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A new year. A clean slate.

August 26, 2005|by KRISTIN WILSON

kristinw@herald-mail.com

The No. 2 pencils are sharpened, notebooks are crisp with blank, white pages and the crayon box colors are still lined up in rainbow order.

Going back to school brings with it a fresh start: a chance to make new friends, make the basketball team and finally understand algebra.

It's no wonder then that back-to-school resolutions can be just as strong as the resolutions made on New Year's Eve.

Some students just want to make it through football season, others have their eye set on graduation day. School administrators want to see enhanced achievements among their students and parents want to smile on report card day.

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Dori Widdows, high school intake coordinator at the Washington County Family Center says many students prepare for the new school year by making mental lists of what they intend to achieve and also of what they are definitely not going to do.

In a way, a new school year is like building a new identity for students, she says. "That goes along with buying the new clothes and new supplies."

Setting goals or making resolutions "really gives students a focal point," Widdows says. "In high school, especially, sometimes you forget about why you go back to school." There's a social side, but it's important to remember that school is primarily about building an education.

Life course educator Susan Bosak recently released a book called "Dream" that focuses on setting goals with kids for academic and personal achievement. She recommends starting the school year with a "goal letter." Children should make lists of the things they want to learn more about and the obstacles they want to overcome. Then, parents can help their children write how they might accomplish such goals.

"We set the goals in the beginning of the school year that (my daughter) will have As or Bs on her report card because that's what she's capable of," Widdows says. "We expect that she will participate in sports, because that's what she likes to do." Widdows says it's also important that goals are attainable. They have to be realistic and tailored to each child. However, "I really think it's important that students set a goal that challenges them," she says.

Western Heights Middle School faculty will keep in mind this school-wide theme: "Road to success, no excuses."

"Every year I have a theme," says Jennifer Ruppenthal, principal at Western Heights. "'Road to success, no excuses,' that's all (faculty) have been hearing these past few days. We believe that all students can do their best. We're going to do all we can to make sure (students) do not give up."

"Our motto is we're all in this together," says Clear Spring High School Principal Michael Shockey. "Every teacher is going to focus on kids' writing, reading and vocabulary," not just the teachers who must administer achievement tests, he says.

Long-term, short-term, highly specific or somewhat abstract, Tri-State area students, parents and school faculty have a range of back to school resolutions.




Resolutions



"Just finish my two semesters and get my business degree." - Steve Alter, student at Hagerstown Community College

"To survive football practice." - Mike Lancaster, freshman, North Hagerstown High School

"To keep at least a 3.5 grade-point average." - Caroline Kreiger, freshman, North Hagerstown High School

"My resolution is to get an A or B in Advanced Placement Statistics." - Gretchen Schoeck, sophomore, North Hagerstown High School

"Just to graduate. That's it." - Brad Chambers, senior, North Hagerstown High School

"My back-to-school resolution is to get out of school and have fun." - Doug Gamby, sophomore, North Hagerstown High School

"I think for me it's just a matter of paying attention and making sure all my spare time is devoted to studying." - Mychael Wright, first-year student at Omega Studios' School of Applied Recording Arts and Sciences in Rockville, Md.

"Our motto is we're all in this together. Every teacher is going to focus on kids' writing, reading and vocabulary." - Michael Shockey, principal at Clear Spring High School

"We are going to focus on building relationships between the community, with parents and students. We want to make some large steps and large growth this year." - Jennifer Ruppenthal, principal of Western Heights Middle School

"To succeed in getting into honors classes next year." - Tura Schultz, eighth-grader, Spring Mills Middle School, Spring Mills, W.Va.

"To keep doing good in school, keep up my grades and maybe make them better." - Ashley Schultz, eighth-grader, Spring Mills Middle School, Spring Mills, W.Va.

Ashley and Tura's mother also set some goals for them: "Getting up on time, have your book bags by the door, trying not to forget anything." - Laura Schultz of Falling Waters, W.Va.

"Get on the honor roll." - Meaghan Willis, junior, Williamsport High School

"I want to get past Merit Algebra 7." - Robbie Willis, seventh-grader, Springfield Middle School, Williamsport.

"I expect (my children) to be on the honor roll and try to get perfect attendance." - Michele Willis of Williamsport.

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