More than 70 students improved their grades by using the time to catch up
■ Chronicle News Service
Helen Hunt Jackson College Prep High School (HHJCPHS) is a flexible educational program that provides students with a variety of options to reach their educational goals. The school has an independent study option, online course work, and traditional classroom instruction. This school year, College Prep High school, a project-based charter school, merged with Helen Hunt Jackson and Family Tree Learning Center.
During this transition year, staff identified a need amongst students. With the holiday breaks rapidly approaching, staff found that some students were beginning to fall behind and some students were becoming less engaged. In an effort to excite students about the curriculum and give students the opportunity to catch up, staff introduced school-wide Project Days.
Project Days was almost a two-week period where students, depending on their need, were able to work with teachers to get caught up on their coursework or explore project-based learning. Staff opened up a study hall in the Multipurpose Room for students who needed help. For those students that were on-track, they were able to explore a variety of interests available to them such as programing robots, photography, mindfulness, home economics projects, water conservation projects, gardening, and hiking in Idyllwild and Torrey Pines to discover indigenous plants.
Staff found that these Project Days increased student engagement and created a stronger culture amongst students. Principal Frank Green said he began seeing students who are in the Independent Study program coming to school every day for the full eight-hour day; students who normally kept to themselves, are now surrounded by new friends, and have a thirst for new areas of study.
It was not only staff members who saw a change, students did too! One student said she felt like she is more self-motivated and self-aware after the mindfulness workshop. Students were able to see things in a new light, literally, by experimenting with the effects of sunlight in photography; students learned more about water-conservation efforts, and some explored their artistic side by using plants they found on their hike in an art project.
Students who participated in the various workshops were able to gain one-to-two elective credits by participating in an activity, building a project, and writing a reflective paper about their experience. Over 100 students earned elective credit during the Project Days, and 73 students were able to improve their grades by using this time to catch up.
Students told staff they were appreciative of their efforts to create an event that provided a solution that met their needs.