Pike Road’s first senior class forging traditions for future
This fall will mark two firsts for Pike Road Schools (PRS) when the system’s inaugural senior and Pre-K classes begin. About 100 students will be part of the historic PRS senior class, said Rebecca Williams, communications and federal programs coordinator for PRS. “The majority of the class came to Pike Road as eighth graders the first year we opened, 2015,” she said, adding that there are 104 seniors enrolled for the fall at Pike Road High School.
As the initial senior assembly, the class will have the opportunity to establish traditions that hundreds of students will take part in for years to come. Teacher Kathleen Griswell has taken on the role of senior class sponsor, Williams said. “She is one of the original lead learners (teachers) at PRS. Therefore, she has been with these students from the beginning,” Williams said. “She has worked tirelessly, along with a senior committee made up of students, to plan activities and create traditions.”
PRS seniors were quick to take advantage of their honored status. One of their first traditions will be painting senior parking spaces. But there’s much more, including forming friendships with those who will be in their shoes more than a decade from now.
“Students will have the opportunity to reserve a (parking) spot and paint the spot to reflect their personality,” Williams said. “Another fun tradition we plan to incorporate includes a senior being paired with two kindergarten students, senior buddies. Seniors will visit their buddies frequently and will participate in a Senior Walk near the end of the year. In addition, the committee is working to plan a powder puff game, themed Spirit Fridays, a field day, baccalaureate, and a senior brunch.”
To prepare the class for what’s ahead after they receive their diplomas, PRS is teaming with businesses to set up work-based learning (WBL) or apprenticeship opportunities for seniors.
“We believe that students are more engaged when they are solving real world problems for a real audience and that meaningful learning can occur any time at any location,” Williams said. “WBL will provide an avenue for our learners (students) to do just that, and we are excited about being able to provide our first senior class with this opportunity.”
Each student had to apply, interview, and be accepted into the WBL program. There will be 18 students participating during the 2019-2020 school year. They are required to declare a career objective, obtain a job placement, and earn at least 140 clock hours in order to earn high school credit.
“The learners (students) are very eager to gain hands-on experiences through partnerships with local businesses,” Williams said. “Learners at Pike Road High School have a wide array of career interests. Our learners have gained classroom experience through CTE (Career Technical Education) courses at Pike Road High School, and college courses at Trenholm State Community College.”
The Pike Road system is seeking employers willing to participate in the areas of agriculture, computer science, engineering, graphic design, health science, information technology, law, manufacturing, retail, theatre, and veterinary science.
Local businesses who would like more information can contact Tiffany Yelder at 334-420-5309, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In more than a decade, 18 members of a Pre-K class this fall could be part of another proud PRS senior class.
PRS has received a $120,000 one-year grant to help fund a Pre-K program for 18 students age 4.
“The funds supplement start-up costs,” Williams said. “Funds can be used for playgrounds, furniture and materials that are developmentally appropriate, as well as Early Childhood Education certified teachers, and auxiliary teachers.”
The PRS system also is providing money to support the program.
The students will be selected by a random lottery drawing. This drawing will be open to the public and supervised by Office of School Readiness Personnel, who will be on site. Families will be notified within two days whether their children are selected or placed on waiting lists.
“We have almost 80 applicants who have applied to be a part of this program,” Williams said. “We are in the process of hiring teachers and have a great list of potential candidates for the lead and auxiliary teacher.”
PRS staff will be evaluating the class as the system considers expanding the in-demand Pre-K initiative.
“While we do not have a formal timeline for expansion, PRS is eager to grow and to serve the families in our community through early learning programs as early years are the foundation for later learning,” Williams said. “We will closely review the program this year and use that information as we weigh options for expansion in the future.”
Numerous studies have shown that students who have participated in high-quality Pre-K programs are less likely to repeat a grade, require remedial education, or be placed in special education.
They also score higher on achievement tests, are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college, land higher-paying salaries as adults, and are more likely to stay out of prison and off welfare, according to the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.