Nearly eight years ago, the team at Silverton High School made a change to the daily class schedule. The goal was to provide students with a place to fulfill new career-related Oregon graduation requirements. What came about was a 30-minute Advisory Group (AG) class four days each week between 3rd and 4th period. Perhaps more importantly, AG provides a sense of family and community, as students stay together from freshman to senior year under the guidance of the same teacher whenever possible.
“I’m proud to take care of the same group of kids all four years,” said Darren Houts, a math and construction/wood engineering teacher at SHS. “It allows me to work one-on-one with students to help them be successful.”
According to SHS Principal Mark Hannan, AGs are making a difference and having a positive impact on graduation rates, which were at 85% last year.
SHS teacher Steve Taray knew that AGs were a good idea, but he didn’t anticipate such strong peer and student/teacher connections.
“When you’re together with the same group of students for four years, you become like a little family. You get to know and guide them and they build relationships and have honest conversations,” said Taray. “I love them. They are the best.”
Taray’s students had a few things to say about AG as well.
“Mr.Taray has a good sense of humor and fairness. He knows how to keep order while having fun. All of the students in our AG get along, which keeps us happy,” said freshman Katelyn Jackson.
“I love my AG because everyone treats me like family,” added freshman Melissa Mattison who is also a member of Taray’s AG class.
AG has become a powerful tool for the students and faculty of Silverton High School, one that contributes to the ongoing success of the school as a place to learn both academic skills, as well as to build meaningful and long-lasting interpersonal relationships.