HARRISON – Exchange students at Harrison High School this year are Carlotta Postigo Del Ser of Spain, Merja Sarholz of Germany, and Kerem Turkus of Turkey. Postigo Del Ser and Sarholz visited the April 11 meeting of the Harrison Community Schools Board of Education. The annual visit to the BOE where exchange students introduce themselves to the board and then relate some of their experiences to board members usually happens earlier in the year, but as with most things in the past couple years, the visit was delayed a bit.
Board president Chad Hathcock encouraged the girls to describe what things they like at HHS, what things are different, and how HHS is different from schools in their home countries.
Both students spoke of how sports are addressed quite differently in their countries than here.
“Something I really like is sports and school spirit here,” Sarholz said. “We really don’t have that in Germany, because sports is something that’s separate from school. It gives us an opportunity to see school more as a fun place than just school.”
Hathcock said that was something the board has heard over the years, as a lot of other countries do not have sports within their school systems.
“Everything in the school is so different, because like in Spain and I think Germany, too, it’s like school is studying,” Postigo Del Ser said. “And here it’s more like ‘learn’ by not ‘play,’ but in all ways. It’s really good.”
Both students agreed they were enjoying their time here.
Mick Haley informed the board of the upcoming Harrison Alumni gathering tentatively slated for Memorial Weekend Saturday, May 28, noting the Harrison Alumni organization had the longest running tradition in the state.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to get a bunch of people from different age groups all together,” Haley said. “It’s really, really cool. We’d love to see any Harrison alumni attend.”
Haley said the event raises money for the Harrison Alumni Scholarship which is awarded to a student who is the child of an alumni – and the greater the attendance, the larger the scholarship. He also noted the event is volunteer driven, and that any more formal support HCS could provide would be welcome. Haley concluded by saying that alumni, in turn, would appreciate being more involved in the school.
The board also heard a presentation from Joe Ashcroft, Harrison High School principal, and Kelly Lipovsky, Title Director, about the Hive Remediation Program.
Ashcroft said he anticipated the pilot program would include grades 8-11, and explained that while high school students are usually thought of as ninth-, 10th- and 11th-grade students, when they are behind on credits toward graduation they are not truly in those grades.
“The idea is to provide these students with more direct instruction,” he said. “And try to move away from where we’ve gone the last couple years where they’re just working through PLATO, or other online courses.”
Ashcroft said students were seen to struggle more with online courses, and that the school wants to be proactive by having more eighth- and ninth-graders going to that area.
“So we can provide them with more academic supports, so they start seeing success a little bit more and provide them with more socio-emotional supports also,” he said. “And then move them right back into the high school as they make up those credits, for some of them, and the other students start getting some credits earned from the younger ages.”
Ashcroft said that because the whole idea is to help students graduate, the expectation is to see more positive outcomes at the end of school.
“So, we’re looking at this pilot program for about two years,” he said. “After every year, we’ll just continue to reevaluate it, and sit down with the teachers to see where we can make it better for the kids.”
Lipovsky pointed out to board members that their packets contained some information about things the Admin Committee had been brainstorming.
“Ultimately, just taking our Alternative Ed program and trying to revamp it so these kids are more successful,” she said.
Lipovsky went on to describe how the Hive Remediation program and Link Learning differ, and apply to different students in the middle school and high school.
“Some of the kids, by the time we were offering credit recovery or an Alternative setting, they were already a couple years behind in course credit,” she said. “They were feeling defeated, so we want them to be successful and get the services they need sooner so that they graduate – and hopefully, graduate on time.”
Lipovsky explained that the Hive Remediation students will be meeting face-to-face during the regular school day, but will be in a smaller setting than they would in the high school. She said these students will be working out of a textbook and be getting direct instruction from a certified teacher (who will be delivering the instruction rather than through a computer).
The immediate challenge will be assembling the necessary number of teachers who are certified in the needed subject areas: math, social studies, English and science. The expectation is for four full-time educators, with a limit of 12 students per class.
“What I’ve seen over the past six years, is we’ve got to start helping these students more,” Ashcroft said. “Because the success rate isn’t where we need it to be. It’s not for us – it’s for those kids, and it’s for our community. These kids are good kids, and I want to provide them with better.”
Under Action Items, the board moved to:
-Approve the Hive Remediation Program.
-Accept, with regret, the retirement of Laurie Aleck, high school special education teacher.
-Accept the recommendation of HHS Principal Joe Ashcroft to hire Jayne Howard as high school English teacher.
The Harrison Community Schools Board of Education meets at 5:30 p.m. the second Monday of the month in the new Board Room at 224 W. Main St.
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