Not only did they learn that Clinton High School is a finalist for the Palmetto Finest award, but members of the School District 56 board of trustees also got to hear from students about some of the things happening at CHS at Monday night’s board meeting at the high school.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Laura Koskela updated the board on both the CAT (Carolina Alliance for Technology) program funded by a $7 million federal grant and the GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant, also federally funded.
CAT is a 4-year grant, while GEAR UP is a 7-year grant that follows students from seventh grade through one year beyond high school graduation.
Terri O’Shields, Career Development Facilitator at Clinton Middle School, said GEAR UP is now in its second year and is serving eighth graders. CMS has created a library of current college materials to help provide information to students, she said.
CHS assistant principal Tanya Wilson told board members the school’s new Flex Time – 40 minutes every morning before school starts for clubs and organizations to meet as well as for students to receive academic help – is considered a success.
She said between 700 and 750 of the school’s 900 students participate in the early-morning programs.
Tasheka Boyd and Jonathan Blackwell both said Flex Time allows them to become involved in things they normally would not be able to, while providing academic assistance and giving them time after school for work and school work.
Larry Wilson and Torrie Steele told board members about the new AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) elective in grades 9 and 10.
Wilson said AVID has improved his grades and made him more organized. Steele said the program has also brought about a dramatic improvement in her grades.
Several students discussed some of the IT and engineering courses being taught at the school.
A sophomore student said he developed several walking trails in Clinton using Google Applications. “It put me in real-life situations I wouldn’t have had,” he said.
Another student showed the board some digital art he had created in an introduction to digital media class.
Freshman Cameron Nichols said Project Lead the Way has helped him develop accountability and responsibility. Dillon Snead said Lead the Way has improved his everyday skills, teamwork and communications.
A sophomore said in the introduction to engineering class he has developed skills and is better prepared for “life outside the walls of Clinton High School.”
Harmon Davenport said the more advanced principles of engineering class takes the introductory class “a step further and builds on it. It builds life skills and teaches us not to give up on a problem.”
Karl Gustafson said in the principles class, students have to come up with an idea, innovate it, present it and convince investors to fund it.
“There is so much going on (at Clinton High School),” Principal Maureen Tiller told the board. “So much new in the last two years. We have implemented smaller learning communities.”
The presentations by CHS students, teachers and administrators tied in with the board’s focus at Monday’s meeting on the fifth AdvancED standard – using results for continuous improvement.
District 56 will undergo AdvancED re-accreditation this school year and the board is focusing on one of the five standards at each meeting.
“Standard 5 (using results for continuous improvement) shows why we’re about accreditation,” Koskela told the board. “It takes us from where we are, looks at who we are and tells our story.”
Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Pitts said the re-accreditation process will focus on answering five leading questions: where are we now; where do we want to be; how did we get where we are; how do we get to where we wants to be; and is what we’re doing making a difference?
The idea of continuous improvement is laser-focused from kindergarten through post high school, Pitts said.