New course aims to help freshmen transition to high school, both academically and socially

Hannah Anglin, Staff Writer

After a seven year hiatus, the Freshman Academy returned as a required elective course for freshmen.

With the introduction of the new Common Core curriculum, it was decided that the Freshman Academy would help students adjust to high school coursework. The goal of the Freshman Academy is to help students with study skills and social interaction during their transition to high school.

The last time this kind of class was seen was when the school offered Techniques for Success.  This class focused more on preparing students for college and getting the parents involved to help them with that process.

“Techniques for Success focused on learning strategies while the Freshman Academy focuses on learning strategies, positive social interactions, the transition into high school and postsecondary schooling, engaging the students in research and thinking outside the box to problem solve,” lead teacher Toni-Ann Rasch said.

Six teachers instruct the Freshman Academy, two math teachers and four English teachers. Rasch leads the program, and almost all ninth graders are involved in it. The exceptions include students involved with the marching band or the AVID program since these classes meet at the same time, fifth period.

“We focused on English and math teachers for core content area and hope to expand it in the next year or so,” Rasch said. “[These] teachers can help with strategies that can help students in their other classes [including other] core content classes, like history and biology. For example, English and history curriculum can intertwine as well as math and science.”

The Freshman Academy classes taught by math teachers aim to help the students with math. Students are placed in classes depending on their test scores from eighth grade.

“Other than being a little bit easier, it’s like another math class to me. One way it helped me was with fractions when I had trouble with them in my math class,” freshman Josie Fry said.

Likewise, those students placed with an English teacher receive extra help in this subject area.

“My Freshman Academy teacher is Mr. Nichols. This class is like a free period that helps me get my homework done,” freshman Kate Maxwell said.

All Academically and Intellectually Gifted students report to English teacher Joanne Juco.  Juco is in charge of the school’s AIG program, and these students receive different instruction than the other classes.

“The class that I teach has students from the gifted and talented program, so we are given more flexibility in what we do,” Juco said. “Right now, each student has been assigned one day where they get to teach the class about whatever they want. They have to do research on their topic, come up with a lesson plan and actually instruct the class on that day. Students are able to see that being a teacher is much harder than they thought!”

On Friday’s the Freshman Academy classes try incorporate activities that get students thinking about their future and preparing for it.

“[We provide] the students the opportunity to understand who they are [and] what they are like or are interested in [as well as] providing presentations and guest speakers to talk,” Rasch said.

Rasch and the other members of the Freshman Academy have plans to grow the program in the future.

“We would like to expand the Academy each year,” Rasch said. “[We want to] focus on different skills that will help our students expand and broaden their horizons.”