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The City Journals

Class prepares incoming freshmen for success in high school

Aug 30, 2017 05:10PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Skyline High welcomes freshmen this fall and will offer the class, Freshmen Academy, to help them learn how to be successful in high school. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama   |   [email protected]

More than 525 Skyline High School freshmen will notice on their schedules a class called Freshmen Academy.

During the course, ninth-graders may find themselves learning skills that will help them learn the high school system and be successful in their progress toward graduation, careers and college, said Skyline Principal Doug Bingham.

“Our goal is to have our students understand the skills they need to be successful in high school,” he said.

The course outline was determined by Granite School District, however, each school can tailor it to their needs. The course focuses on life skill development, academic planning, career exploration, goal setting and how to get the guidance and support for high school education.

“We’ll talk about organizational skills, accessing grades, getting along with people, who to go to for support or guidance, how to take online classes to fit in IB and AP classes as well as counseling sessions such as anti-bullying,” he said about the 88-minute class freshmen will attend every other day.

Bingham said that freshmen also will hear from their peers.

“We’ll give a few upperclassmen the opportunity to enroll and be a part of the classes as a mentor. They’ll help them with understanding the importance of homework to showing them the ropes on how to be successful,” he said.

This is the first year ninth-graders will be at Skyline High. Bingham said Granite School District allowed each high school feeder system to decide when to include freshmen in their student bodies.

“For us, we’ve talked about it awhile. When Canyons School District restructured several years ago, it impacted our school since some of the student body comes from Canyons, especially for our IB program. We know this will help with the transferability,” he said.

Cottonwood High added ninth-graders last fall and incorporated 20 minutes of college and career preparation into their required geography classes.

During the year, they saw a need for a more extensive class, so freshmen will be required to take one of three classes —Latinos in Action, AVID or Freshmen Academy—for the year, Principal Terri Roylance said.

“We wanted to provide options for our incoming students, but we will provide them a solid understanding of being successful in high school,” she said.

Roylance said the Latinos in Action course will focus on service and leadership and also provide mentoring in the Big Brother-Big Sister program while AVID is a four-year commitment to challenge students to take more honors or core AP courses in preparation for college.

The Freshmen Academy at Cottonwood will put students on solid ground, Roylance said.

“The class will be ‘this is what high school is about,’ with how to take notes, how to be organized, where to get help or tutoring, guest speakers coming in for college and career awareness and helping students be on track and communicate. We know kids can do the work, but sometimes, some are disorganized and haven’t been taught how to be on track to be successful,” she said.

Roylance said the district has found there are other increased benefits, such as helping support improved passing rates from freshmen to sophomore years and creating enthusiasm and engagement in school activities. There also has been increased grade-point average, decreased truancy and absentee rates and more parent involvement.

Cottonwood had remodeled before ninth-graders arrived to make room for the additional students.  

Skyline, with an anticipated enrollment of more than 2,000 students this fall, added two more classrooms and eliminated all computer labs.

“We mostly have Chromebooks and laptops for testing that are on carts and can be pulled into rooms this year,” Bingham said. “We had nine mobile labs last year and we’ll have an additional seven or eight carts here by later this fall for all our students to use.”