First Posted: 2/6/2009
Students participating in the North Star Academy at North Surry High School, like the administrators, see the academy as a promising experience after the first semester.
The academy provides the ninth graders a place to find their way within the school before being put into the main stream. They are isolated for their core classes in one wing of the school but are able to still move into other parts of the building for lunch and non-core classes.
I think its good. They keep us all together so we can get used to the classes and not have the pressure, said Taylor Newton, a ninth grader at the school. It gives us all time to change and grow up.
Its really good because it keeps me with my friends. It helps with the transition, said Chase Gough, a ninth grader.
The transition from middle school to high school can be tough for students who are not prepared for more work and more freedom. The academy tries to help ease that transition by providing support to the students on a more one-on-one basis for the first year.
Id probably be late to my classes. Now I dont have to go too far so theres no excuse for me to be late, said Newton of the benefits of the academy. We know more people our age so we dont get caught up in the wrong crowd.
Both students feel that having a faculty advisor has been helpful to them. It provides an adult, who is not their teacher, to listen to any problems and help them with scheduling and finding the right place within the school.
It makes you feel like someone cares about what youre doing other than your parents, said Gough.
The advisor helps out a lot. Its good you have someone there to talk to and give you advice, said Newton.
Even with the isolation during core courses, the students feel like they will be prepared to enter the main stream next year because they are getting some exposure to the rest of the school and to being around upperclassmen.
Its a common misconception that theyre in there all day every day. We do want them to branch out during the year, said Neil Atkins, assistant principal.
The students are seeing the benefit in their work as much as the administrators are seeing it in the data collected. They feel that the academy has been an asset to them and hope to see the idea catch on at other schools.
I think the other schools should go to this, said Gough, noting that elsewhere freshmen have to go all over the building to their classes.
It really helps the students, said Newton.
To the current eighth graders who will be heading to North Star Academy, Newton and Gough had some advice about what to expect and how to approach the transition to high school now that they have successfully completed their first semester.
Dont be nervous, because theres no point, said Newton, admitting that she was nervous before her first day. Do all of your work. There is a lot more freedom. Its a big change, but it didnt take long to adjust.
Dont get behind, work hard and be prepared for your classes, said Gough. Theres more freedom, but theres more responsibility.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.