Waynesboro to help freshmen adjust

August 08, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - As eighth-graders they were the top dogs, but as ninth-graders entering Waynesboro Area Senior High School Aug. 27, incoming freshmen will find themselves on the bottom of the school's social and academic ladder, a transition that is not always easy, administrators say.

To help the freshmen adjust to their new surroundings, the administration has set aside a section on the second floor of the 1,200-student high school building as a Ninth Grade Academy.

It will have its own core group of teachers to help the freshmen adjust to the academics, socialization and discipline at the high school level, said Jami Verderosa, principal at Waynesboro High.


"Statistics show that ninth-graders coming in have some trouble adjusting," she said.

Up to 20 percent of incoming freshmen struggle when they enter high school, Schools Superintendent Barry Dallara said.

"This will help them with the transition," Dallara said.

The Ninth Grade Academy is the most significant change for the district's 2003-04 school year, he said.

It will help the freshmen with class schedules, the academic challenges that high school offers, their socialization with upper classmates and discipline, Verderosa said.

"It's a common approach to make student learning more successful," she said.

Schools officials see value in separating 14-year-old freshmen from the older students, Dallara said.

"There isn't as much guidance in high school as there is in middle school. Students need to be more independent," Verderosa said. "Now everything counts toward grade-point averages and college credit."

Employers, too, look at a student's high school record.

"If they mess up in math, it ends up on their record," Verderosa said.

The freshman class will have its own newsletter, which will be available to parents.

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