Planning a decade ahead

Class aims to help students prepare for future, curb dropout rates

If you go

What: Freshman Transition Initiative

When: 9 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., April 30

Where: Moffat County School District Administrative Building, 775 Yampa Ave.

Cost: $50 for full-day lessons, $25 for half-day lessons

For more information, call Mary Ann Arguello at 826-6263

When Dr. Rebecca Dedmond looked at high school drop out rates four years ago, she knew she had to do more.

"We're losing too many students," Dedmond said. "Sure, we can count them, but even five is too many."

To help curb the dropout rate, and present students with a positive alternative, Dedmond, the director of School Counseling at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., founded the Freshman Transition Initiative.

On April 30, Dedmond will present an intensive seminar on transitioning from eighth grade to high school, and how to curb the dropout rate.

The Moffat County School District and the Work & Life Skills Coalition are sponsoring the program.

"We need to help our young students think in to the future," she said. "We want them to have a can-do attitude, that they can be contributing members of society, and have a happy life doing something they enjoy."

Dedmond said there are several reasons students drop out of high school.

"Research shows that students who drop out of school do so for three reasons," Dedmond said. "The first reason is because of grades. They don't feel they are able to pass a class, and decide not to go anymore. The second reason is because they see no meaning in their classes - they don't see how a class will help them later in their lives.

"The third reason is because they don't feel engaged when they are in school."

One way to keep students interested is by having students complete a 10-year plan.

"First, we want to connect students with a teacher or advisor," Dedmond said. "The advisors can work with the students to focus their curriculum throughout the year."

A large portion of the initiative is to find what interests students, and to keep students motivated to continue down a career path.

And if a student finds another path they believe suits them better, they can adjust their 10-year plan, Dedmond said.

"The students can revisit their plans several times during the year, as they pick up more knowledge about the different career paths laid out in front of them," she said. "Or, if the students choose, they can stay on the same path they picked in the beginning of the year."

Part of getting students involved with a career path is making ensuring they are pursuing the right career, Dedmond said.

"The goal is to get students connected to adults in related fields, so they can get a good feel for the path they decide to choose," she said. "And, if they have to, be looking to change plans to find a field that suits them a little better."

Making a 10-year plan starts with selecting the right classes, Dedmond said.

"Students, when they get to the ninth grade level, might not know which English courses they should be taking, or which math classes," she said. "In their 10-year plan they should be asking 'Who am I?' and 'How do I get there?'"

Dedmond said parents should have an active role in helping their children select a career path, and to shape their 10-year plan. Dedmond will present a "Train the Trainer" program, to help parents with transitioning students.

"We plan our vacations and our budgets," she said. "Parents should help their children plan for the next steps in their life."

The first part of the program will be for administrators to develop transition programs, or to improve the transition programs that are currently in place.

The registration fee for non-School District employees is $50 for a full day, and $25 for the half-day. RSVP by April 24.

Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or bbulkeley@craigdailypress.com

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