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Mount Si High School’s Freshman Campus passes first-semester checkup
Discipline issues are down, so are failing grades. Club participation is up among Snoqualmie Valley School district’s newest high school students, and that, say Freshman Campus staff, shows just how secure the Class of 2017 feels in their first year of high school.
“These kids really have come together,” says Jenny Foster, a teacher at both Mount Si High School and the new Freshman Campus, in a presentation to the Snoqualmie Valley School District Feb. 27. “They are just tighter. They work well together. It’s age appropriate.”
Foster and counselor Elaine Maimon added their comments to Freshman Campus Principal Vernie Newell’s end-of-semester report, each echoing the others’ positive responses.
Maimon felt fortunate to work at the freshman campus, where she could focus on one age group, and help them with high school transition challenges, rather than also juggling in college application help for older students. “I feel like I’m more available to check in with all levels of kids,” she said.
Foster, who also has a child attending the freshman campus, said, “This is the most fun I’ve had in many years!”
Newell added, “I think we’re quite pleased with what we’re seeing so far.”
Those findings include, in a comparison with the freshman data from the classes of 2016 and 15 (this year’s sophomores and juniors, respectively), a huge drop in visits to the health room, which Newell said students have historically used to avoid bullies or other challenges in their freshman year. This year’s class of 466 students reported only 19 visits to the health room in the first semester, compared with 86 visits in last year’s first semester (460 students) and 56 (of 409 students) in the previous year’s first semester.
“It tells me that students are feeling a lot more secure,” Newell said.
The number of failing grades for freshmen, a statistic closely related to student dropout data, was the lowest for this year’s freshmen, despite theirs being the largest class. Only 38 Fs were recorded in this year’s first semester. Last year’s freshman had 53 Fs at the end of first semester, and the previous year’s had 46.
Formal discipline incidents are also down compared to the prior two years’ cohorts: 61 issues this year; 188 last year; and 74 the previous year.
Data on student participation in extracurricular clubs only, showed successes, too. Of the eight clubs tracked (GSA, Knowledge Bowl, Drama, Debate, Amnesty, Chess, Video and Art), all had at least one freshman member this year, and drama had 17, compared to last year, when only one freshman joined the chess club and two joined Amnesty.
Newell attributed the increase in club participation this year to an increased comfort level with high school.
Asked for the top-three contributors to the freshman campus successes to date, Newell credited the dedicated staff primarily, followed by the program improvements, and the school’s overall commitment to the freshman campus mission of creating “a student-centered learning community.” He felt strongly that the physical distance of the freshman campus was also a factor, but couldn’t quantify it. “I would attribute a lot of it… to that separation,” he said. He couldn’t speculate on whether the same separation could be achieved with a dedicated freshman building on the main campus, which is part of a bond proposal the board is now considering.
For comparison purposes, the Record also contacted the district’s two middle school principals for their first-semester data on the same parameters. Our question was how the transition from a one-comprehensive high school building with three middle schools, into a high school with a freshman campus and upperclass campus, plus two middle schools affected students in other grade levels.
Note, the comparison is unscientific, grouping all three middle school grades together, and not accounting for the increase of more than 200 students at each middle school.
Campus comparables, by the numbers:
Chief Kanim Middle School - 711 students (grades 6 through 8)
Twin Falls Middle School - 735 students (6-8)
Freshman Campus - 466
Class of 2016’s freshman year - 460
Class of 2015’s freshman year - 409
Number of Fs in first semester
Chief Kanim Middle School - 37 (6-8)
Twin Falls Middle School - 45 (6-8)
Freshman Campus - 38
Class of 2016’s freshman year - 53
Class of 2015’s freshman year - 46
Number of discipline issues
Chief Kanim Middle School - 109 (6-8)
Twin Falls Middle School - 73 (6-8)
Freshman Campus - 61
Class of 2016’s freshman year - 188
Class of 2015’s freshman year - 74
Number of health room visits
Chief Kanim Middle School - 442
Twin Falls Middle School - unavailable
Freshman Campus - 19
Class of 2016’s freshman year - 86
Class of 2015’s freshman year - 56
Number of 4.0 students at the end of first semester
Chief Kanim - 11 percent
Twin Falls - 24 percent
Freshman Campus - 9 percent
Class of 2016’s freshman year - 7 percent
Class of 2015’s freshman year - 13 percent