Golden Apple: Cass Lake-Bena Bounces Back From Persistently Low-Performing Ranking
In 2012, the high school was named an Initial Priority School by the Minnesota Department of Education. Priority schools are the five percent most persistently low-performing Title I schools in the state. The department considered proficiency, growth, achievement gap reduction, and graduation rates.
“We’ve ascended from that,” said Principal Bryan Hackbarth.
The district took swift action, becoming a reward school for the 2014 to 2015 school year for improvements in these areas.
“I think this staff and the students understand that we don’t want to settle for just improvement,” said Principal Hackbarth. “We want to continue to make gains every year and I think that has happened.”
“For a small school, we have a lot of opportunities,” said Roselee Brown, the school’s guidance counselor.
Through AP courses and Project Lead The Way, which provides different courses such as engineering for college credit, teacher are giving students get a taste of post-grad studies.
“Families that have never had a student be in college have 9th graders, 10th graders, and on up earning college credits while they’re here,” said Brown.
Madi White, a junior, is preparing to take the ACT test in the spring through the school. She’ll need good scores in order to get into her pick of the Twin Cities.
“Practice tests are helping me to figure out what I need to work on to get a better score,” said White.
Sydney Foster is planning on going to UND Grand Forks with a major in speech pathology. She says staff have been very supportive through the application process.
“[They’re] always trying to help you get to that next step of like scholarships, a FAFSA, anything that you need, they’re there to help you,” said Foster, a senior.
For some of the students, they’re holding out to their careers course to get a better understand of opportunities that lie ahead.
“I’m just going to make my decision later on in the year when I get into career classes or AP [courses],” said Michael Staples, a junior. He said he was looking forward to AP Statistics.
Teachers hope that projects such as a remote controlled, moving recliner made by the students will help inspire them when deciding about post-grad options.