Phoenix 2.0: Helping every student succeed

About 90 overage middle school students are headed to high school with a new determination to succeed thanks to the Phoenix 2.0 accelerated graduation plan that helped them catch up. 

Phoenix 2.0 accelerates students’ progress in their eighth-grade core classes, while simultaneously putting them in a position to earn industry certifications and high school credits. The overarching goal is to offer opportunities to a group of students that is often forgotten to help them graduate from high school in three years.

Director of Districtwide Student Initiatives Leslie Swann explained that the students receive access to their core curriculum online, so they are able to work on their own timeline in addition to receiving support from their teachers during the school day. They also attend classes at the Career Institutes on a regular basis, where they pursue a career pathway and gain high school credits. One student worked so hard that they earned four high school credits throughout the 2021-2022 school year in addition to completing their middle school core requirements. 

The Phoenix 2.0 team is proud of students’ development in the areas of self-management of learning, self-awareness and self-regulation, which are all necessary life skills. The team’s combined efforts yielded favorable results. About 65 percent of the students acquired industry certifications with over 195 high school course completions.

“We are really excited,” Swann said. “With Phoenix, these students are our priority. We are very intentional about exposing them to opportunities, and 100 percent of the students who applied to a collegiate academy or a choice program were accepted to that program for next school year.” 

While the Phoenix students—who are 15 or 16 years old on average—remain in their home middle school campus’ database, they attend classes at one of three Phoenix sites: Hillcrest High School, Spruce High School and Skyline High School. 

“It is a wonderful opportunity for the students to be around students who are their age, so they do not feel like they’re too old to be at the middle school campus,” Swann said. “They are in a setting with age-appropriate peers, which helps build self-esteem in those particular students.” 

No students are required to participate in Phoenix 2.0. The choice program is available to any high school-aged middle school students who want to take advantage of the opportunity. While the courses can be challenging, the results speak for themselves. 

“We asked the students, ‘Would you recommend this program to someone who may have been in your situation?’ and 100 percent of them said yes,” Swann said. “They would absolutely recommend the program to their peers who need it.” 

The students are proud of their accomplishments and are positioned for high school success, and now Swann is asking staff across the district to spread the word about Phoenix 2.0 so more families learn about this incredible resource for their students. 

“We really want to celebrate Phoenix,” she said. “To see the metamorphosis by mid-semester and then at the end, it is a testament to working through challenges and trying to provide the very best opportunity to students.” 

To learn more about the Phoenix 2.0 program, visit

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