Friday, about 30 Stanfield Secondary School students gathered in the cafeteria to make up homework assignments, write essays and meet with teachers.

For most school districts, the tables stocked with textbooks and calculators wouldn’t seem out of place on a Friday.

In Stanfield, however, a four-day school week typically means empty hallways and dark classrooms on Friday mornings.

But for those 30 students, an “Academic Friday” is an opportunity to improve grades and receive a bit of extra help from teachers and National Honor Society members.

“I’ve been to pretty much every one. I used to be failing four classes. Now I’m only failing one, and I’m working on that,” sophomore Sofia Medina said. “It’s a chance to catch up on your grades. You’re more focused over here, it’s quiet and you can get your work done and have resources like teachers.”

Principal Bryan Johnson said the school developed the “Academic Friday” program this year to extend learning time and hold students accountable for their grades.

Offered about every other week, two teachers are on hand for each Academic Friday from 8 a.m. until noon.

Students bring handouts showing what assignments they are missing for class, and staff members check off the list and accept the missing assignments.

“They just come in, get their work done, get help if they need it,” Johnson said. “Once they get their work done, they turn in their sheet, and they go. This is not a punishment, it’s an opportunity. The goal is to help the kids become responsible and get their work done.”

The program is geared toward students with at least one D or F, but during Academic Friday, students also have the opportunity to work in computer labs, write essays and complete credit retrieval programs.

“We’re really looking for kids to have at least a C,” Johnson said. “At the end of September, over 90 students had an F.

Last check, that number had dropped to 60, and a number of students who had multiple Fs only have one.”

Language arts teacher Daniel Sharp said he has seen an improvement in students who attend the Academic Fridays.

“In my class, kids are usually pretty happy with a D. They just want to skate by, but I’ve seen a lot of those students now working, getting stuff done and getting their Bs and Cs,” Sharp said. “As a teacher, I don’t mind coming and helping out. It’s beneficial to the students, improving their education, and that’s my job.”

As many as 60 students have attended the Academic Friday sessions in a single day; the enrollment at Stanfield Secondary School is about 240.

Staff said they will continue to track progress until the end of the year, tweak the program and bring it back again in 2013-14.

“It’s been a pretty good response from the students,” Johnson said. “I think the parents really appreciate it.”

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