New Program Looks To Improve Ninth Grade Experience at HHS

Holyoke High School recently started a new program called the Freshmen Academy that is currently in effect for the 2016-2017 school year.


Ninth grade teacher Lori McKenna teaches students in the new Holyoke High freshman academy.

Holyoke High School recently started a new program called the Freshmen Academy for the 2016-2017 school year.

This new program was implemented in order to help students transition from eighth grade into high school. It intends to help students have a successful year and be put on the right track to graduating high school in four years.

“The Freshmen Academy is a new experience for ninth graders at Holyoke High School. Students are placed on a team and share some of the same core teachers,” said Mrs. McKenna, an adviser of the Freshmen Academy and one of the core freshmen English teachers. “These teachers work together to support students with the transition from eighth to ninth grade and help them have a successful year.”

Students this year, unlike like last year, will be participating in interdisciplinary projects. For example, one project the freshmen will be working on is based on the 2016 Presidential election. Teachers hope that incorporating relevant topics and meaningful projects will help students have more fun, be successful in their learning experience, and assist them to have a good high school year.

The freshmen started off the academy by attending a three-day orientation the week before the rest of the grades returned to the high school. During this orientation, students met their teachers, participated in scavenger hunts to help them become familiar with the school, and had a field day where students had the opportunity to interact with others and build team spirit. They learned about “Knights’ Rights” and had a picnic lunch on the last day of orientation.

The Freshmen Academy has now been up and running for a little more than three weeks. Students have mixed feelings on the Freshmen orientation and Freshmen academy.

“I think the Freshmen Academy is going really well,” said Christian Boria Co ’20. “I like how I have a lot of the same people in my classes whom I made friends with, and I like how at orientation they showed us the school, so I was better prepared on the first official day.” Erika Kane, co’20 also agrees that the Freshmen Academy was a good experience.

freshmanacademy1However, not all students are on board with the Freshmen Academy. Some students think the  Freshmen Academy has some issues that need to be addressed.

“They gave us two tours of the school and told us that the freshmen would mainly be on the second floor, which didn’t end up happening,” said Kiara Rodriguez co’20. “The orientation could have been better if they explained the halls more. Everything seemed really disorganized and we didn’t even get our schedules. I hope for next year’s freshmen things are better.”

Not receiving schedules was a common complaint heard by freshmen regarding the orientation. The teachers have heard the complaints and hope that next year things will run smoother.

“As this is the first year of the Freshmen Academy at Holyoke High School, it is a year of learning,” said Mrs. McKenna. “There are many successes with this year and there are some things we have learned from this experience that will lead us to some changes for next year.”

The Freshmen Academy will remain in operation for the 2016-2017 school year and future years at Holyoke High. Here’s to the class of 2020!