An Historic Overview
Keema High School (KHS) has evolved from an idea by one teacher in 1991 to a large independent study school offering academic counseling, computer labs, ROP, Work Experience and many other student services. When Randy Orzalli, the current Director of Educational Options, was first assigned two periods of independent study at Highlands High School, he became very interested in that program and how best to offer it to the students of Grant District. His conclusion was that the District and students would be better served by one school providing only independent study rather than a few periods of it on each District campus.
With the election of Bryce Vernon to the Grant Board in 1994, that idea became a reality and in the fall of 1995 the Independent Learning Center (ILC) opened its doors in one room on the campus of VistaNuevaContinuationSchool. Word spread throughout the district among students, parents, and teachers. Books were purchased, teachers hired, forms created, procedures established, and what eventually became Keema High took life. After several years being known as the ILC it was decided to name the school after Bud Keema. Mr. Keema was the superintendent of GrantDistrict from 1947 to 1972 and oversaw construction of most of the districts current campuses. His innovations and leadership seemed appropriate for Grant’s newly established independent study school.
As Keema (KHS) grew, the need for its own campus became apparent. Soon after it was announced in 1996 that McClellan Air Force Base was to be decommissioned, steps were initiated to apply for a building for an independent study school. It was a long and arduous application process, but in July of 2001, GrantDistrict was awarded the Global Communications Headquarters. In addition to Keema High, the building now houses the District’s Instructional Technology Department, Educational Options Department, Adult Education’s Allied Health Program, and Twin Rivers Community Charter’s CommunityCollaborativeCharterSchool.
Independent Study is a voluntary placement program. Keema students come from all of the District sites - grades 7 through 12. Students elect to transfer to Keema and may return to their home campus at any time. Keema students choose independent study for a variety of reasons including credit deficiency, health (including pregnancy), and work. Many young people in our community have to take on adult responsibilities at a very early age. It is not unusual for Keema students to work full or part time to support ailing parents.
During their stay at Keema, students complete the same course work required for graduation by Twin Rivers Unified School District Board Policy and California State Education Code. They take yearly assessment tests and must pass the California High School Exit Exam. Keema students must meet independent study attendance requirements as outlined in Twin Rivers Unified School District Administrative Regulations. Their attendance is measured by the quantity and quality of work they submit weekly to their assigned instructor.
KeemaHigh School is funded at the same rate as the other district high schools. KHS receives State school funds based on their Average Daily Attendance (ADA) as measured in April. In 2001 Keema applied for and received a $163,000 Digital High School Grant. Keema’s Site Council meets monthly making decisions on the needs, goals, and objectives of the school.
Keema is a fully accredited site having received the highest rating (6 years) from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in 2003 and 2009. Keema has come a long way from the spark of an idea to an independent school that has over 1500 students pass through its doors each year. There are many inspiring stories at graduation each year about how the existence of an independent study school in TwinRiversUnifiedSchool District allowed these graduates to receive a high school diploma, many the first ever in their family.