Town Crier News Staff
Operation 2011, a mentoring program started at Manila High School this school year, partners incoming freshmen with upper classmen. The goal of Operation 2011 is encouraging leadership, community service, and help new high school students make a smooth transition from junior high to senior high. The ultimate mission of the program is to increase graduation numbers.
"We have had outstanding teacher, community, and student support for the program," Pam Chipman, high school principal, said.
The year kicked off with an Operation 2011 back to school bash for the ninth grade class and parents. Students had the opportunity to meet the mentors, staff, look over class schedules and tour the high school.
During the September meeting students enjoyed a 30 minute program, "A Hero Within" by Paul Vitale with the theme, "You Can't Finish Unless You Begin."
Vitale will be spending a day on the Manila campus later in the year.
Another guest speaker planned to be in Manila is Chad Fostner, co-creator of High School 101, an innovative strategy focusing on preparing students for the transition from middle school to high school.
The October meeting was spent discussing goal setting, time management, grades, discipline and attendance.
"We have received a $750 grant from Economic Arkansas to be used to purchase student planners," Chipman said. "We also received Carl Perkins funding for curriculum."
"We've seen an amazing difference in attitudes and relationships between freshmen and upper classmen," Chipman said. "Our ninth grade attendance is up and grades are up. Last year's ninth grade class and this year's ninth grade class have the same number of students and are academically comparable. Last year at the end of the first nine weeks we had 28 classes failed by ninth graders. This year the number is down to nine."
LeeAnn Helms, sponsors for Operation 2011, said the program is working.
"Every freshman is involved in at least one club," Helms said. "Our students have set a goal of collecting 1,000 cans of food for the Manila Lions Club Christmas baskets as one of their community efforts. Our team leaders have been invited to present our program at the Principal's Conference in December. We are excited and looking forward to being there."
Chipman and Helms said their goal is to see every freshman graduate in 2011. They also want to see the program continued to help future students.
Statistics will be kept and compared over the next four years.
"Again, I want to express appreciation to all of the area businesses and individuals for their support in this project and other projects benefiting our students," Chipman said.