Alternative School Gets New Building and New Name

By Kaileigh Deacon


A new name may not seem like much, but for the kids and staff at the Calais Alternative School, a new name means everything. Formally Calais Day Treatment, the Calais Alternative School was granted the name change at the last school committee meeting and it is one of only a few major changes for the school this year. Over the summer he school moved from the portable classrooms on Palmer St. to the building previously used by DHHS on South Street.

Not everyone recognizes what exactly the Calais Alternative School is and what they do there. For starters, the school is just that: a school, containing four classrooms, teaching staff and support staff. The students that go there are just that: students, who, like all students, need an education. Due to behavioral issues and other factors, these students cannot receive that education in the public school setting. 

There are four classrooms: elementary, high elementary, middle school, and high school. Each classroom has a teacher but they also have 2-3 behavioral staff and ed techs to make sure that all the students get exactly what they need. Each classroom will focus on one subject at a time but within that subject each student may be at different levels. With the help of the ed techs and the behavioral specialists each student gets the help they need. 

Calais Alternative School accepts students from all across Washington County based on referral from the school. Once there, the students are geared toward learning in an environment that works for them. In addition to working in the four classrooms, they also allow students that need it to work independently. 

The new school on South Street is every bit what a school should be with classrooms and offices for the staff. The new school also has space for the behavioral needs of students without impacting the others.

In addition to their core education, the students at CAS work on five skill points that help them.  These five skills are being in their seat, doing their work, being safe, showing respect, and then one individualized skill point that the child needs to focus on. Students earn points for achieving their skill points which they can use to buy small prizes. 

While the students get to have their own school, for most students, their time at the Calais Alternative School is temporary. For some, their time at the school will be several months, or years, depending on the situation. While there, the students will work on reintegrating back into the public school system. Although students come from all over Washington County, the Calais schools are used when working the students back into the public schools. 

“The goal is always to get them back into the public school,” Debbie O’Neill, the Behavioral Coordinator at CAS, said. 

So far the new school year with the new school building and the new school name is off to a great start with the kids and the staff very excited to be in their new setting.