Changes in store for underclassmen programs

Two 9/10 blended programs and a new cluster may be added to the school’s roster in a move to enhance the ninth and 10th grade programs.

The Drake Leadership Council considered three proposals on Jan. 25.

The Galileo cluster – English teacher Kay Cavan, science teacher Bettina Hughes, PE. teacher Mary Boston and resource specialist Charley Ehmann – would like to convert into a 9/10 blended program. If the school implements this proposal, an as yet undecided social studies teacher will join.

“I hope we can offer more opportunities for 9/10 blended programs,” said Cavan. “I think that’s what the whole staff hopes as well.”

Another proposal wants to add technology teacher Rod Milstead to the ninth grade Navigator cluster: English teacher Flk11 Strempek and social studies teacher Dan Freeman. Students who do not enroll in a foreign language as freshmen will be considered for this cluster.

“In the past, many incoming freshmen have put off a language until sophomore year to make a smoother adjustment to high school,” Strempek said. “We feel Navigator would give students a strong background in computer literacy that would serve them in good stead, not just for a language course, but for all courses here.”

The final proposal deals with the 11/12 blended Drake Integrated Global Studies (DIGS). With social studies teacher Tristan Bodle leaving the academy next year, World Arts teacher Jack Sims has two ideas for revamping the academy.

The first maintains it as an 11/12 program but changes social studies to an English class. The second makes the program a 9/10 blended program integrating World Arts, English. and social studies. Sims said prefers the second.

“It appears that the curriculum at 11th and 12th grade wasn’t as good a match… it would be easier to integrate at 9/10,” he said.

Currently, freshman applicants choose between entering the Mobius or ROCK blended programs or going into a cluster (two or three teachers who share the same students in a mix of the core subjects of integrated science, social studies. and English).

The emphasis on the ninth and 10th grades is a national trend, according to World Languages chair Jane Guinn.

“National and California data shows that the transition from middle to high school is hard,” she said. “Personalization became important and from personalization came our clusters and academies.”

Principal Don Drake wants to make sure that it doesn’t seem that the school is making a value judgment about one program over another.

“It’s mostly driven by choice-what students want. The reason some 11 / 12 academies have gone away is because students made other choices,” he said.

He also added that the community is requesting the 9/10 programs.

“There is a demand in the community for these blended programs,” he said. “We’re trying to meet that demand.”