By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
A school that has spent 20 years being the place students turn to — and succeed — when traditional high school isn’t working for them celebrated its anniversary Tuesday.
Lincoln Academy opened its doors for the 1992-93 school year, launched with a $100,000 grant. The school’s first home was the former Roosevelt Elementary School at the corner of 9th and Oklahoma. Jarry Hillman and one teacher worked with the students who came to Lincoln. Five seniors graduated from Lincoln in 1993.
The halls were teeming Tuesday night with students returning to pay their respects and thank the school staff who helped them through.
In one case, a whole family showed up.
Chris Hardage, the first of four siblings who graduated from Lincoln, came to the open house along with his youngest brother, Richard, and his mother, Margaret. His cousin, Josh Hammond, who also graduated from Lincoln, came along.
Health issues, both his own and his mother’s, are what caused Chris to fall behind at Enid High School. His mother had to have a kidney transplant, and that put a lot of responsibility on Chris. As the oldest child, he pitched in to help with his younger brothers — and Richard was only a toddler then. He was missing school, not being there for lectures, and falling further and further behind in his classes.
“I came here my senior year as a full-time student,” Chris said. “Your record can say something on paper, but it’s not the whole story.”
At Lincoln, he found the support and extra help he needed to finish high school.
Richard Hardage, the youngest sibling, is a senior at Lincoln this year. Medical issues of his own have caused him to miss school and fall behind. Lincoln is the right atmosphere for him
“The teachers are really great,” Richard said. “There’s one-on-one help. At the high school, the teachers are too busy to give that.”
“This is a much-needed facility because the high school is so huge, the teachers don’t have time to stop for one student,” Margaret Hardage said.
Lincoln moved to its current address, 600 W. Elm, in 1996.
“In 2000, the state department passed a bill that all schools would have an alternative school, and we no longer had to rely on grants,” Hillman said. “Since then, we have graduated 50 to 60 seniors every year.”
This year’s graduating class of 70 seniors will bring Lincoln to the 1,000 graduates mark, Hillman said. It is the largest graduating class in Lincoln’s history.
Lincoln Academy serves students in sixth grade and up, and it now has one middle school teacher and five high school teachers.
One of them is Ann Allen, a longtime teacher who retired after 30 years, went to nursing school and worked as a registered nurse for a year and a half, but found she missed the classroom.
“Here, we take the whole child and do our best to meet their needs,” Allen said. “That might not be educational. If it’s not educational, then it’s not educational.”
“Now, I don’t know what they would do without it,” said Willa Jo Fowler, president of the Enid Public Schools Board of Education. “We’re so fortunate to have that in our community because it meets an important need.”
In 1998, Lincoln was recognized as Dropout Prevention Program of the Year by the Foundation for Excellence and named the National Dropout, Recovery, Intervention and Prevention Program of the Year.