Evanston Township High School has announced the launch of Wildkit Academy, a new academic support program available to all students on select Saturdays beginning Feb. 26.

Wildkit Academy will provide students with a place to receive academic support on the weekend from teachers and staff in select core content areas, such as math, science and history.

The concept of Wildkit Academy was developed by Chala Holland, Director of Academic Supports at the school, along with a team of ETHS teachers, administrators and staff.

During Wildkit Academy, students will have an opportunity to ask questions and share problems with teachers, or may choose to use Wildkit Academy as a space to collaborate with classmates on a group project, hold informal study groups, or work on class assignments.

The goal is to create a student-centered environment where young people will be encouraged to achieve success in the classroom and beyond.

Funded fully through Title 1 sources, Wildkit Academy is a pilot program that will be held on eight Saturdays during the second semester of the 2010-11 school year.  The dates were selected based on the school’s academic calendar, and target key times in the quarter where additional support may be needed, such as around testing dates.

Wildkit Academy includes two morning academic support sessions — 9  to 10:25 a.m. and 10:35 a.m. to noon. Students may attend one or both of the sessions, depending on their need and availability.

Students who attend will be entered into a raffle, and drawings will take place during the break time between sessions. Free snacks will also be provided to students during the mid-morning break in Boltwood Cafeteria.

Support Beyond the Classroom
Support reaches beyond the classroom at Wildkit Academy. Student athletes who attend the Saturday morning sessions will have the opportunity to fulfill their Athletic Study Table requirements. Students with detentions will be eligible to eliminate detentions by attending support sessions as an alternative to detention.

Additionally, students facing suspensions will meet with ETHS faculty to process their behavioral infractions. Holland says that this approach will provide students with suspensions an opportunity to receive academic support, build connections with staff members, and build positive relationships with other students who attend.

“We’re hoping that this support not only increases student learning and engagement, but that students will know and, more importantly, feel that we care about them. Wildkit Academy will be an environment where students will feel supported by our faculty and staff and will have opportunities to collaborate and support each other,” explained Holland.

Transportation was a key consideration for the planning committee as well. Many teens rely on public transportation to get to the high school, and local bus service is available in many neighborhoods on Saturdays.

However, bus service does not run from southeast Evanston, near Howard Street, to the high school on Saturdays. ETHS will provide bus service for students who live in this area who plan to attend Wildkit Academy.

Students interested in ETHS bus service must pick up a Transportation Consent Form from the Academic Supports Office (N124), or download the form from the school’s website. Students may return the form to N124, or to the driver upon entering the ETHS bus.

Transportation will not be provided unless the form is completed and signed by a parent or guardian. The ETHS bus is expected to arrive at Chute Middle School at 8:40 a.m. for first session pick-up and 10:10 a.m. for second session pick-up. The bus will transport students back to Chute Middle School at 12:15 p.m.

Future Plans
Administrators and teachers hope to learn a lot from this semester-long pilot program, and continue to explore better ways to support the needs of all students at ETHS. Based on the experiences of the Wildkit Academy pilot, the high school will determine whether the support program was successful, and whether to re-apply for federal funding in order to run the program again in the fall.

Assistant Superintendent/Principal Oscar Hawthorne says he’d like to see the entire school rally around the program. “We have a range of academic needs in the school. We believe all students can improve, and we need buy-in from parents, buy-in from students, buy-in from our entire faculty in making this a success,” says Hawthorne.

Wildkit Academy is free and open to all current ETHS students.  No registration is required.  The Wildkit Academy will be held on Feb. 26, March 19 and 26, April 2 and 16, May 7 and 21st and June 4. To attend, students must bring their student I.D.s, and enter through Door #31 in the rear of the school.

For more information on the Wildkit Academy pilot program, visit the ETHS website.

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