PERU - The consensus of educational leaders from across the North Country is that curbing the drop-out rate in high schools is among the chief concerns.
Representatives from school districts within the Clinton-Essex-Warren-Washington School Boards Association came together at Cricket's Restaurant Jan. 8 to discuss strategies they've developed to combat the ever-troubling problem.
Beekmantown Central School District was one of the schools highlighted during the evening. Social studies teacher Amy Campbell shared her school district's progress in strengthening the district's educational standards in recent years.
One of the first programs implemented was New Beginnings, an alternative program for students who failed several ninth grade classes with either few or no credits. The program involves utilizing teachers, additional instructors and aides to help returning freshman with not only completing the work they should have their first time around, but also the work necessary to bring them back to their appropriate grade level, said Campbell.
"It's an alternative setting for them," she explained. "They made poor choices as ninth-graders, now we're going to help them make better choices and guide them."
Raymond Relation, a member of Beekmantown's junior class, said he is grateful for the program. He fell behind in his studies his freshman year, though through the New Beginnings program, he was given second chance to improve his grades and take on the extra work necessary to bring him back in line with his class, the junior class, this year.
"I'm there now, but I didn't get there by myself," said Relation. "I had the help of teachers, teachers aides. They bugged me, but I did what they told me to do.
The program and the encouragement he received, said Relation, gave him the confidence and desire to improve himself. He now plans to join the U.S. Army after high school to "better my life."