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Wilson County Schools has started an Evening Academy at its three high schools as an effort to help students get ahead on coursework.
The courses are given from 3-6 p.m. after the conclusion of the regular school day for around 200 students at Beddingfield, Hunt and Fike high schools.
The program just concluded its second week.
Lane Mills, superintendent of Wilson County Schools, brought the idea from Craven County, where a similar program was instituted.
“It’s another way to provide additional support to our students and use our existing resources. We are not spending a lot of additional monies on that because we don’t have it to spend,” Mills said. “It is another support for our students to address graduation rate, grades and test scores.”
Randy St. Clair, principal at Fike High School, said the program is off to a good start. About 76 students are participating at Fike.
“The kids understand the expectations regarding why they are there,” St. Clair said.
Evening school offers a number of opportunities for the students.
“You have some students who are doing credit recovery. So they didn’t pass a course during the semester; so they are making up that course,” St. Clair said. “You have some students who are taking a course for fresh credit. So they didn’t fail a course, but they either want to go ahead and look at early graduation, or there is a course that we don’t offer this semester that they want to take so they can take another course next semester.”
Some students are attending evening school instead of taking regularly scheduled classes.
“They are not coming to day school, and that could be for a number of reasons,” St. Clair said. “We have some ladies who are pregnant, and the evening school works with their schedule.
“Overall, the kids really seem to be doing well. They understand the expectations for each level that they are at, and I think the teachers are doing a good job of promoting it in a way that it is not a punishment. It is not a way to make you feel that you are less-than, and it is not a way to usher you out the door. It is an opportunity to let you graduate on time.”
If students come from a different state or a different district and need a course that is not offered this semester, or even at their school, they can take it through the online Edgenuity program.
“They can come to evening school and take that course and not miss a beat as far as graduation is concerned,” St. Clair said.
“While the students are only coming here a couple of times a week, there is a component that you must do at home,” St. Clair said. “There is no way you can come a couple of times a week and make up that course. You have to do some of that stuff at home.”
St. Clair said the Evening Academy offers students “a bridge to get it done.”
“I think it’s great,” St. Clair said. “The goal is we want our kids to graduate on time. We don’t want our kids to get behind. There are situations where things happen to children on our side of school, but this gives them an opportunity to make it up and not feel like there is no hope. It think that is what the teachers are selling to the kids — that there is a chance that you can still do it.”
Cheryl Wilson, Wilson County Schools associate superintendent, said the Evening Academy gives the district a chance to capture the students before they fail.
“We are trying to figure out how we can get these kids caught up,” said Steve Ellis, WCS assistant to the superintendent. “It is a big need in Wilson County.”