Students who graduated this week from a summer academy that prepped them for the jump to middle school are leaving the program better students and better people, the graduates and their teachers said.
The Student Success Academy graduated 77 rising fifth graders during a ceremony Thursday night at J.H. Rose High School. Families and supporters packed the auditorium and listened to testimonies from the students who spent five weeks of their summer strengthening their reading and math skills.
“All in all, I feel SSA has helped me prepare for the sixth grade,” Shanora Hines-Farmer said. “SSA has also allowed me to meet new friends from different schools. Because of SSA I feel that I am ready to take on the sixth grade.”
Coordinated by Pitt County Schools and United Way of Pitt County, the academy held classes at Farmville Middle School, A.G. Cox Middle School, Wellcome Middle School and Building Hope Community Center.
It is designed to help struggling students meet local and state standards in core academic subjects. It also focuses on activities that involve science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Jackie Smithwick, program director, said testing showed that all of the student met state test standards for reading, math and and character education skills.
“The results are in and I am happy to announce that all sites made growth,” she said. “That’s amazing.”
Smithwick smiled widely as she stood as the podium. “I’m proud of each of you and wish you all the best of luck in your future years,” she said said.
Hines-Farmer, who attended the Wellcome site, said reading non-fiction articles, practicing equations and reviewing the seven habits of highly effective students were among work she and the other students completed. They also took several field trips.
For Diamond Wooten, outings to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and East Carolina University were highlights. Problem solving and reading aloud also ranked high for the rising sixth-grader, who attended the Building Hope site.
“We also did writing activities, which included a five paragraph essay, and I am very grateful for the chance to improve my reading, writing and math skills,” Wooten said. “If given the option again I would participate in the Summer Success Academy.”
Norman McDuffie, principal at A.G Cox, challenged the students to be leaders, avoid peer pressure and think about their actions.
“At some point in time you’re going to have to make a decision to do what’s right,” McDuffie said, encouraging parents to help them along the way. “Parents I know you’re working with your students, hoping they make good decisions all the time.”