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Schools recognized for curbing drop-out rates

James O'Connell, president of this year's freshman class at Beekmantown, said the challenges seemed daunting upon first entering the high school. O'Connell was identified as a student who would benefit from extra help in Earth science through another program established by the school district. The program was created a few years ago as part of the school's Freshman Academy, which helps ease the transition for students from middle school to high school.

"I am having no trouble with my classes with the programs our teachers have set up for us. There's no stress," he said.

Though the label of being an underachiever can sometimes come with receiving additional help, O'Connell said that's not the case at Beekmantown.

"It's a good feeling because I know I'm getting my work done and I know I'm bettering myself," said O'Connell. "And, it's a great feeling because you know someone is out there wanting to help you."

"The biggest thing Freshman Academy has given us is communication," said Campbell. "The amount of discussion between teachers, counselors, students, parents and the administration in our building has just increased more than I can ever explain. Now, within the first two weeks of school we can identify students we know are going to struggle all year and start to work with them and try to get them some extra support."

The academy also involves a "working lunch," where students spend their lunch periods eating their meals while working on classwork with their teachers.

"The nice part about working lunch is they have teacher help right there at the ready," said Campbell.

After all that, if students are still compelled to drop out, they are required to view a video called "Your Next Bold Move." The video, which was produced five years ago, is actually first shown during freshman orientation, in order to encourage students to obtain their high school diplomas.

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