Jason Zona: Pioneer High School: Small school with big options

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Pioneer High School, the “Home of the Panthers,” a free alternative public high school, was created in 1998. It’s fully accredited in Nevada and allows students in grades 9-12 to apply for admission anytime during the school year.

Pioneer is considered “alternative” because of our small campus and smaller class sizes, hybrid scheduling, and five diploma options. Pioneer is also the home of Carson Online, which provides more than 200 online courses to secondary students in Carson City School District and surrounding counties and states. PHS holds up to 200 students and is located conveniently in the center of our city at the corner of Corbett and Fall streets.

PHS started the “hybrid scheduling” option, which allows students to attend classroom style courses with an optional mixture of online courses each day. We have talented teachers on site and online to assist students. Students can recover unearned high school credits, earn dual college credits, and pursue five different diplomas, such as a Standard High School Diploma, Advanced High School Diploma, an Honors High School Diploma, and/or work toward a CTE or an Adult Diploma option, if they meet the criteria.

During the last several years, Pioneer has been recognized as a “Highlighted School” by the Nevada Department of Education for graduation rates and achievement. PHS staff members were invited to present our school procedures, partnerships, and schedule options at an education conference in Las Vegas.

Pioneer offers extracurricular activities and clubs such as guitar, graphic arts, journalism, student leadership, speech and debate, yearbook/media, rock climbing, cross country and downhill skiing, hiking, camping, weight-lifting, yoga, Chess Club, and several Project Discovery outdoor adventures.

Jobs for American Graduates (JAG) was started last year. It offers students career shadowing, internships, guest speaking opportunities, a chance to refine resume skills, and career and higher education field trips to promote graduation and routes into careers and college.

Nathan Hammock, a junior at PHS, is the one of the first 11th graders to attend the dual college credit format with Jump Start. He earned his academic and leadership letter and was one of the first to earn his PHS letterman jacket.

Last year, PHS had another student who was a member of the Junior Olympic Ski Team and finished his honors diploma and was able to continue his career as a professional skier. We have also had students who were able to race for Toyota on their racing team and race professional BMX circuits while attending PHS. These students were able to start their early careers and finish school with our flexible scheduling options.

The Alternative High School status allows PHS to offer many different formats to meet the diverse needs of the community. If students seek a small school where they get to know the staff and prefer extra one-on-one guidance, PHS and Carson Online might be the place for them.

As the Pioneer High School principal since 2007, I have seen many exciting changes occur with the help of caring and motivated staff. Last year, PHS served 273 high school students and 401 secondary students in Carson Online classes.

Jason Zona is principal of Pioneer High School. He can be reached at 775-283-1300.


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