North Portland’s Open Meadow High School, part of an alternative education program that opened in 1971, will close in the next 18 months.

Andrew Mason, Open Meadow’s executive director, sent an email to Open Meadow parents Thursday with the news that the high school would closed during the next 18 months. As a result, the school will no longer enroll students, and when the school year ends in June, students will move out of the current building at 7602 N. Emerald Ave. Students who are juniors now will graduate in June 2015 as the high school’s last class, Mason said.

“After a long and careful strategic planning process that began in 2010, Open Meadow recognizes our students deserve stronger supports and services than we can provide under the current high school structure, funding and partner model,” Mason wrote to parents and supporters.

Open Meadow will continue to provide services through its middle school, Step Up and career services programs. Mason said the program would announce in April plans to “stake our future on ‘early engagement’ by working with our youth before they become disconnected from their education.”

“This is a very big deal, and deeply regrettable for currently enrolled students and families,” Mason said. “We know that this proud community of past and present students, parents and staff will grieve this loss.”

'Excitement about the future'

Open Meadow Learning Center opened in 1971 as an educational program of Portland Youth Advocates, serving homeless Portland street youth in a downtown storefront. Eight years later, the Open Meadow incorporated as an independent nonprofit. In 2000, the program changed its name to Open Meadow Alternative Schools.

By 2007, Open Meadow served nearly 600 young people between 10 and 24 in seven programs at six sites, including public middle and high schools. IN 2009, Open Meadow’s Step Up program expanded to serve Gresham-Barlow School District at Gresham High School.

Mason said he was “heartbroken” at the high school’s closing. “At the same time, I also have excitement about the future of Open Meadow,” he said. “Our middle school, Step Up and Career Services programs will continue to serve the North Portland community, as passionately as we have for the past four decades.”

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