ACES aims high

Thursday, February 9, 2006

In an effort to enhance student performance and success, Cassville High School has launched an innovative Advisement for Career and Educational Success (ACES) program. This new advisement program begins today, Feb. 8.

Through ACES, high school students have been divided into different advisement groups with a teacher becoming the advisor to 15 to 17 students. The groups have been divided by grade and placement was done randomly. Students will not be allowed to change groups or advisors.

"These advisors will stay with the student through graduation," said Gretchen Bussman, CHS counselor. "The advisor will become the liaison between parents and teachers."

Advisors will have the opportunity to meet with their advisees weekly. Advising sessions will take place on Wednesday at the end of the school day.

By shortening each class period by three minutes on Wednesdays, a 25-minute advisory period will be created. "We think this program should lead to higher graduation rates and less D's and F's on report cards," said Bussman.

CHS Principal Brad Hanson, who has championed the initiation of the ACES program, said he thinks the small advisory groups will also enhance communication between the school and parents.

"We want to open up the communication lines with our parents," said Hanson. "Other schools (who adopted a similar program) have found when parents have only one person to contact, it makes it easier for them to make that contact. It becomes a more convenient process."

Letters explaining the new program to parents were sent home with students last week.

The first advisement session will focus on "ice-breaking" activities, Hanson said, which will allow students and their new mentors time to get to know each other.

During the remainder of February and throughout March, the advisement groups will be focusing on scheduling for the 2006-07 school year.

Bussman and fellow counselor Patty Daniels will continue to oversee the scheduling process with the students, but they say, the advisor will be able to offer the student more individualized attention, which should help in course selection and career planning.

Parents will be asked to meet with their student's advisor during parent-teacher conferences on March 15 and 16 to finalize class schedules.

"With this new program, we hope to have scheduling done by the end of the school year," said Hanson.

In April and May, the advisement groups will cover a variety of topics, including character education, conflict management, dealing with diversity, study skills and setting goals for the future. Teachers will receive training and curriculum from Bussman and Daniels.

"ACES will give the student another significant adult who cares about them and will help them graduate," Bussman said.

Hanson reminds parents and students that the new Wednesday schedule will not affect start or ending times of the school day.

"We'll see how it works this semester, and then we may make adjustments next year," said Hanson.

Teachers and staff members who have worked to get the ACES program up and running include: Jennifer McCrackin, Bussman, Daniels, Janet McNeill, Gail Green, Ken Haney, Brett Hudson, Leslie Ermey, Pete Rose, Shelley Henderson and Christine Thornton.

"It's a different concept so I'm sure there will be a lot of questions," said Hanson. "Because it's a new, we'd really like to hear from the parents, and the students, about what they think of the program."

Parents can contact Hanson at the CHS office at 847-3137 to share their thoughts on the ACES advisement program.

"We really would appreciate the feedback," Hanson said.

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