January 5, 2009

January 5, 2009  

Welcome back to the new year and the end of the old semester. In fourteen days the fall semester will be over and the average grade for the first three marking periods of the year will become a part of your permanent record. As in June, this is the homestretch when you need to put all of your energies into bringing your grades up through high scores on the final tests, solid efforts on every homework assignment and regular participation in tutoring sessions. You can also use the mock-Regents that will occur the last week of January to raise your grades. In setting your goals for this vital marking period, I want you to consider three benchmarks that may determine your future – 65, 83 and 92.


A small group of students is still struggling to earn the 65 in all of their classes. This is the group I worry about the most because the costs of failure at LoMA are so high. Because our school is too small to program a student for classes in two different grades, if a student does not make up any failing grades (for the fall or the spring semester) by September he will he will repeat the entire grade, even the courses that he has passed. This includes gym. Summer school, however, will not be the answer for some students because a student can only take two or three semester-long courses during summer school. If someone fails more than two or three classes total for the two academic terms, she will repeat the entire grade, even courses that she has passed. If you think that you even might be in this group of students for even one class, you need to meet with your teachers to come up with a plan so that you can the 65. It’s not too late to pass any class, but by next week it may be.


Most of our students are hovering just below the 83. They have averages in the 70s and may feel that because they have failed classes in the past that they are doing pretty well with a 74. If their only goal is to graduate high school and find some non-professional job, they probably are. However, if their goal is to attend college and make more money, then they are not doing much differently then someone getting a 65 average. Most four-year colleges want to see the 83 for admittance, and for most of our students, if they get the 83, they will get enough financial aid to pay for tuition, room and board. Any student who is getting a 75 is capable of getting the 83. It is simply a matter of completing more homework, studying more regularly and participating more actively in class. The great majority of LoMA’s students have proven that they can earn an occasional 85, now they have to put in the effort to do so on a more regular basis.


I am glad to see more and more of our students pushing themselves to earn the 92. Some of them came to LoMA with low skills and poor work habits, but have they have now learned what they need in order to succeed. I do not mean just that that they have learned their reading, writing and arithmetic. They’ve learned something even more important – the value of hard work. They now know that studying can feel good when it leads to success, that developing relationships with their teachers can make learning more meaningful and that friendships formed by completing schoolwork together can be interesting, long lasting and beneficial. I find it ironic that it is these high achieving students who attend the most tutoring since we first instituted tutoring for our neediest students. These A students know that they if they stay in school for another hour or so they can complete their homework with their friends and then have the rest of the night free. In return, these 92 students are pretty much guaranteed scholarships to a college anywhere in the United States.


Which category are you in? Which one do you want to be in? There are fourteen days left, what are you going to do about it?


Work hard,


John Wenk