High Hopes in Selma

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Levi Marshall said there should be no reason for students in the Selma City School System to not pass the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. With ample opportunities to receive free tutoring, failure is an option that cannot easily be filled-in with a No. 2 pencil.

From now until July 16, Marshall, a Success Specialist, along with the non-profit Selma Coalition Offering Peaceful Experiences and a group of college tutors, is giving students in the City School System the help they need in order to pass this important test.

The tutorial program known as High Hopes is funded through the State Department of Education and offers additional instruction in the five core areas covered in the graduation exam-math, science, language, reading, and social studies.

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“This program was started to help students through remediation and specifically target their areas of weakness,” Marshall said. “Our main focus is on those incoming seniors who have taken the graduation exam before and failed parts or all of it.”

Throughout the week in room 257 at Selma High School, students spend at least an hour using computer software or receiving classroom lectures on any of the five subject areas.

“Since this program was implemented four years ago, our success has been on the incline. We get amazing results every year,” Marshall said. “It has also helped the system meet accountability requirements.”

High Hopes is not only for incoming high school seniors, Marshall said, but also underclassman looking to get a step ahead.

“If students passed Algebra in the ninth-grade, they have an opportunity to take the math portion of the test,” Marshall said. “We have had an influx of underclassman who are signing up for the program and will be taking the test in July.”

Felecia Pettway, a SCOPE member, creates schedules for students in the summer and fall in order for them to receive tutoring.

Once students are enrolled in the free program, she said, they are asked to attend a certain number of hours and make a point of showing up on time.

“In the fall, teachers give up their prep periods to help students study,” Pettway said. “Students can get help during their elective period and even on weekends.”

So far, about 40 students have enrolled in High Hopes this summer, and there is plenty room for more.

The tutorial program will also continue every day during the summer installment of the graduation exam, which takes place on July 14 through 16.

“This is an important program that is going on,” said Penny Williams, administrator of the graduation exam of the City School System. “I really want to encourage students to take the test this summer because it’s the last time they can take the second edition of the graduation exam.”

Marshall said those who have already finished high school but did not pass the graduation exam can still come back at take the test in order to receive their diploma.

“We are here to help everyone, those who are still in school and those who are not,” Marshall said.

Williams said the graduation exam will be given at promptly 8:30 a.m. each day, so students need to arrive at Selma High School by around 8:15 a.m.