Golden Apple: Cass Lake-Bena High School’s 9th Grade Academy
Cass Lake-Bena High School is providing freshman students with a solid structure as they transition into high school through its 9th Grade Academy.
“It gives them a basis as to what education is about,” said Cass Lake-Bena 9th Grade Academy Teacher Cooper Helwig. “In the community, I think that they see that they can achieve here. They have a sense of achievement that they can do in their life.”
The academy is in its second year and currently has about 65 students and one goal.
“For the students to graduate high school and go on to higher levels of education and so forth,” said Helwig.
Nikolai Olson says his adjustment to the freshman academy has been great. He looks forward to coming to school everyday to learn.
“It’s been really fun,” said Olson. “Teachers are great, similar to middle school, but more choices.”
In the first semester, students take five core classes such as Math, English and Physical Science. They also have a choice of one elective. The classes help students get started and learn what’s required of them in high school and it’s paying off.
“About 20 percent increase in reading,” said Helwig. “I think it’s been about 10 percent in math test scores on the MCA’s and accelerated reading.”
This year the Academy incorporated a seminar period, which consists of smaller classes, so teachers can work with students one-on-one.
“We would look to make students successful by creating good study habits, keeping students organized, increase their reading skills, wanting them to receive all their credit their ninth-grade year, so that they can move forward and not be behind,” said Cass Lake-Bena 9th Grade Academy Instructional Coach Amber Bellino.
Illeana Brown says she likes the overall class experience and having her classes next to each other. Brown says she’s been able to balance her new workload as a freshman in high school.
“If you’re not caught up with your stuff, you can go to after school tutoring and they’ll help you there,” said Brown.
Perfect attendance is also encouraged. Ninth-graders also compete in a competition with sophomores, juniors and seniors. They’ve won the attendance competition twice in six weeks.