West Clermont implements ‘transition’ program

To ensure the success of all incoming freshman, Amelia and Glen Este High schools have implemented ninth grade transition programs for the 2006-2007 school year.

“This new transition program is a long-range initiative to provide academic support, social support, and behavioral support to all incoming freshmen so that they will ultimately be more successful as students in both high schools,” West Clermont Superintendent Gary Brooks said.

Glen Este High School Principal Dennis Ashworth and Amelia High School Principal Keith Hickman presented an update of the freshmen transition programs at the West Clermont Board of Education’s Oct. 9 meeting.

“We know that ninth grade is a transitional year where students are most likely to fail or drop out,” Ashworth said. “This is a pilot program designed to ensure the success of all ninth graders. The transition team, comprised of teachers, parents, and upper-classmen (called student ambassadors), will create a safe, structured learning environment that fosters individual student growth.”

Both principals want incoming freshmen to realize the what, where, when, why, and who of the high school within the first few weeks of school.

“Incoming freshmen are understandably nervous,” Ashworth said. “We planned the program to take the edge off of those preliminary nerves. That way, they immediately know where they are at, what they are doing, where they are supposed to be, and who they need to be talking to.”

After updating the board on the initial planning and implementation stages of the program, Ashworth and Hickman outlined the program’s specific goals.

The paramount goal in the transition program’s design is that all freshmen must pass their core content area courses; these are math, science, social studies, and english.

“This step is most important to ensure success because all freshmen must earn 5.25 credits to advance to their sophomore year,” said Hickman. “Another important goal of the program is academic intervention.”

For those students who are having difficulty or are in danger of falling behind, both high schools have implemented academic intervention programs.

According to Ashworth, all ninth graders requiring this intervention will receive it in a variety of ways.

“We have established and implemented different plans to address academic struggle,” he explains. “We have an advisory intervention, a lunch hour intervention, math and reading intervention classes, and even after school study sessions.”

Going one step further, West Clermont is requiring all freshmen to sign up for at least one extracurricular activity to keep them interested in school.

Another goal of the program is to create consistent daily structures among the transition team and the students.

“We are isolating freshmen for most of the day in different wings of the buildings,” said Ashworth. “Some of the students are finding this consistent regimen a bit monotonous (which administration considers a compliment). Students are learning that there is a routine they must work through every day. There are no surprises. They know what is expected of them and therefore they are prepped and ready.”

Freshman Staci Boothe said that the transition program has already made an impact.

“It has been fun,” she said. “The one-on-one attention I have received has made starting high school much easier. The program is worthwhile and I am pleased that the school cares about me that much. From the first day, I did not feel lost, I felt like I belonged.”

Although the success of the transition program cannot be measured until the data is collected and analyzed at the end of the school year, both principals are certain that their efforts will not go unrewarded.

“We want to make high school count,” said Hickman. “We want ninth graders to easily make the transition, and ultimately, successfully graduate. We know that ninth grade is an awkward year for kids and this new program will make the transition easier. The school district board, the high school administrations, and the transition teams are committed to making this program a success.”