Assessing Success At Center For Success

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Editor's note: In the interest of full disclosure, reporter Carol La Valley was part of the interview process this year for the three Center for Success juniors quoted in this story.

High school students at Payson Center for Success must go through a process, not unlike putting together a resume and sitting for a job interview, to advance to the next year of school.

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Center for Success senior Nickia Foss is interviewed by members of the community to share her experience at the school. Country Living real estate agent Gordon Hansen and Tina Crabdree, owner of Crabdree Insurance and Financial Services, asked Foss about her educational experience and her plans for the future after graduation.

"Remember this face," student Cory Culligan told his interviewers when asked what one thing he wanted them to remember about him. "It's going to be on the cover of Scientific American one day."

His goal is to graduate in October 2006, then begin college the second semester of 2007.

"It's near my October birthday and a good time to start changing my life," he said.

Graduation from high school is not going to come without work, especially since he missed a year.

Culligan is behind in math due in part to absences and tardies.

"I just can't work straight through as much as I should," he explained.

Why?

He works the late shift at a local fast food chain and finds it difficult to get up mornings after a midnight shift. Center for Success' flexible plan helps someone like Culligan succeed.

Class length can vary based on difficulty, said principal Kathe Ketchem.

"We can use discretion based on the effort the student is making," she said.

Participation in outside activities is another portfolio requirement.

Part of Culligan's portfolio was a record of the time he separated DNA when he toured the Biodesign Institute.

"I'm determined to go to college," Culligan said. "I have too many ideas. I want to be a particle physicist and study genetics or faster-than-light travel."

Portfolios are graded on seven sections that cover academic gains, different types of writing, attendance and progress.

Essays and academic gains provided on transcripts told one part of the story.

"The interview provides students with a good experience of having to talk to strangers and answer their questions," said middle school teacher and interviewer Cindy Owens.

"I think the students find it helpful even though a lot of them really don't like it," said Gordon Hansen, a retired real estate agent and three-year veteran interviewer. He has seen student grade point averages climb from year to year.

The portfolios open with a persuasive essay covering the areas in which each student felt they had made progress.

"I felt like history was the same thing from sixth grade on and remembering the details and order of events made it was my weakest subject," Krysta Ramey said during her interview. "But government is different. I've been to town council meetings and those are more interesting even though they go fast sometimes and it's hard to understand."

Words and sentence structure are what Ninette Loucks said she worked hard at improving this year.

Loucks has been in several different charter schools and said she struggled at first at PCC.

"If I need to do it, I'll do it," she said. "I've wanted to go to college since I was seven. Failing is not an option. It's been tough but I'm on the right track."

"I am impressed by student's academic achievements," said interviewer David Rennick, minister at United Methodist Church."I think they show that we learn at different levels and styles and, given the opportunity to excel, these students do so."

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