Dwindling Scholar Population at ASK Causes Concern Among Student Body

October 3, 2019

News

Photo by Kylie Gutierrez-Jones Scholars use academic probation as a way to stay organized and on top work

By Kylie Gutierrez-Jones

Being a smaller school, ASK tends to have a very tight-knit family-like community and it upsets scholars when classmates leave the Academy, especially in large numbers. At the beginning of this year, many scholars from the upper-grade levels left as a result of having to attend academic probation, having low grades and missing credits, or the narrow class selection at ASK.  Part of that is driven by ASK’s higher graduation requirements, and the electives reflect career pathways. 

“It hurts us to lose our community members,” says Daniel Busse, General Manager at The ASK Academy, “I don’t want kids to leave, I want them to stay here and be successful.”

At the beginning of the year, he said it is not uncommon to see scholars leaving, especially in the beginning of 9th grade and the second semester of 10th grade.  

“11th grade and 12th grade you’re starting to look at your future,”  says Busse, “That’s a fairly definitive time.” 

 Academic probation at The ASK Academy is The ASK Academy’s new procedure of helping recover missing credits and be successful.

Overseen by Candice Lemons, the Achievement Coach, the program identifies who is failing which classes. “I work on getting letters sent out and communicating with parents. I try to put strategies into place through the Friday school to give more hands-on support and make sure kids are following through,” she said. Lemons said at the end of the day, it is up to the scholar to decide how much work they are willing to put in. “We don’t want to make anyone feel like they have to be here if they don’t want to,” she said.

Probation requires additional steps for scholars, such as coming in on Fridays to raise their grades.

“It alerts us that a scholar is not doing well in at least 2 of their major classes,” Busse said. “We do have Friday mornings and now Friday afternoon school also for credit recovery.”

 28 credits are required to graduate from ASK, and some scholars go into their sophomore year with only 4 or 5 credits. Credit recovery is a big deciding factor for scholars and their families when thinking about switching schools and the academic probation meetings help families see how many credits their scholar has and if they will gain enough credits in time to graduate in four years. For most scholars, they would prefer to graduate sooner than later and make the decision on what school to attend based on the information given during academic probation meetings. 

“I think part of it is doing a self-assessment and saying, ‘I’m not gonna graduate in 3 or 4 years so maybe I would be better off going to another school with fewer credits,” Busse said.

Former ASK scholar,  Aalina Aragon says the reason why she left was that the workload was becoming too much for her was only getting bigger.

“The workload could be very difficult at times and it seemed like the teachers would assign work after work,” Aragon said. “I was also behind on credits which left me with a slim chance of graduating.” Being that The Ask Academy requires a total of 28 credits, she felt like going to a school that required fewer credits would benefit her academically. After switching schools at the beginning of this year, she realized how much she liked the opportunities at her new school.

Former ASK scholar Haley Smith did not think that 28 credits were too hard to reach.  “I just needed more options that would benefit my career in the future,” she said. She is currently taking forensics at Rio Rancho High School in preparation to become a Firefighter or an EMT and plans on taking dual credit classes more focused on fire training when she turns 16. 

“They (ASK) did not offer classes I was interested in,”  Smith said.

Smith also stated that at a larger high school, there is a wider variety of clubs and sports.  A lot of scholars that attend ASK are active in sports such as football, wrestling, and track, which ASK does not offer.

Busse agrees that there are limited options at ASK but he hopes that does not deter students from enrolling at ASK. 

 “We don’t have a football team, we don’t have a wrestling team; we have what we can. But can you do that outside of school? Yes. All of our scholars can participate in Rio Rancho’s athletic and extracurricular programs,” Busse said.  “I have a master’s degree in English yet I’m in a STEM school. That different way of looking at life can also be a part of something .” 

 

Additional reporting by Kira Padilla 

 

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