Program seeks to increase graduation rate for high school students in county

Published 4:42 pm Monday, May 11, 2015

Since April 4, students throughout Chilton County have had the option to attend Saturday School in Clanton to regain credits lost as a result of absences from high school.

“I originally thought the idea of Saturday School sounded horrible,” Brook Steinmetz said. “I just pictured all of these students stuck in rooms like a jail cell or something, and it really hasn’t been like that at all.”

Steinmetz is slated to graduate from Jemison High School May 21, but needed to recover 51 days of missed school due to giving birth to twins.

“Without the option of being able to make up the days of school I missed, I wouldn’t have been able to graduate,” Steinmetz said.

Kevin Boulware, who serves as an overseer of the students, said the idea came when principals from schools in Chilton County as well as administration with the Chilton County Board of Education wanted to come up with a way to increase the county’s graduation rate.

“This was something the students could do where they could make up their absences and regain lost credits,” Boulware said. “We have found that this program has really been beneficial to the students who have come because they are able to make up the work they have missed.”

The program begins at 8 a.m. and ends at noon at the old Adair School, located directly across the street from the Chilton-Clanton Public Library.

Boulware said students from schools throughout the county can come and work on schoolwork missed by absences.

“If a student comes to Saturday School, they have the option to make up two unexcused period absences,” Boulware said. “They can work on what they missed at school by using a program called Compass Learning. All they do is simply log on and find assignments uploaded for them by their teacher.”

Sidney Griffin also plans to graduate May 21 from Jemison High School and missed days at school which could have prevented him from graduating.

“Having the option to come every Saturday and work on what I missed has been really great,” Griffin said. “It hasn’t been bad as far as coming every Saturday, and it has been nice to get the work done and know I can graduate now.”

Griffin is unsure of what he wants to major in when he heads to college in the fall, but plans to take some core classes at Jefferson State Community College in Clanton.

Steinmetz said she has found the Compass Learning Program to be engaging, and has written five papers for her English class while attending Saturday School.

“I actually enjoy coming because it allows me to focus on what I need to get done without any distractions,” Steinmetz said. “The program itself is pretty simple to figure out. The only thing that might be hard is waking up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, but when you know it is to help you graduate, it really provides motivation.”

Boulware said many of the students who have been coming to the Saturday School said they will make a better effort to be aware of missing classes in the future.

“We hope to be able to offer this program next year,” Boulware said. “It is very helpful for the students.”