Bijou School issues own diplomas for first time

       The Bijou School took another step toward becoming a high school in its own right this year by receiving the right to issue diplomas.
       For 12 years, the school on North Walnut Street has been providing an “alternate” educational path for District 11 students who don't like the traditional, structured high school style. But until two years ago Bijou was technically a program, not a school.
       That was when the state and district defined Bijou as its own school, to the point of managing its own accreditation and keeping its Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) test scores instead of delegating them (as before) to the high schools from attendance areas in which the students lived.
       Issuing its own diplomas gives the school a further sign of credibility, according to Principal Wayne Hutchison. “We're really happy about it. It gives us recognition,” he said. As for the students, “the diploma shows the school they graduated from, instead of a school that in many cases they never set foot in.”
       Hutchison had requested the diploma revision at the same time as the CSAP change, but district officials decided to “let it evolve” for a while, he said.
       This year's diploma plan is also evolutionary. Graduates had the individual option (they won't next year) to put Bijou on their diplomas or their “home” school. Out of 20 graduates, only 2 opted for the latter course. They had attended Wasson and Palmer, respectively, and still felt ties to those schools, Hutchison explained.
       The school's graduation ceremony will be May 18, at 7 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 1150 Panorama Drive.
       Asked if Bijou will officially change its name to “Bijou High School,” Hutchison replied in the negative. He doesn't want the school to “mistakenly be considered a comprehensive high school,”he said. Also, he doesn't want to de-emphasize the name “Bijou,” which is a French word for “jewel.”

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