focusing on relationships, mental health and flexible options,” Olympic principal Lynsie Castellano said.

There are more than 400 continuation high schools serving about 50,000 students ages 16-18 statewide. The California Department of Education describes continuation education as a high school diploma program designed to meet the needs of students who “are not exempt from compulsory school attendance, and are deemed at risk of not completing their education.”

Students who attend continuation high schools must spend at least 15 hours per week at school and also receive guidance and career counbseling, with some programs offering independent study, job placement services and concurrent enrollment in community college.

“Student attendance and engagement in distance learning during the school closures has been difficult — especially for students who struggled with attendance issues before the pandemic,” Thurmond said. “These model schools have been able to keep at-risk students on track using social and emotional learning, mentorship programs, restorative justice practices, and other innovative methods.”

Thurmond, who previously served on the Richmond City Council, West Contra Costa Unified School board and in the state Assembly, highlighted Delta Continuation High School for its programs, including a crisis intervention consultant and school psychologist.

According to the state Department of Education, the schools are selected for recognition based on data and assessments including a peer review panel and on-site visit, although this year’s visits were done virtually due to the pandemic.