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03Century SCHOOL BEGINS - INSIDE STORY

Century initiatives to help struggling students

By Edie Grossfield

egrossfield@postbulletin.com

In recent years, Century High School has added programs to help incoming freshmen acclimate to high school life and get off to a good start toward graduation.

Now, the school is focusing on kids further into their high school careers who need some extra help to get back on track for graduation, said Century Principal Chuck Briscoe.

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As part of the new initiative, Briscoe has been meeting this summer with academically struggling juniors and seniors, and their parents or guardians, to discuss what each needs to be more successful in school.

The school identified about 35 students for these individual meetings.

"I start out by saying "You’re here because we care about ya," Briscoe said. "Some (of the students) are behind a little bit and so we talk about what they have to do to catch up. ... We have them set some goals, and we even practice shaking hands, which is the last thing I do with everybody when they graduate."

Briscoe said the meetings are one way to make sure kids don’t get lost in Century’s big-school setting.

In addition, Century is using its own compensatory funds to add a new full-time paraprofessional position called education/graduation coach. Filling that spot is James Robertson, who also happens to be the head coach of Century’s boys track team.

"He’s going to work with me and some other staff. ... Basically, his focus will be to work with kids who are behind a little bit, and just (to be) someone who can be a resource and direct the kids, Briscoe said.

Robertson also will join Briscoe in facilitating an African American young men’s group that formed last school year.

Mirrored after the Young Women’s Forum, a group for minority girls at Century, the boys group provides a safe, supportive place for students to meet and discuss a variety of issues affecting them in school and life, in general.

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Like the Young Women’s Forum, the group invites African American professionals from the community to participate during the lunchtime meetings.

"They have made a commitment to our kids. And I think that meant a lot to the kids and, certainly, to me," Briscoe said of the visiting adults. "They come in ... and they talk to the kids on different topics. And it’s been pretty interesting."

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