One day this winter at tiny Onalaska High School in southwest Washington, senior Reagan Priest sat at a big-screen Mac and put the finishing touches on an essay she hoped would earn her a college scholarship.
While state law requires that every Washington public-school student create a “high school and beyond” plan, a collection of paper or digital documents that helps students think through their future, many students and districts treat it as a checklist. Only about 40 schools offered it as a for-credit class in 2016, according to the state superintendent’s office, and most of those are advisory periods that meet for a short time at the beginning of the day.
But at Onalaska, teachers Kaylene Kenny and Tom Phimister offer a sixth-period “Senior Success” class that meets for 50 minutes a day, all year long.
All the school’s seniors must take that class, where they write college essays, apply for scholarships …