New program helps students get ahead

Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 3:32 p.m.

As we start the second semester in this brand new calendar year, the Alachua County school district is offering opportunities for students to be successful even when they have not put forth their best efforts.

Students who were retained in eighth grade, and who are recommended by their principal, will have an opportunity to catch up with their peers and possibly enter their sophomore year of school in the fall, if they are successful.

The program is called the "Ninth Grade Prep Program."

Students who are being recommended by their principal are students who have shown promise and self-motivation.

These students, throughout last year, were retained because of low test scores and near-misses with poor performances.

Since they were so close to passing, they are given another opportunity to move forward.

This is a real golden opportunity for these students to benefit from earlier mistakes of the past.

In order for students to engage in this program, there must be a commitment from parents, who must have a conference with the principal or other school administrators before enrolling their child into the Ninth Grade Prep Program.

Parents must agree to maintain an up-to-date emergency card at the Loften Professional Academies High School and participate in phone calls or conferences, if required by the student's teacher.

The program is designed to allow the students to "catch up" failed middle school courses and also to earn a maximum of four high school credits.

Again, the goal is to have students enter high school as a sophomore in August 2010, and be "age-even" with his/her peers.

If successful, students will be able to build upon their confidence and make tremendous learning gains and career plans for the future. Sandy Hollinger, our deputy superintendent, is constantly seeking ways to help students achieve.

Many hours of brainstorming sessions are spent addressing the needs of children who may not be having the greatest of success in school and who need a little extra help.

Our deputy superintendent and her staff are exploring every opportunity to assist students who have fallen short; however, keep in mind this program does not apply to children who have dropped out of school or who have severe poor attendance.

Other interventions are considered for children who fall in these categories.

For those students who have selected to apply for the Ninth Grade Prep Program through the selection process, course work will be provided at Loften, which is located on what is called the Lake Road, which is also E. University Avenue.

Classes will be small in order to ensure success for all of the students entering the program.

The school will provide transportation information for students who are currently attending Loften.

In some cases, some students will have to provide their own transportation.

Students who have significant tardies, absentee issues, and behavior concerns will be eliminated from the program and returned to their zoned school.

Parents will be notified of the action taken in advance.

This is a tremendous opportunity for this population of students.

I hope every student in this program will take advantage of the learning opportunities and grow beyond all expectations.

This is going to require hard work and dedication on your part.

Very seldom are there programs to give children second chances, but this is one you cannot allow to slip away.

In this new year of 2010, "Good Luck or Beuna Suerte or Bene rem gere."

Philoron Wright is assistant to the superintendent of community and schools for Alachua County Public Schools.

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