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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Scared of high school? CPS has plan for 8th-graders

I went to a one day orientation before I attended my high school. I barely remember what it was about. All my dad and I had to do was sit in an auditorium until it was time to go. I forgot what was said that day.

High school for me was somewhat miserable. It's mostly because at that time I didn't go to the best high school in the world. Even a tolerable one. My parents felt that it was best for me to go to school much closer to home. Not that I didn't understand, things can get dangerous out there. Especially when the testosterone might be running out there in city streets. Still it wasn't exactly what I wanted and I couldn't get done.

I think this program by the Chicago Public School is a good start to help get some of these students ready to go. It surely can't indicate the variable that'll come up when you finally attend a class, but I would have loved to have something like this if I had went to high school after 8th grade. From the Sun-Times...
Thousands of Chicago eighth-graders could receive as many as three weeks of orientation activities in their new high schools before opening day under a new program intended to ease the critical transition from eighth to ninth grade.

As part of a plan that could cost $10 million, Chicago public school officials want to offer this year's eighth-graders up to a week in their new high schools in June, when older students could serve as guides or mentors. Plus, newcomers would be invited back for another two weeks in August, just before school starts.

Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan said the average eighth-grader missed 10 days of school last year, but the average ninth-grader skipped 27 days -- more than five weeks.

"We want to get these kids in and connected to their schools,'' said David Gilligan, CPS Chief High School Officer.

Though still in the brainstorming stages, the new orientation program could offer as many as 30,000 eighth-graders a mix of academic, logistical and social help.

In June, activities could include a walk through a typical high school schedule, a tour of the building, an overview of how credits and grade-point averages work, and an introduction to counselors, teachers, coaches and extracurricular activities.

By August, kids could get help with skills such as note-taking and time management. They could get their schedules, books and lockers. They might do team-building to bond with classmates.

The state's top-scoring high schools -- including Chicago's Northside College Prep, Winnetka's New Trier and Hinsdale Central -- hold freshman orientations.

Northside and New Trier offer freshmen outdoor adventure camps. Hinsdale Central matches newcomers with a "student leader'' over the summer who can walk them through their schedules and help them get books.

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