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Albany Options School graduated its largest class ever on Monday at Linn-Benton Community College, with 54 students receiving diplomas and an additional 43 who earned GEDs.

“In our last five years, we’ve virtually doubled the number of our graduates (who received diplomas),” said teacher Anna Harryman.

Just last year, there were only 38 students who received diplomas.

The change corresponds with a switch in schedules at the school that started last fall. The school day was expanded by about two hours, so students could attend additional classes.

“Students were able to earn more credits at accelerated rates,” Harryman said. “This was an exceptionally hard-working senior class. Many students took advantage of the additional classes they could take.”

Under the old schedule, a student could earn 7.5 credits during the entire school year. Most students at AOS were able to take nine credits in 2015-16 and some were even able to earn 10.5 credits.

“We would like to believe our graduation numbers will continue to grow, but we’re not planning to make any changes to the structure of our school next year,” Harryman said.

Last year, only 26 students earned GEDs, but that was lower than previous years because the GED exam was made significantly more difficult, Harryman said. “Staff was able to adjust and assist the students in meeting those GED goals, or benchmarks. ... We didn’t know what the changes were going to be until they happened,” she added.

Albany Options School is the alternative public high school for the Greater Albany Public Schools.

Students are referred to AOS if they are at risk of not graduating on time from high school. “These are students, who, for whatever reason, need a smaller class size. Our largest class is 15 students,” Harryman said.

AOS has about 100 students at any given time during the school year working toward a high school diploma, she said.

The school also adopted a new mascot of a knight with a shield this school year.

Students helped create and voted to approve the mascot in fall 2014. The Knight is a source of school pride — even though AOS doesn’t have sports teams or many traditional extracurricular activities — as the Knight exemplifies many of the values the school teaches.

Albany Options School was formed in 2003 and got its own building at 701 19th Ave. in 2008.

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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