A Tradition of Excellence since 1657

Transition Program in its Sixth Year
in Huntington

A specially crafted program to help J. Taylor Finley Middle School eighth grade students who have failed multiple classes successfully transition into Huntington High School is now in its sixth year. The initiative utilizes a structured small class environment to develop the academic skills needed to pass courses required for graduation.

If participants pass the classes offered through the program and the freshmen level courses they are introduced to, they are on their way to getting back to their grade level by their junior year and can even graduate on time.

"I originally introduced the program at the high school because students who had failed multiple academic courses at Finley continued to fail as ninth graders and ended up repeating that grade," said Dr. Carmela Leonardi, principal of Huntington High School. "The transition program has not only given students an opportunity to pass courses but also catch up and be able to graduate with their cohort."

Teachers Michael Procaccini, Fred Bisogno, Helen Guarino and Mike Graziano are are working with students in the program this year. Dr. Leonardi said it "has been a success for those students who had developed negative attitudes towards school and school work."

The teenagers enrolled in the transition program are considered eighth graders, but they are still provided with an opportunity to earn some high school level credit. The program incorporates study and organizational skills, stresses attendance and helps develop an effective work ethic in participants. There's even a counseling component.

"In this class, students will be provided with support to develop and improve their study skills," according to the program brochure. The initiative features not only small class sizes but differentiated instruction for students sitting in the same classroom. Teachers claim this has been effective in developing the basic academic skills participants had been lacking previously.

"Teachers have developed plans to implement a project based unit of study focusing on student interests and student choice," Dr. Leonardi said. "These content based units are challenging and engaging and can better captivate the participation of unmotivated students."

The program's team of teachers communicates daily to review the progress of each one of the participants, which helps ensure their success. They become very passionate about each individual and their path to success. By the end of the year, the team feels like it's formed a new family. Teachers and students frequently continue to communicate even after the students move on the following year.

The program was developed after high school officials reviewed the transcripts of freshmen who failed multiple classes and discovered that many of the same teenagers had earlier failed courses at the middle school level, continuing a trend of being less than successful.

For more information contact the guidance office at 673-2011.

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