The Dubuque Community School District's Alternative Learning Center provides specialized curriculum to engage students outside of the typical public High School environment. Formerly called Central Alternative High School, students in this program have won national awards for books they co-authored as classroom projects.
City Government in Dubuque (1994), a book on how local city government works, was created through interviews of local employees and members of the municipal government. In 1995 the book was awarded the Excellence in Local Government Award presented by the International City and County Managers Association.
The Tuskegee Airmen: Victory at Home and Abroad (1998) involved students in American history and English interviewing members of the famous flying force and publishing a 230-page reference. The proceeds of from sales of the book exceeded $10,000 and were given to the Red Tail Project in Minneapolis to restore a P-51 Mustang to honor the Tuskegee fliers.
A Tribute to Victory: Dubuque in World War II, (2000) involved American history and English students interviewing local citizens affected by the war. The book received the Loren Horton Local and Community History Award from the State Historical Society of Iowa in May 2001. In September 2001 the book received the National Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History. Sales of the book helped Central to contribute $5,000 to the National [[[WORLD WAR II]] Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Shifting Sands: A Seminar on the Middle East (2002) involved three Global Issues students organizing a public seminar on Middle East issues with guests from the Stanley Foundation.
Civil Rights: A Central Issue (2003) placed American history and English students into research about the American Civil Rights Movement. Their book was presented to the public during a seminar at LORAS COLLEGE in March 2003. Members of the “Little Rock Nine,” African-American students who challenged their city’s segregation laws in 1957, attended the session.
Central students were involved in working with civic planners, local historians, and archivists during their research into the SHOT TOWER. In 2005 student articles outlining progress and facts discovered were published in the TELEGRAPH HERALD.
The Cold War: A Study of Conflict and Change (2007) brought the students to the study of the years 1945 to 1991. A 276-page research book was produced and a seminar was held with speakers from the Berlin Airlift and the son of Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 spy plane pilot shot down by the Russians in 1960.