Twilight School spotlighted (N&R)

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Today’s N&R spotlights the new Twilight High School, currently operating on the Smith H.S. campus. And it is seeing some successes.

N&R excerpt:

Senior Shamika Johnson won’t hear the names of her friends called or sit within a sea of maroon caps and gowns on the day she receives her high school diploma.

Johnson, 17, still plans to represent Southern Guilford High School in attire and spirit on June 5 when she walks across the stage — two days ahead of her former classmates.

“I’m just glad I’m graduating,” said Johnson, who now attends the Twilight High School, one of the district’s newest alternative programs.

Twilight, housed at Smith High School, is making graduation possible this year for about 75 seniors who struggled, dropped out or were suspended from their previous high schools. Thirty-five students are expected to graduate in June, with the rest graduating during the summer or in December, principal Pandora Bell said.

“The regular high school program has not worked for these kids,” Bell said. “We’ve had to look at things that do well with these kids.”

That means offering courses from 2 to 8 p.m., classes of five to 15 students, and a relaxed atmosphere, where students can snack in class and don’t need special breaks to go to the restroom.

Teachers assign most work to be completed in class to accommodate working students. Counselors arranged a parenting class for students who are pregnant or have children. Small assemblies are held every two to three weeks to recognize students who attend every class on time or earn A’s and B’s in their courses.

The school, approved by the Guilford County Board of Education last fall at a budgeted cost of $835,033, opened in late January and has about a dozen employees.

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E.C. )

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5 Responses

  1. Doing the math, this comes out to approx. $11,000 per student each semester. If that much were spent on every student in the county, our yearly budget would be nearly $1.5 billion. Can we afford to continue to spend this on so few students? And if this number expands, will we be able to spend $22,000 per student per year on about 1% of our students? I’m not saying we shouldn’t, but feel impelled to point out that every extra dollar spent on a student who isn’t currently getting with the standard program is one that cannot be spent on a regular student who is.

  2. I just read on the N&R “Chalkboard” blog that Garth Herbert endorses EC Huey!

    I totally agree that EC is the best choice and I’m happy that other board members are on board!

    TOOT TOOT, ALL ABOARD THE EC train!!

  3. So if we don’t offer the Twilight school to help these students, what are you suggesting to help these students? You can’t just say that they have to “get with the program”. You must have an alternative to what is being suggested. It’s already clear that the regular school format isn’t working for these students and the county seems clueless about establishing a strong vocational high school that can allow these students to take a reduced class load (strictly the basics) and train them with a skill that will keep them off the welfare payroll and out of jail. But we can’t manage to figure that out. So what is the alternative you are suggesting???

  4. Deborah, are you joking? So we should invent a new program every time a high schooler doesn’t feel like “getting with the program”?

    Who’s running the show here?–the students? Real life has rules and these kids need to learn that NOW. So are you suggesting a new program for all the teens that don’t like waking up early? And another program for those who don’t test well, another one for kids who like to snack during class, and one for pregnant teens, and one for those suspended too many times, and one for those in jail, etc…

    In the real world these kids will have to conform to a set of rules or they won’t make it. If we placate them now, we are only harming them more. Guilford county must stop coddling its kids and get real with inforcing the rules. Our administration has spend enough time and money on the rebels. I’m sick to death of people trying to use our educational system as a Social services tool. I do feel sorry for those ending up in jail or who drop out of school but it’s not the School Board’s responsibility!! Their job is to educate the ones that show up every day. Their job should not be to entice/spoil/cajole/beg/ the dropouts to return or invent an easier way for them to graduate!!! What next, school in bed?–we bring the books and an tutor to their bedside? Come on people!!!

    Btw, a good read is Bill Cosby’s book, “Come on, People”… Yes, there’s a problem in society but we must stop punishing those that ARE following the rules!

  5. Deborah,

    I don’t think I was suggesting that any student be cast adrift. I was only pointing out what seems like an incredible cost per student for a one program which targets about .1% of our children. I am sure that every student would probably flourish with classes of less than 15, but what county could afford that? I honestly don’t know what to do with youngsters who have done just about everything to break out of school when they get to be 17-18 years old. I wonder if much stronger reading programs in elementary and middle school might make more students engaged with their schooling, which after all, is highly dependent upon reading.

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