An inside look into PASS Academy


Photo by: Lane Phifer

Story by Lane Phifer, Multimedia Editor

In May of 2018, Pittsburg Alternative School Setting (PASS) Academy opened its doors to the students of Pittsburg High School, (PHS). 

This program is designed for students who may have various difficulties in a larger school setting where they are able to work successfully and at their own pace.

According to the article, “USD 250 Board Meeting — PASS Academy sees success,” written by the Morning Sun, prior to PASS Academy, students had the option to enroll in the Crawford County Virtual Learning Center (COVLC), which is still available today. 

Since the program began, PASS has benefited a multitude of students by helping them improve their grades and allowing them to graduate either early or on time. 

“I think seeing students who have not had success in the regular classroom come over and have a great deal of success towards graduation has been great,” lead teacher Trevor Elliott said. “I’ve helped several students get their credits caught up and I have also gotten some students who needed to refocus on their school work to go back to PHS. Seeing students being successful is definitely the best part of the job.”

I think seeing students who have not had success in the regular classroom come over and have a great deal of success towards graduation has been great,”

— Trevor Elliott

Students can transfer over to PASS for multiple reasons. Such as PHS administrative placement, need for credit recovery, transferred in from another virtual school setting, or switched from another school late into the semester. However, students can also apply to be a part of the program if they meet the requirements. 

“Some students need a setting that has fewer people and distractions to complete their school work. Some students need a quieter atmosphere due to social anxiety. Other students benefit from the ability to recover their credits at a faster pace due to the classes being online,” Elliott said. “PASS benefits students by allowing them a location to complete their education in a way that suits their learning style a little bit better.”

Junior Emiliano Cruz transferred to PASS two and a half years ago by administrator recommendation due to his behavior and grades. Since he transferred, Cruz’s GPA went from a 1.6 to a 2.7 and has been able to get ahead of his credits. 

According to the PHS Handbook, “once a student has been placed into this program, they must meet PASS expectations to be placed back into the regular educational setting.”

Due to meeting these expectations, Cruz now spends his mornings at PHS from 1 to 4 hours and the remainder of his school day is at PASS. 

“When I first started, I was two or three credits behind because I was failing a lot of classes, but now I’m a credit two credits ahead,” Cruz said. “Switching over to PASS has straightened up my behavior and my attitude more than anything because I have Mr. Elliott to walk me through my school work. I’ve matured a lot and like the balancing of going to both PHS and PASS.”

While students like Cruz decided to go the face-to-face route this year, students like senior Kaitlin Mulnix, choose to go with the remote learning option. 

“My Mom and I decided that I should be a remote student this year since I have lupus and am considered to be high risk,” Mulnix said. “Ever since I went fully online, it’s been going really well. It’s nice to be able to be at home to do work and not worry about getting sick.”

Mulnix decided to transfer to PASS Academy in Oct. of 2019. Because of the program, her grades and mental health have improved over time and she plans to graduate before the end of the semester. 

“Being at PASS has definitely affected me in a positive way. When I was at PHS I felt depressed for a while, PASS is a much better environment for me and causes fewer migraines,” Mulnix said. “I’ve been able to work at my own pace and because of PASS, I’m able to graduate from high school early and start college classes a lot sooner.”

Once Mulnix graduates, she plans to receive her general education at Labette Community College (LCC) and then to transfer at Pittsburg State University (PSU) to major in psychology. 

“I want to become a therapist because I love helping people. Listening to people’s issues and being able to make a difference makes me happy,” Mulnix said. “By going to PASS, I was able to take classes that will help me in the field that I couldn’t have taken at PHS. I was able to go at my own pace and it was honestly the best decision I ever made for my schooling.”