By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
SHANNON – Shannon High School will increase its efforts next year to help its newest students get a strong start.
The school will add a freshman academy this fall, ensuring that its ninth-graders get increased personalized attention.
“That ninth-grade year seems to be a major year for all kids,” Shannon Principal Robert Smith said of the need for the new structure. “They fail that first grade and are a year behind, and before you know it, they are two years behind and ready to drop out of school.”
Freshmen classes will mostly be contained in one wing of the school’s building and several outside buildings, a similar arrangement to previous years.
A more dramatic difference is that freshmen now will have a unique schedule, with the bell ringing at a slightly different time than it does for upperclassmen, meaning that they will not be in the hallways at the same time as the older students.
The approximately 150 freshmen also will go to lunch at a different time than the rest of the 660-student school.
Guest speakers will address Shannon’s freshmen each month. Local clergy, public servants, businessmen and college representatives will speak about setting goals, careers and the importance of academics to the students’ futures.
All of the school’s incoming freshmen will be screened at the beginning of the school year to determine their academic strengths and weaknesses. High-achieving students will be placed in accelerated classes and struggling ones will receive extra help.
All ninth-graders will receive progress reports every three weeks, while the rest of the school will get them every nine weeks.
“We are trying to focus on really strong academics in the freshman year so it will set the foundation for 10th to 12th grades,” Smith said.
An assistant principal, Dusty Kelly, and a counselor, Toby Bowen, will be dedicated to working with the school’s freshmen. The counselor will help the students focus on their career goals and on what academic prerequisites they must master to achieve them.
“I think that will be a big asset to kids,” Smith said. “If you can help them get focused on a career, it gives them something to work toward. If they have a dream they want to pursue, you can show them a step-by-step way all through high school.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.