Academic support: year two

Hunter Martin, Writer

Academic support in the Owatonna High School started on Nov. 17, 2016 with the primary goal to determine a student’s critical skills and understanding in being successful after graduation, and into their chosen career paths. When setting up the program, teachers worked very closely with the school to identify certain skills that colleges, workplaces and the state of Minnesota were looking for in students by the time they graduate from high school.

Academic support consists of a 30 minute time period every Wednesday and Friday, where students can receive extra help or make up a missed test or assignment. If a student does not need extra help, the school has made an effort to have students join an enrichment class that ranges from stress management to analyzing conspiracy theories.

It has been over two years since the beginning of academic support, and many changes within the program have taken place. It was originally held on Thursdays and Fridays from 9:22 a.m. to 9:52 a.m. They then changed it to Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:32 a.m. to 10:02 a.m., due to requests from teachers. Principal Mark Randall said, “When we first started, we gathered a lot of teacher feedback. Some of the feedback was, that if they would meet with them on a Wednesday, and they still needed to see them on a Friday, they could make that adjustment.”

For people who need it, it is a great use of time, but some people use it as a waste of time.”

— Joey Prostrollo

The one issue the school is still working on is getting each and every student signed up for academic support, because signing up is required for each student. The percentage of kids not signing up for academic support is estimated to be just over one percent, with some of those not signing up because they are sick on that given day or unable to sign up before 8 a.m. the morning of the support day. That means 99 percent of the approximately 1600 students. The school is trying to keep kids accountable for not signing up for academic support by making it an unexcused absence and either sending them to the auditorium or automatically assigning them to a random support room.

Students have mixed feelings about the academic support system. Most comments have been positive, with the majority of students believing that academic support is helpful. Freshman Alex Beadell said, “I like it because it gives us more time to do stuff that I would not have time for at home.” Many students believe that the time spent in academic support is well worth their time due to the lack of time after school because of prior extracurricular engagements. Junior Joey Prostrollo said, “For people who need it, it is a great use of time, but some people use it as a waste of time.” Academic support was planned to increase a students GPA and overall graduation percentage. Principal Mark Randall said, ”We have seen a little bit of increase in GPA since we have started academic support.” The outcome seems to be doing just that. It has shown a subtle increase over the past two years.