Freshmen academy gives head start

PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry High School is offering at-risk youth a freshman academy.

The freshman academy is offered to incoming ninth-graders at the high school who are considered high risk to drop out during their high school years.

The middle and high school work closely together to determine who those teens are based on income, grades patterns in school and whether they could be the first generation in their family to go to college.

Two teachers — Marie Hauser and Amy Knopf — work with up to 20 students each summer to help them prepare for high school and hopefully be more prepared on the first day of school.

The Freedom Academy starts about six weeks before school begins. On that first day students are given a laptop to complete course work they will be assigned over the following weeks.

The academy is a hybrid course, students will visit the school three to four times during the six-week period whereas the rest will be completed online.

The students complete a career management course during this program, which is a requirement to graduate. The class is run by one chosen district teacher along with Hauser and Knopf.

This starts the students off with one high school credit that they have earned before any other students. Hopefully, giving them encouragement that they are ahead and excitement to start school, said Matthew White, assistant principal at East Surry High School.

During days when students are at the school they focus on course work from 8 a.m. until about 9 a.m. The students then work on a graduation project portfolio, with the project also a requirement to graduate.

After they work on the portfolio, the students venture on a scavenger hunt throughout the school. The goal is to help students become familiar with where things are throughout the school, White said.

Following the scavenger hunt the school provides a free lunch to the students.

The day is wrapped up with a math activity.

Students also will take a field trip to several local businesses in Pilot Mountain, including Sports Solutions, Wound-About Inc., Surry Community College Pilot Center, and the E-911 communication center.

A presentation also will be made by a representative from the State Employees’ Credit Union and the students will participate in an activity where they are given a job and income and have to essentially create a budget by which to live.

The goal of the academy is to get the students and teachers familiar with each other, that way the scary aspect of the first day of school, in a new school, is taken away.

“With the students meeting and knowing the teachers and the teachers knowing more about the students, this really helps our goal as a school district to personalize education for each student,” said White.

Eva Queen can be reached at 336-415-4739.

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