Seventy incoming freshmen to Wakulla High School will have the advantage of knowing their new school, textbooks, administrators, some teachers, and even a few new friends due to attending a High School Prep Summer Program.
Wakulla High School teachers Shari Evans, Krista Millender, and Melinda House taught 8th graders going into 9th grade for two week sessions this summer. Students earned a half credit in Reading that counts towards graduation. “I am starting high school with a 4.0 grade point average!” noted one student who earned an “A”
Students were introduced to their 9th grade textbooks while using effective reading strategies. “The textbook ‘walk’ helped me by knowing what I’m expecting to see for the work we’ll do. Now I’m familiar with what subjects I’m going to get,” penned a student. Students wrote exit essays on what they learned and what could be improved for next summer.
Many strategies for high school success were covered. Wrote one student, “This class helped refresh my mind about Cornell Notes, author’s purpose, questioning what I read, and helping me finish my required summer reading book.” Another noted, “I improved my vocabulary skills.
Several wrote about how they appreciated the WHS administrators coming to their classes to talk to them. Comments included: “Mrs. Chancy (Assistant Principal) was the biggest help about Bright Futures Scholarships”, and “Mr. Crouch (Principal) told us the basics of high school.” Next “Mr. Smith (Athletic Director) told us all about the athletic department.” Also “Mr. Nelson (Assistant Principal) talked to us about how to stay out of trouble.”
Students also worked on teambuilding and group projects. Several noted that they met students from the other middle school and made new friends. They also liked learning to use iPads: “I had never gotten a chance to use one until now, so that was cool.”
Plus, students learned their way around WHS. One stated, “When we walked around the school, it was fascinating. We got to see things I didn’t know the school had.” Another heeded good advice from her teacher and wrote, “The best thing to do in high school is ask a teacher where to go. Don’t ask upperclassmen. They’ll send you the wrong way!”
Students were invited to the voluntary program based on their previous year’s reading assessments. While many tested on grade level, high school textbooks can be as difficult as college level ones. So the focus was to prepare students for the rigor of high school and the goal to leave high school with a college or some postsecondary training plan to start their careers.
The only complaint, was, of course, getting up early to come to school in the summer. Observed one student, “Personally, I thought summer school was a dumb idea. What kind of a person takes students out of their free summer time? Well, I got here the first day and, truthfully, I had fun!”