Bell rings for summer school, enrollment drops 15%
For some students, summer vacation ended July 5 and it’s back to school. With nearly 230 students attending classes at Vets High School, Summer School Principal James Hovey says he has seen a 15 percent decline in enrollment that he attributes to economic times.
For those students who have been unsuccessful in their attempts to pass various courses during the school year, summer classes give them the opportunity to earn a higher grade. Four subjects are available to those students who qualify: English, math, science and social studies.
“Most of the students are taking courses for remediation,” Hovey said. “There are a few who are taking classes for enrichment purposes.”
Students must be recommended for summer school by the school principal. Eligibility is based on academic and attendance information. Students in grades 7 to 12 are able to enroll for courses and high school students with a minimum average of less than 50 must take a studies skills course in addition to the course they have failed.
Taking the additional skills course is enforced by the School Committee for any students with a failing grade in order for them to raise it. There is a small margin of improvement allowed to the students, enough for them to officially pass the class.
Students who aren’t Warwick residents are welcomed to take classes during the summer. Although most who attend live in Warwick, for those who don’t, a higher fee is charged. For one subject, 30 hours long, it costs $220 for residents and $245 for nonresidents.
Attendance is strictly enforced because of the minimal time assigned to each course. Hovey says if a student is more than one day absent, they will be dropped from the school. Also, tardiness is not tolerated and if late more than once, it will be counted as an unexcused absence.
Math teacher Penny Seacord has dedicated her summers to educating students for the past 10 years. She says it’s very competitive to land a spot teaching throughout the summer. A paid position, teachers like Seacord like to earn extra money for the summer months.
“I had to wait my turn,” Seacord said. “I had to work my way in because the positions fill up quickly.”
Along with nine other teachers, there is support staff available for the faculty. In addition to classes, tutoring is available to students struggling with certain subjects. Logan Smith is among those students who are getting tutored in science.
“Only three days in, I passed quizzes that I failed at my other school,” Smith said. “I am now getting B’s instead of D’s.”
Seacord thinks the students tend to work harder because of the nature of the class. Usually because students’ parents have to pay for their attendance, students are more diligent to improve and complete their work promptly. With roughly 20 students per class, teachers are able to give individual attention because the class size is significantly smaller.
Some students are taking more than one course this summer in order to graduate on time. Jonathan McKenna, an upcoming senior at Pilgrim, says he didn’t do well in two English classes last semester and has to attend summer school for a passing grade.
“The work comes easy to me now,” McKenna said. “I struggled in English and the teachers here were a great help.”
Summer sessions are July 5 to Aug. 3. Classes start at 7:30 a.m. with the last class ending at 11:45 a.m. Students can stay after hours if seeking extra help.