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Whitnall extends a helping hand to different students

Seaprate programs focus on incoming freshmen and struggling high-schoolers

Aug. 23, 2013

Greenfield — When Whitnall High School opens its doors for the start of school year Sept. 3, it will offer two new assistance programs — one to help incoming freshmen settle in and another to help students of any age keep pace.

Either way, it's all about helping students succeed during key transitions in their lives.

Ninth Grade Academy

As of mid-August, 10 freshmen had signed up for a Ninth Grade Academy, which will be held during what is known as "zero hour" — when students arrive well before the official start of the school day.

Instead of studying or getting help with assignments from teachers in the library, working out in the fitness center, eating breakfast or socializing in the cafeteria, academy freshmen will meet with teachers assigned to the program.

On Mondays, they will set goals for the week based on their assignments. Tuesdays and Thursdays will be devoted to completing work, monitoring grades, attending club meetings, getting help from teachers or attending study sessions based on teacher requests. The academy won't meet on Wednesdays.

Fridays will be devoted to evaluating the weekly goal. Reflective emails will be sent to parents.

In addition, academy teachers will reinforce how to take good notes, study habits and strategies introduced in the classroom.

The academy will be held during the first quarter.

Help for others

The high school also has a program aimed at extending a helping hand to all students before they fall too far behind academically.

Unlike the Ninth Grade Academy, this program isn't voluntary, given that the goal is to keep students from failing classes, said Principal Jackie Winter.

Teachers will keep an eye on students' grades. If a student appears to be heading for trouble, even as early as the end of the first quarter, he or she will be moved into the mandatory academic assistance program, Winter said.

It, too, will meet during "zero hour," when students will meet with teachers in the academic areas in which they are struggling.

The goal is to give a helping hand right where it's needed — "to meet kids where they are at," Winter said.

Teachers will help them establish an individual plan, she explained, and that can greatly vary from one student to another.

"We know students struggle at different points in their lives for different reasons," Winter said.

Juniors and seniors with multiple failures will develop a plan for graduation that could involve the school's credit recovery program.

"Hopefully, if we do this, we won't have students significantly behind," Winter said.

— Jane Ford-Stewart

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