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Frequently Asked Questions

What are Carpe Diem and Sonoma Mountain High Schools and where are they located? 

Each of these high schools is a “magnet” school, offering an alternative program for students who would benefit from:
  • Smaller school setting 
  • Close contact between students and staff 
  • More individualized instruction 
Carpe Diem High School is located on the southern edge of the Petaluma High School campus, between “C” wing and the Wildlife Museum. Sonoma Mt. is located on the edge of the Casa Grande HS campus.

What type of student is enrolled? How many students are there?

CD-SM are designed as alternatives for students who have not been successful at the traditional high school, putting them at risk of dropping out. New students are usually 10th or 11th graders, though some 9th and 12th graders are accepted.

Students are enrolled in either school on a voluntary basis. Students who have felt disconnected from the traditional school, resulting in attendance issues or problems earning sufficient academic credit, might particularly benefit from the program because of the emphasis on daily attendance and the opportunity to make up lost credits. Up to 32 students can be enrolled at each school at any one time.

What is the enrollment process?

There are two parts to the enrollment process. Both must be completed before a student can begin at Carpe Diem-Sonoma Mtn.

The student:

a) completes a short questionnaire and has an introductory interview with the principal.


and the student:

b) meets with his/her current school counselor, who will assist in determining if the placement seems appropriate, and then bring the transfer request to the district Transition Team.

The Transition Team will act on the request, considering the student’s attendance, achievement, aptitude, and behavior; space available at the school; and whether the school can adequately address any special needs or circumstances the student might have.

NOTE: There is often a waiting list for available spaces. Students must continue attending and completing work in their current placement until the actual day of transfer. Failing to do so may be cause to delay, or even deny, the transfer.

What are the school hours? 

The school day goes from 8:30 AM to 3 PM, with the teachers providing instruction from 8:30 AM to 2:15 PM (12:50 on Wednesdays). From 2:15– 3:00 PM each day is reserved for the teachers’ prep time and office hours; however, it is also an independent study period for those who need the extra time to catch up or to get ahead. Students—especially if they are new to the site—are sometimes asked to stay until 3:00 to make sustained, satisfactory progress towards graduation. The instructional day is organized into short, focused periods.

What courses of study are available at CD-SM?

Instruction is focused primarily on the core subjects of English, history, science, and math at all high school grade levels. Students and staff work together to create an Individual Learning Plan, which details the courses necessary for each student to earn a high school diploma. 

To move at a traditional pace toward graduation, students must earn 30 or more credits each semester. The core program at CD-SM may or may not provide sufficient credit-earning opportunities for students to achieve this, depending on an individual student’s credit status, ability, interest, and willingness to work. Many CD-SM students earn around 35 credits, especially if they are working hard to earn good grades. Some students find it necessary to earn a portion of these credits for work completed outside the regular school day.

How do CD-SM students earn enough credits, if they can’t do it all at Carpe Diem or Sonoma Mountain?

More than enough work is provided each day for students to complete their core academic requirements. Those who are making up for previous failures, however, have to work more each day to graduate on time, or continue at their current pace and spend more than four years in high school.

Those who want to graduate on time can earn additional credits through a combination of after-school courses taken through CD-SM, courses at another school such as Petaluma High or Santa Rosa Junior College, or through pre-approved independent study activities.

Students who are in serious need of credit recovery may be better placed at another alternative site, such as San Antonio HS.

How do CD-SM students earn elective course credit?

The average student needs 65 credits of elective coursework for high school graduation. Elective credit may be earned in several ways:
  • CD-SM Physical Education – a limited program, with in-school and outside school components.
  • Study Skills classes at CD-SM
  • A limited number of elective classes offered at CD-SM
  • Classes at Petaluma High School (during the afternoon block, on a space available basis)
  • Limited classes at the Junior College--each junior college unit is worth 3.3 high school credits!
  • Petaluma Adult School--limited availability for last semester seniors only
  • Outside work experience (OWE)
  • Summer school for seniors
  • Pre-approved, accredited Online or Correspondence Courses

Are there any extracurricular activities at CD-SM?

Extracurricular activities are an important component of the overall program. Field trips and monthly day hikes are regularly planned. Attendance and participation at many of these events is expected of all CD-SM students to remain in good standing.

What about extracurricular activities at Petaluma/Casa High campuses?

Students in good standing have the opportunity to participate in many activities at PHS/CGHS, including dances and even interscholastic sports. (A 2.0 GPA is required for athletic eligibility.)  HOWEVER, CD AND SM DO NOT OFFER COMPETITIVE ATHLETICS AT THE SCHOOL SITE.

What district services are available at Carpe Diem and Sonoma Mountain?

Students are entitled to all district services for which they qualify, including bus transportation, free or reduced lunches (at PHS/CGHS), counseling, career exploration, and appropriate assessments. Limited, part-time Resource Specialist support is available for qualified students. Some support services may be more readily available for students enrolled at one of the larger sites. 

Who are the staff members at Carpe Diem and Sonoma Mountain? 

The staff consists of four full time teachers and other personnel who provide additional clerical, counseling, and administrative support. The entire staff is committed to serving the needs of individual students by providing a high-quality program with an integrated curriculum. Students work with two teachers each day, who rotate between the two school sites to provide the complete core program in English, History, Math, and Science.