Six days a week

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 14, 2008

AHOSKIE – While many adults and students were snug in their bed Saturday morning, 100 Hertford County High School students were busy at work.

During the last of four Saturday Academy sessions at HCHS, Principal Jerry Simmons and his staff welcomed nearly 100 students to spend time working on End of Course (EOC) testing.

Teachers aided students in areas such as United States History, Biology, Geometry and Chemistry.

“It’s different,” Simmons said. “It’s not a traditional setting, but we still drive home points in terms of the curriculum.”

Simmons said the most impressive part of the program was how parents and students provided their own transportation for the half-day sessions that were held in December and January.

“I think students and parents are to be commended for doing this without transportation being provided by the school,” Simmons said. “The parents have provided transportation and the students who feel they need the extra work have come out.”

Simmons said the Saturday Academy allowed students to work in a smaller group setting allowing teachers to focus on specialized instruction that may not be part of the normal curriculum.

The Saturday Academy is part of Hertford County High School’s framework of action taken to help rebuild the academic standards. Simmons, in his second year at the helm of the school, is working to try to make the high school a better place.

“We’re trying to change the culture,” Simmons said. “We are stressing academics in a more precise way.”

The principal likened the change that had to take place to an athletic program.

“The athletic program here has always been strong,” he stressed. “We have to transfer that to academics. I support athletics. I always have and I always will, but it has to start in the classroom.”

Part of transferring that success comes in the Saturday Academy and the tutorial program that takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Hertford County High.

The Saturday program has garnered an average of more than 75 students and has been rated well by students, parents and teachers.

“We have received a lot of positive comments from parents about the program,” Simmons said.

Biology teacher Sylvia Wells said she was certain the four Saturdays spent at school would prove its worth once the students took the EOCs.

“I think its going to be effective,” she insisted. “We have had good turnout in Biology. Students have taken their time both Saturday and after school.”

Wells said there had been about 20 students participating in the Biology section each Saturday and that number increased to more than 30 this past week.

HCHS senior Malik McCoy was working in the chemistry section. He said he was sure the benefits would come.

“It was an opportunity to get extra help,” McCoy said. “The teacher can focus easier on one student. I saw it as an opportunity to get good grades and get some extra help.”

McCoy said he hoped the program is something that will continue.

Simmons said it just may.

“Absolutely we would be open to continuing if it is something that teachers and students feel is beneficial,” Simmons said.

Simmons said the school would analyze the testing data for the students who participated and evaluate how they did on the testing.

“If the students and parents feel it was successful, I pledge that we will do everything we can to help move forward academically,” the principal said.

Another way Simmons feels the Saturday Academy mirrors athletics is practice.

“It’s like athletics in that you practice, you practice and then you go out and play,” Simmons said. “It’s the same thing for academics. For us, game time is when the testing comes.

“We’ll do better with that once we get students to buy into it,” he added.

At least 100 of the students at HCHS already have.