Morton High School holds ribbon cutting for Star Academy - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Morton High School holds ribbon cutting for Star Academy

Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT
Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT
Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT
Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT
Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday. Source: WLBT
MORTON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A pilot program is helping some Mississippi schools take a different approach to dropout prevention. Star Academies are also helping students that have fallen behind.

Morton High School held a ribbon cutting for their academy Friday.

The configuration of the classrooms may look a little different than the normal rows facing a teacher. But that's part of what's helping motivate the students who were otherwise falling behind.

The goal of the Star Academy is to improve graduation rates and have fewer dropouts. That will start with 8th graders who at some point were held back a grade.

"National statistics say, if you're in 8th grade and you don't make it to 9th grade the first time, over 85 percent of you will drop out nationwide," explained Star Academy representative Virginia Robinson.

Eighth graders who are academically behind will enter this program and leave as 10th graders if they meet all requirements.

"This is an opportunity to change their lives forever," said Representative Tom Miles. "And we know Morton High School is going to be an example across the state for others to follow."

In fact, Morton is one of five schools statewide that received a three-year grant to make this Star Academy possible. It won't be in full swing until next school year here at Morton High School. Still, some students have started to find out how a non-traditional classroom can make a difference compared to a usual English or Math class.

"It makes me feel like I'm better at English now," said student Da'Myshza Ragsdale. "It makes me feel excited when I look at my English grade."

"It's hard to pay attention in that class," said student Cole Franklin about traditional English class. "In this class, it's a lot easier to pay attention. I mean I've got ADHD but you go up in this class and you work. But it ain't bad."

Hands-on projects like building and racing cars, for example, help students figure out WHY they're learning formulas in math class and how they can apply the lessons.

"We write the distance and how fast it got to the finish line and stuff," said student Lorodrick Waites.

The hope is the smaller class sizes with individualized attention will improve the focus and motivation and get the students back on track.

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