Most students at Silverton High School have no problem attending school every day. But for a small subset of kids, life sometimes presents challenges that make coming to school difficult.
To help these kids overcome potential barriers, the school has launched a new attendance initiative and created a Student Success Advocate position staffed by Esmeralda Meraz.
“We can have the greatest teachers and the best technology in the world, but if students are not showing up, it won’t make a difference,” Meraz explained. “To be successful in school and to graduate you have to show up.”
Meraz, along with Assistant Principal Jodi Drescher, Alternative Education Teacher Helen Thomas, and Attendance Secretary Julie Brown identified 125 incoming freshmen at risk for poor attendance. Meraz had face-to-face meetings with each student and their family before the school year started. She will be monitoring these students throughout the year and working with their families to ensure each student’s success.
“I wanted them to know that we are here for them. My door is always open and we can discuss any issues preventing them from attending school,” Meraz said. “If they do miss, we will help them set up a plan to catch up and not feel overwhelmed by being behind.”
This subset of students also received notes of encouragement with tootsie rolls or fruit roll ups attached if they had a 95 percent or higher attendance rate two weeks into school.
Each month, the entire school will participate in a grade level competition to see which grade has the best attendance rate. Everyone who has above a 95 percent attendance rate at the six-week grading period receives a Frothy Fox gift card.
“Research has shown us that regular, punctual school attendance is vital for our students to experience academic success,” said Meraz. “Students who miss only a few days a month are at a greater risk of academic failure and dropping out than students who attend regularly. We want our students here, we want them to be successful and we want them to graduate.”