Middle school students in the Avondale Elementary School District continue to experience success through its accelerated high school program.
As part of the accelerated program, students participate in high school algebra, band, choir and Spanish lessons in the supply school district, Agua Fria Union High School District. Participating institutions are Agua Fria and Desert Edge High Schools.
The program was established 12 years ago and continues to grow each school year.
“By bringing all of our eligible children to high school, we are able to maximize that learning opportunity for them,” said Avondale Elementary School District Superintendent Dr. Betsy Hargrove.
“It was about making sure our kids had every opportunity to have that experience in their educational program and that kids who were ready for those higher-level classes, as well as enrichment classes, got those credits and are already starting high school. ”
Participating students are transported to high school feeding up to four days a week.
While the goal is to have high school students receive high school credits before their freshman year, Hargrove said the increased confidence is a bonus.
“When they go into this program and then become high school freshmen, they already know the campus, they know the high school staff members, they know the lay of the land, they know what the expectations are, and they step in. really ahead of the curve,” she said.
Hargrove said teachers and staff at feeder schools are excited about young students who have the high school experience.
“I know very well that the high school administrators and staff easily recognize our children,” she said.
“We have never heard anything but praise for their incredible skill and talent. Whether we are talking about math or talking about children in our bilingual language immersion program, we also have our children who attend choir and band in high school just to be able to have those opportunities that are more than necessarily what we can offer in a primary school.
The program has grown since a former superintendent introduced it over a decade ago. It offers a growing number of classes as well as enrichment opportunities, such as an orchestra and choir.
Desert Edge Choir director Amy Lowe said having middle schoolers interact and learn with her high school students has brought a whole new joy to her class.
“I love having them here,” she said. “The partnership itself is incredible. These children are very interested in music and it is a great opportunity to acquire and develop this knowledge even before entering their first year of high school.
Amelia Nicholson, an eighth grader at Desert Star who attends classes at Desert Edge High School, said her math skills have improved thanks to the accelerated program.
“The teacher, Mr. Flores, doesn’t teach the lessons too fast or too slow,” Nicholson said. “It allows me to better understand the material and also to help others if they have difficulties. I’m excited to show my parents my grades because I was able to maintain A’s and B’s with the challenging work.
Although she admits to feeling overwhelmed at first, Nicholson said the accelerated program benefited her as a middle schooler and set her up for success in high school.
“There are many benefits to going to high school and seeing how it works, like the campus layout and the classrooms and the transitions between periods,” she said. “My favorite thing about this course is that I meet new people, learn new content and also get challenged mathematically.”
Hargrove said she was looking forward to getting into track.
“We were able to build it and grow it and we never looked back,” she said. “It’s something where we’re actually leaning forward and talking about adding athletic elements with high school athletes, also working with one of our sites for CTE and exploring college career and working with high school instructors.”
To participate in the accelerated program of algebra courses, students must demonstrate their ability to reach a higher level. However, for enrichment classes, students can enroll regardless of their musical abilities.
“We wouldn’t want a factor to stop them from participating, so it’s really a holistic look,” Hargrove said.
“As far as the choir and the band, I think one of the best pieces about those two things is the fact that they may never have been in a choir before, but if they’re interested, they can go and participate in this experience, where they are instructed by the high school teacher, it kind of elevates the experience.
Hargrove said young people learning from high school students are exciting.
“They even work with our children after school, when they don’t have to be there,” she says.
“They will work with them and help them have those experiences. And we actually got our kids involved in high school community facing events, which is amazing.
Hargrove said the program would not be possible without the quality of the students.
“I really believe that what we do at Avondale is to have them imagine themselves in the future,” she said.
“It’s just a whole system that feeds because it gets better as we go along and develop it and provide more and more opportunities, but we couldn’t do it without a such an amazing relationship with high school and groups of kids seeing each other in the future, not just in the moment but in the future and wanting to be able to have those experiences.