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Provo High School is a school in transition. This year marks the first year for interim principal Boyd McAffee, as well as the last year in the current Provo High School building. These transitions certainly create excitement, but they also provide a unique opportunity to evaluate where the school has been, where it is now and where it will go in the future. Throughout all of the excitement, the focus of the school remains on education – achieving student success while at Provo High and preparing students for both graduation and life after high school. According to Principal McAffee, “Provo High has a strong tradition of excellence and we continue to carry that tradition forward while welcoming the challenges and opportunities that are ahead of us.”
Provo High is a school with a diverse and accepting student body. Additionally, the faculty and staff are extremely welcoming and supportive. Time and again, the students and staff at Provo high have come together to achieve greatness. As they begin the 2017-18 school year, these groups are once again working together to improve the academic success of all students. The Provo City School District Board of Education has set a goal to achieve a 91% graduation rate for the district by the end of the school year and Provo High School is 100% aligned with this goal. As such, the following supports and practices have been put into place to achieve that goal.
Identify At Risk Students Early On
There are multiple factors that could signal that a student might be “at risk.” Generally speaking, this means students that are lacking in credits, have poor attendance or are making poor academic progress. In years past, the school worked to seniors who fall into one of these categories in March. This year at Provo High, counselors, social workers and school administration began working diligently in September to identify these students earlier. This will provide the school with extra time (around six months) to implement additional resources to help these students get on a track to graduation. Some of these new resources will be discussed in this article.
Adjust Duties of Support Staff
Provo High has also evaluated and adjusted the responsibilities of support staff in the school. Typically, these positions have been referred to as trackers at the school. Their main responsibilities have been to keep students in class, monitor the halls during the school day and assist during the investigation of issues with student relationships. These responsibilities have been retooled to focus on student attendance matters, communicate with parents and find resources and supports for student. This provides students and families with additional resources to assist them as they work toward graduation. With this new focus on academics, the school hopes that other issues will begin to sort themselves out as well.
New Dean of Students
This summer, Jose Ventura was hired as the new Dean of Students for Provo High. The Dean of Students is an extension of the school’s administrative team and has the responsibility to address behavior issues in the school. These are typically minor issues that can be handled outside of the school’s principals. Previously, the school’s principals spent much of their time each day addressing minor student behavior issues. This new position allows the principals to focus more of their time on classroom instruction and working directly with teachers. The Dean also provides an additional resource that students can turn to when they have questions or difficulties.
The Twilight Program has been implemented in each of the district’s three highs school. This program is an extension of the normal school day where students can receive additional support. The program provides intensive support where students can earn credits at their own pace and through classwork tailored to their specific needs. This program also provides non-traditional students an avenue to complete their education.
GAP – Graduation Assistance and/or Acceleration Program
The GAP program takes place during the school day and is part of the curriculum. Therefore, it is also free for students to take advantage of if needed. In this program, students use packets or online courses to make up class credit in any area that may be needed. Since this is a free option, low-income students who may find themselves behind in credit can enroll and make up credits at no cost to them. Including last school year and this past summer, this program helped students make up hundreds of credits to get on tack for graduation.
According to Principal McAffee, “We are looking at this on a kid by kid basis. What do we have to do to maximize our efforts so they can walk across the stage and receive a diploma in May? That might mean adjusting schedules, calling home, working with parents, social workers and student advocates to get students to do the work they need to do in class and also make up work over Thanksgiving break, Christmas break and spring break. We will help them make a clear plan as to how to move ahead.”