Complete High School Maize recognized for 2020 National School of Character award

Caitlyn Gregory said when she first entered Complete High School Maize as a student, she felt like she “landed on a soft pillow.”

She was 17, pregnant and her mother had recently died. She said by the time she graduated in 2011, Complete High School had “prepared me for life.”

Now, Gregory has returned to Complete High School as a science teacher. On Tuesday, the school was recognized as a 2020 National School of Character — the second year in a row for the Maize USD 266 school.

Gregory, administrators, teachers and students spoke via zoom to the State Board of Education about how the school provides what students need to succeed and shares that message with other schools. Complete High School Maize is an alternative high school for students who have difficulty in the traditional school environment. CHSM students must meet the same curriculum requirements as all students.

The national award is given for dedicated focus on character development that has a positive effect on academic achievement, student behavior and school climate.

Dr. Kristy Custer, principal of Complete High School, said many of the students also work on certification programs at Wichita State University Technical College while about 10 percent enlist into the military.

When the pandemic shut down the school in March, staff made sure they kept in contact with students, provided monthly “goody bags,” and helped them maintain a positive attitude.

Sheryl Tillery, a business teacher, said when schools were shut down, “I feel like we did everything we could possibly do to make sure our kids knew they were being taken care of and that we loved them and missed them.”

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