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Dec. 10, 2004

New freshman wing called a success

by Diana Frey, Page Editor
As of the first quarter of this school year, after the implementation of the freshman wing of the school and freshman teams, only approximately 15 percent of freshmen were ruled academically ineligible for extracurricular activities. This percentage is less than those from years in the past, which were usually around 30 to 35 percent, according to freshman administrator Linda Wolf.

In past years, the ineligibility rates of freshmen during the first quarter ranged from as high as 40 percent in 1998 to around 20 percent in 2002. The rate rose back up to about 27 percent last year. This year's 15 percent is the lowest Blair has seen since 1997, according to information compiled by ESOL resource teacher Joseph Bellino.

Wolf, like many teachers, was impressed with the success of the freshman wing, especially after not knowing what to expect from the new idea. "I was hopeful but a little apprehensive," said Wolf, adding that the success of the freshman wing "has far exceeded my expectations."

According to Wolf, national statistics have proved that the transition into ninth grade is one of the most difficult for kids. If it goes poorly, the transition can steer students in the wrong direction for the rest of their lives. Consequently, the Blair staff brainstormed ideas to ease this transition and came up with the freshman wing of the school, which isolates freshmen together with the same students for most of their classes in one section of the school.

The wing was designed to aid freshmen in many ways. The freshman class is divided into seven teams with designated teachers for Connections, U.S. History, English and science classes for each team. Every team of teachers carefully keeps track of their students by meeting for a minimum of three hours a week during normal planning time to discuss progress and problems.

Before the teams were created, social studies and English teachers were the only ones who shared students. U.S. History teacher Anne Manuel believes that having teams with numerous teachers in contact is responsible for much of the freshmen's progress. "Having a team with science and Connections really helps kids not fall through the cracks," stated Manuel.

This system has been very successful in making sure that all freshmen stay on task. For example, if a student skips one class, it is easy for teachers to notice because of their increased communication with each other. Also, by having many classes in the same vicinity of the school and having a tardy cowbell that is rung right before the official bell, teachers and administrators drastically decreased student tardiness. According to freshman English teacher Adam Clay, there is a strong correlation between attendance and success. "We stay on top of the kids," Clay asserted.

Clay also believes that the Connections course has been very helpful. The class gives students a time to learn good study habits with familiar students and provides them with a place to find help with other classes. Clay uses the Connections class to remind students of assignments from other classes because the Connections class is organized based on the students' team of teachers. "There are a lot of systems to support students," remarked Clay.

However, complaints have come from students who think they are too isolated because there are not as many opportunities to meet students on other teams besides their own. This issue is being addressed by having kickball games scheduled between different Connections classes, and a social was held solely for freshman students.

Overall, there are not many complaints about the wing, and teachers see it continuing into the future. "I definitely think its here to stay," stated Clay.



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  • Fresh Man on December 10, 2004
    It's silly because Magnet and CAP rejects that end up at Blair have to endure this whole success-for-the-freshman-class. Most of the kids in my Connections class are getting a C average, and that's a horrible GPA, no matter how much it's improved from. Some of them are even LCing Connections. I think it's a crazy idea, but I'm just the minority.
  • Sebastian Johnson (View Email) on December 10, 2004
    I am glad to hear that the Freshman wing is a success, but I wonder if ineligibility rates are an effective method for measuring that success. If the ineligibility rates for the class of 2008 increase significantly their sophmore year, what does that say about the wing's affect on freshmen acclimating to high school?
  • Sike! (View Email) on December 10, 2004
    Sike!
  • Cept not! on December 10, 2004
    'Cept Not!!! Bad idea!!!! grr
  • the bad statistician on December 10, 2004
    corellation does not mean causation
  • a (View Email) on December 11, 2004
    kickball games to help intergrate freshman from one team to another? a game where you play versus someone and are competing, yea great idea blair
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on December 11, 2004
    competition on this level is suposed to be lighthearted and fun...a lot of companies, etc. use bowling or baseball games as ice breaker-type events.
  • Connections is bad on December 11, 2004
    I did not have to take connections last year. I am in the magnet, but I know many who did. They told me about how much a waste of time it was. Personally, I think we as high school students should know how to study, read a textbook, etc. If we don't the teachers were usually helpful about that stuff anyway. We should be able to be responsible about our education without having to take a course in it.
  • meh on December 12, 2004
    Just replace Connections with a free class, where everyone sleeps. Its not like Connections helps any more than an extra hour and a half of sleep would help to us sleep-deprived kids
  • Bob on December 12, 2004
    Yes, Michael Bushnell, I agree. It's something that everone won't take really seriously such as basketball. It's just for fun. A little competition is fun, but I doubt there will be a lot of competition in kickball.
  • Vivek Chellappa (View Email) on December 12, 2004
    the bad statistician,

    Thank you for the comment. As a result, we have modified the headline of this article.


    Vivek Chellappa
    Co-Editor-In-Chief
    Silver Chips Online
  • cubana on December 13, 2004
    i took connections last year and it was a complete waste of time. i didnt learn anything i didnt already know and the only helpful thing about it was that during that period we got to get help for other classes.
  • alumna3 (View Email) on December 13, 2004
    Good and bad I think the Fresh wing fresh team is....

    bad because you cannot skip one class without the others teacehrs knowing...

    bad because you LC connectionss..that is some major BS!.. i think it should be ptial in that if you are academically sound(3.0 and higher with no failing grades) you may use connections period to sleep or play online or you can ust not be at balit or that period... a reward for being successful in you academics...
    this does imitate life bcause i was exempted
    from 3 of my final exams becasue i did my work throught all the semester adn had an a in tehcourse anyways

    i agree with meh: there should be a period for the whole entire school to take a 20 minute nap..like HispanicLatin siestas. You are up more refreshed and pay more attention.

    connections is good becasue you are able to get more help after you looked at the homework on your own at home and still could not figure it out, so you will not get that question wrong you now....
  • TEH GRUK on December 14, 2004
    I HAVE TO AGREE THE NEW FARSH WING IS A SUCESS.

    I LOVE TO GO THERE TO PICK UP CHIX. IT HAS MADE LYFE SO MUCH EZIER.
  • to teh gruk on December 16, 2004
    teh gruk, please tell me you're not an upper classman. if you are, shame on you. robbing the cradle, tsk tsk. if you're not, well done.
  • to teh gruk on December 16, 2004
    YOU APALL ME!!!... thats dispicable.... my god... what has this world come to?...
  • big m-money (View Email) on December 16, 2004
    yo dis story be blingin like wo, holla
  • AAAHH NO on December 18, 2004 at 10:11 PM
    I DONT THINK THE WING IS GOOD.
    I THINK THAT PPL CANT GET TO CHAT WITH THERE OTHER FRIENDS THAT ARE IN THE SCHOOL AND YOU GET STUK CING THESE RTRDD PPL EVERY DAY.
    AT LEAST BFOR U COULD C EVERY ONE. AHHH NE WAYS I STILL HAVE 2 WALK FROM THE 1 SIDE OF THE 1ST FLORE TO THE OTHR END OF THE 3RD FLOOR. YA THAT SUCKS. AHHH ANY WAYS I PERSONALY DONT LIKE IT.
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