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11 students enter transitional stage as ninth-graders.

Byline: Sarah L. Hamby

PUTNAM - The parents of 11 students received a letter yesterday notifying them that their children had entered high school conditionally and have been enrolled as transitional Freshman Academy students. Initially, 12 students would have entered the program, but one has since left the district.

The Freshman Academy is a relatively new program at Putman High School, designed to make the move from middle school to high school easier on students. This transitional academy will be specifically for the 11 students who failed to meet eighth-grade academic requirements but were promoted to ninth-grade.

The letter to parents, which came from Principal William J. Barry, explains the requirements of the transitional academy. Students will be required to attain competency in eighth-grade language arts, science and math, must maintain exemplary attendance, must attend after-school tutoring sessions once a week, and are ineligible to participate in athletics and all after-school activities, including school social functions.

Students who excel in the program will be given the opportunity to move into the mainstream Freshman Academy with their peers, while failure to meet the objectives will result in a longer transitional period. Interim Superintendent James Connolly explained, "The ones who don't make goals at the end of the first marking period will be reevaluated at the end of the second marking period."

Later he said, "We made a decision not to send the kids back. ... I mean that would be disastrous. ...We do have standards."

Board member James W. Purdon questioned the board on why this occurred at all, curious as to how eighth-grade students were allowed to move on to high school.

At that point, the board moved to go into an unscheduled executive session and when questioned similarly by the press, Board of Education Chairman Michael Morrill said, "It does involve personnel issues and individual students, which we can't tell you about."

When the board returned to open session, there was virtually no discussion on the topic, though the board did share the letter that was sent to parents.

Mr. Morrill commented about students who "struggled in eighth-grade and ended up in the high school."

When asked again how that occurred, he said, "We're still looking in to that."

The board hopes to release more information at its Sept. 16 meeting.

NAME: PUTNAM BOARD OF EDUCATION
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 4, 2008
Words:385
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