BENSON — The Benson Digital Learning Center is about to make its mark on the Benson Public School System, not only for its name change from the original San Pedro Valley High School, but for its colors and mascot, which will now be directly aligned with Benson High.
For Shannon Sherman, former lead teacher and recently named principal of the Benson Digital Learning Center, the changes are ones she is extremely happy to see. “We not only changed the name of our school but the colors and mascot,” Sherman said.
"When we were San Pedro Valley High School, we were the maroon and gold Lynx but now we are the red and blue Bobcats. As a Benson alumnus, I am so excited that our Benson Digital Learning Center students will be a part of the Bobcat family and its amazing traditions – as we at Benson say ‘Once a Bobcat, Always a Bobcat.’”
The excitement of the new school and the new ideas surrounding the development of the Benson Digital Learning Center are definitely ongoing but it is the importance of what the school can do for the youth in the community that drives these changes.
“One thing we do know is that the Benson Digital Learning Center will offer a K-12 Online School for students,” Benson Public Schools superintendent Micah Mortensen said. “We recognize that parents may not be ready to send students back to our traditional schools, so we plan on meeting the needs of those parents at the Benson Digital Learning Center."
"We are excited to offer an online curriculum with support from our Benson staff. While these students may not be attending our traditional school, they will still be Benson Bobcats. Keeping all students in our Bobcat Family is critical.”
The Benson Digital Learning Center will be in the same location of the former San Pedro Valley High School. It will also have a K-12 online academy with its new title being the Benson Digital Learning Center Online. Additionally, it is expanding online opportunities for K-5 students as well as middle school and high school students.
“One of the goals of our online program is to make sure that our remote learning students feel connected to our school,” Sherman said. “We want all of our Benson Digital Learning Center and online students to feel that they are Bobcats and that they are always supported through weekly face-to-face instruction (possibly ZOOM meetings), home visits, and on-site instructional support when needed.”
Benson Digital Learning Center high school students will also have the opportunity to take one elective (generally a Career and Technical Education class / CTE) from Benson High School, and participate in Bobcat athletics and extracurricular activities. Middle school students, although they are not eligible to take any classes at Benson Middle School, will be eligible to participate in their middle school athletics and extracurricular activities.
“We are definitely glad that our middle school and high school students will be able to participate in Bobcat athletics and activities,” Sherman said. “They will be held to the same eligibility requirements to participate as BMS and BHS students. All four of our Benson Schools (Benson Elementary School, Benson Middle School, Benson High School, and Benson Digital Learning Center) will be working together for all of our students.”
Sherman is not only enthusiastic about the changes surrounding the newly named school but takes pride in the former San Pedro Valley High School and its many achievements. “Even through the changes we experienced in the Spring of 2020 with Covid-19 and the closing of our regular class format, we still graduated 16 students who had all signed a commitment to graduate pledge and who all accomplished that goal."
"I was so proud to be associated with San Pedro Valley High School and now I’m excited to start this new adventure for Benson Public Schools, our students, and our community.”
Joining Sherman at the new school will be Kirsten Smith, school secretary and Steps2Success program coordinator, Michael Powers, online support teacher, and Denise Moyers, para-professional instructor.