Board members want to see more teens SOARingRed Wing High School’s SOAR program will continue to be a for-credit class through the 2013-14 school year, but school officials have opened the door for future expansion and changes to the course.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing High School’s SOAR program will continue to be a for-credit class through the 2013-14 school year, but school officials have opened the door for future expansion and changes to the course.
“SOAR is a wonderful program,” board member Paul Kramp said. “But I believe SOAR is the only course that we offer that we limit the enrollment on.… I’d like to see those great things happening in that course be available for all students that want to sign up for it.”
SOAR, which stands for success, opportunity, achievement and recognition, is a one-credit class offered to juniors and seniors and has students work on projects that support a positive school environment. This is the high school’s version of the nationwide Jostens Renaissance, which is led by Charley Nelson of Red Wing. The former high school teacher founded SOAR.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, the School Board voted unanimously to approve the Red Wing High School’s program of studies as is – leaving SOAR as a for-credit course.
But a caveat was added to the motion which will allow more students to be accepted into the SOAR class if administration and the instructor see fit. Currently, about 15 to 16 students are accepted into the class each year.
“I could support SOAR if we develop a program in that framework that would be available to any student that wanted to sign up for it,” Kramp said. “Why are we limiting this?”
SOAR instructor Chad Bray said in an interview with the R-E that the class needs to be kept at a smaller size in order to hold students accountable for their tasks.
“I’ve had larger groups in the past, and when the group is too big, it’s easy for the kids to wait for someone else to do the work,” he said.
“One year, I had 21 or 22 kids in there. (Kids) could kind of slip through the cracks … waiting for someone else to do it.”
SOAR has been under the board’s microscope for some time. Earlier this school year, board members raised concerns about having a math teacher advise the program when the math department has large class sizes. They also discussed whether students should receive credit for the class.
“To me, it should almost be a function of the student council,” sboard member Steve Anderson said of SOAR’s activities. “The different things they work on are almost more like an activity than a class.”
Tuesday’s motion won’t make SOAR an after-school activity. But board members discussed the topic at length.
@Sub heads:Other for-credit courses examined
@Normal1: SOAR isn’t the only class to catch the board’s eye. Members also questioned the yearbook publication class, teacher aide classes and student tutoring classes.
The main concern was about the curriculum for these courses and whether students learn enough to actually receive credit for taking them.
Vice chair Mike Christensen said the yearbook class has the potential to teach students journalism skills, but currently it’s more of a “scrapbook” class.
“I would love to see kids do research and reporting. There are great things that you could fold into yearbook class,” he said. “But to call it a yearbook class is a disservice.”
Still, board members agreed that the courses the high school offers – which include multiple advanced placement classes — are generally above par.
“I think we have wonderful curriculum,” Kramp said. “But we do need to continue to be vigilant and change with the times. This is one of the most important things the board takes action on, so I don’t take it lightly. There’s always room for improvement.”