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The student news site of C. M. Russell High School

Rustler News

The student news site of C. M. Russell High School

Rustler News

Class of 2014 presents challenges to faculty, administration

In her years as an educator, associate principal Julie Tramelli said she has never seen a freshman class quite like the class of 2014.

“This year is extraordinary,” she said, commenting on the academic standing of the freshman class. What makes the class stand out as a whole however, is not anything positive.

“This is one of our biggest classes and has more behavior issues than what I’ve seen in all my years as an educator,” Tramelli said.

This year the freshman class of 431 students has presented CMR faculty and administrators with challenge, frustration, and headache.

“Mrs. Gregoire, [principal of North Middle School] said that this was one of the toughest eighth grade classes to come through. I don’t want to peg all freshman, but the problem is significant,” Tramelli said.

 The source of the problem rests in a lack of motivation and the absence of leadership, she added.

“They don’t feel compelled to see that this is their job, their workplace. The problem comes with students being truant after lunch,” Tramelli said.

Tramelli believes that the class isn’t buying into the value of education  and that some of the students are not getting support from the home environment.

“There is more poverty in this class and more homelessness,” Tramelli said. “Some parents just don’t have the tools in the tool box to support their students in education.”

According to statistics provided by the CMR attendance office, the freshman class is accountable for 2,543 truancies during first semester. The sophomore class was responsible for 1,159, the juniors 696 and the seniors 763.

That number may correlate to the number of failed classes during the first semester. According to data provided by the CMR Records Clerk, freshmen earned 194 failing grades first semester, while the sophomores had 75, the juniors 87, and the seniors 57.

With the large number of failing grades in the freshman class, CMR administrators are taking action to mitigate the problem.            

Principal Dick Kloppel said that the freshmen will be given the opportunity to recover the credits they are lacking through a variety of opportunities.

“We are offering credit recovery through the freshman academy,” Kloppel said. “Freshmen can recover credit with their academy teacher, they are holding class after school, utilizing Saturday school. The bottom line is that there is not one person in the building who will not help them. The teachers here want to see them succeed.”

“Many of these students failed by 2 percent,” Kloppel said. “Grades and attendance are in direct correlation . I don’t know any students that are in school everyday and who attend class who fail.”

Tramelli said that attendance is not the only issue responsible for the academic standing of the freshman class.

“There seems to be a great sense of entitlement built in with this group, its not the we don’t have leaders, it’s just that those leaders are not willing to step up and take a stand, they are very complacent. There is also apathy attached to this,” Tramelli said.

Prior habits may also account for this shifted attitude.

“When we examined the cumulative folders of the freshman we discovered that there are many who have, in middle and elementary school, had attendance problems. Missing as many has 20 days of school in some cases,” Tramelli said.

This summer Tramelli, along with counselors and administrators, worked on scheduling changes for freshmen so that they would have one “hook class” a class that they were interested in and could develop a passion for.

“In spite of the changes, there still is a problem,” Tramelli said. “This semester all of the freshman academies meet weekly and send home progress reports to get parents’ attention. Telling them that we as teachers are here to support these students both before school and after school,” she said.

Tramelli added that the credit recovery process will take place with the teacher on record in the classroom .

“We had parents doing make up work for kids,” Tramelli said. “We don’t want this [credit recovery method] to become habit. We want the students to learn they will have to answer to due dates,” she said.

When presented with the data provided by the CMR Attendance Office and the CMR Records Clerk, Kloppel was pensive.

“There are no excuses for kids failing classes—no excuses for failing with the staff that we have at this school.”

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Class of 2014 presents challenges to faculty, administration