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Alternative Education Schools

Ponderosa High School's First Year


Ponderosa High School students end of year backpack trip

Ponderosa High School and Green Career Center celebrated a monumental first year. Ponderosa opened this year in Ben Lomond in order to provide students in the San Lorenzo Valley and Santa Cruz County with an alternative school program. Ponderosa’s school curriculum focuses on academics with themes in sustainability, green consciousness, environmental studies, outdoor education, community involvement/service, and vocational training. Over the course of the school year, Ponderosa students participated in a variety of community service projects: the Homeless Garden Project, cleaning up the Evergreen Cemetery, shore restoration projects, native plant removal and trail maintenance at local State Parks, and growth and release of native Steelhead trout into local streams. They also built garden beds and a trellis for their school campus.

Ponderosa High School students end of year backpack trip

At the end of the year, Ponderosa students took their environmental studies and outdoor education knowledge into the great outdoors. After being certified in First Aid/CPR at Ponderosa, students participated in a three day, two night backpacking trip through the Desolation Wilderness in the Tahoe Basin area. Students hiked 12 miles carrying essentials on their backs, while forming a new sense of themselves, their abilities and challenges. During this trip they developed even more support for each other, all of which became an overall life-changing experience. All of the accomplishments of Ponderosa students in their first year are a testament to the resilience of Alternative Education students, who demonstrate the ability young people have when they focus on what is possible, rather than on what is impossible.

Ponderosa High School students

Ponderosa High School students in Forestry Challenge 2011

Photos courtesy of Laura Macondray, Guidance Counselor and Project Specialist.

Find out more information about Ponderosa High School and Career Training Center, or contact Carol Polhamus at (831) 336-9338.


Santa Cruz County Office of Education  |  400 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060  |  831.466.5600  |  Fax: 831.466.5607
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education provides quality educational programs and services to a diverse community.