By Fatama Zohra’15
Skipping class, roaming the halls, dodging teachers and security guards to not get in trouble—many students tend to do that, but a new program has challenged those days for some students and has given them a little nudge in a new direction.
The Push Start program, run by Mr. Richard Franzese, began in the spring of 2013, but initially the idea was proposed ten years ago. Due to budgeting issues, the program was unable to progress then, but currently it is in full swing. This program targets “hall walkers”, and students who show a pattern on attending some classes but not others.
“It’s not that they are bad kids, some of them just have obstacles going to class or being in class,” said Mr. Franzese. “The whole idea of this is, in order to go one step forward, we need to take two steps back.”
According to a CNN article, Why Students Skip School, a study showed that pupils who skip more than ten days are 20 percent less likely to get a high school diploma and are 25 percent less likely to enroll in higher education.
Mr. Franzese explains, “When a student cuts, it’s a reaction to frustration. The kids may not understand the class, are bored with it, may not take their education seriously or some don’t really know how to take education seriously. With the support systems implemented in the school, we are able to give the kids who cut the services and support they need to make better choices.”
The high schoolers in this program are isolated in a room where the teacher comes to them, rather than them traveling go from class to class. This method limits the chances for cutting.
“I had very bad anxiety and that led me to cut class,” said Sasha Bor ’15, a current member who chose to be in Push Start. “I actually left school to be home schooled and when I came back, I thought this was a good program for me because it’s confined. It really restricts your way of getting out of the school.”
People in this program are mostly offered a seat by selection. The parents of the pupil who is selected then have a meeting with Mr. Franzese and decide on the placement of the child to be in the Push Start program or to deny it. According to Mr. Franzese, most parents agree to place the child in this program and think it is one of the best things to do for a situation such as this. Each student is welcomed to talk about this program with Mr. Franzese, and some have even decided to opt for it themselves.
“It was almost an addiction to cut last year,” said Jaun Pozo ’17, a former pupil of the program. “It was too easy to cut and so I just did, but this program helped me to understand to take things more seriously.”
Teachers for this program are carefully selected and even a couple of deans teach the program.
“The teachers are so dedicated to the students,” said Amanda VanHorn ’15, another former student of this program who cut because she wasn’t focused on school. “ I felt like I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time, since I didn’t want to be in a school environment, which also made me cut. This program helped me because the teachers made sure you were focused and pushed you with each task.”
The three students said that they were encouraged to come to the program because it felt like the teachers actually cared and didn’t treat you harshly because of the cutting problem. VanHorn also states that the classes were fun and everyone is connected.
From last year, credit accumulation increased 30 percent within the program.
“Last year, I had almost no credits at all, but this year I’m passing all my classes,” said Pozo smiling.
In regard to others, who are not in the program, who have similar cutting problems, Sasha Bor’15 said, “I recommend telling your teachers that you have a cutting problem. You can cut for a week and then the next week you won’t feel like going because it’s so easy not to go. The teachers won’t look at you the same and their standards for you will fall. You should tell them about the problem so you can work something out with the teachers so you don’t end up failing.”
All three students interviewed would recommend this program to any Hornet struggling with cutting class.
Everyone works together in the class and it feels as if… it’s a little team, said Pozo.