Excel High School

Principal Message

We are a unique group. I've had the pleasure of working with your students on a nearly daily basis for the past semester and absolutely love them! The growth I've seen in many of them is not just educational. In education, sometimes we get caught only worrying about grades or only worrying about attendance, but we've worked to create an environment at Excel that honors student personality, relationships, and skills.

New goals

When we began the school year, Mr. Ponchene, Mr. Treadwell, and I sought to know our students better. Thus far we've felt more connected to our students and this has led to higher achievement. Part of this process was a bit scary both literally and figuratively. Our first activity was doing a "high ropes course" with the students. Students and staff climbed towers over two stories high. We cheered each other on and worked together to conquer goals. I noticed students who normally do not work together working and laughing together-- a connection that teachers reported wasn't seen the year prior. Since that initial field trip, we've had one major field trip a month, including a Seattle Sounders game and "arrow-tag." We see these activities that can be seen as "non-educational" having a real and tangible effect on the education that happens in the classroom.

End of the 1st Semester

On the last day of the semester, we did a field trip with some team building activities to help support our students socially. How fun! Students were able to form teams and shoot each other with arrows, playing a modified "dodge ball (arrow)" game. I can say that I was a target--or it seemed I was a target-- based on how much I got shot. We also hosted a party for a student who was working towards graduation. The students surprised him with a party, bringing treats and food for lunch as congratulations for graduating. It was a pretty special end to the semester.

2nd Semester

The 2nd semester brings a bit of change to the Excel classroom. Based on teacher and student feedback, we are revamping how the schedule works. We now are having students take all of the same courses and (on the back end) giving students credit that they need. This is exciting news! This is helping us blend the curriculum into more of a project based curriculum and help students always know what assignments are due.

I'm so glad that you're willing to share your students with us at Excel. When I tell people I work at an Alternative school, a lot of people cringe. I tell them that cringing is the farthest thing from the truth-- our kids are amazing individuals who flourish in a different environment. Thanks for sharing your kids with us so they may become our kids. In the coming semester we'll be focusing on careers and Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) field trips. Our hope is that perspective on pathways will give our students vision into their future.

Looking forward to a great semester!

Mr. Cochran

At Excel High School we believe that all students can learn skills that will impact their lives during and after Ellensburg School District. We believe in empowering students to find meaningful learning experiences that enhance their development through structured educational pathways.


Excel is a learning environment built specifically to student learning needs and upholds rigorous academic standards needed for future school and work success.

Andrew Ponchene, Instructor andrew.ponchene@esd401.org

Jeff Treadwell, Instructor jeffrey.treadwell@esd401.org

Courtney Schrader, Counselor courtney.schrader@esd401.org

Michael Johansen, Counselor michael.johansen@esd401.org

Scott Botten, Counselor scott.botten@esd401.org

Jeff Cochran, Principal jeff.cochran@esd401.org

Excel Files