Message from Dr. Spurka - GROWL
Wednesday I had the privilege of taking one of our PTSA leaders on a tour of our GROWL program and giving her a behind-the-scenes look at our new initiative. The program took over a year to plan, and I was excited to show it to our parent who has been instrumental with community relations since we opened six years ago. I couldn't be more proud of our new program. Two weeks ago at Katie Reeves' community meeting, our board member, I received the biggest compliment. One of our neighboring principals announced that his school year was off to a great start and that he was anxious to watch the success of our GROWL program so he could look into incorporating it in his school.
With all the excitement over our program, however, I was reminded at our recent PTSA meeting that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for GROWL or understands the value our program provides for our entire student body and staff. I would like to share an overview of our program and outline the tour on Wednesday which I believe captures the benefits of our program. I have always, and will continue to, value our school's relationship with our community and input is always important. In fact, it was the input of our stakeholders that brought about the initial idea of GROWL.
The following timeline of our second GROWL day highlights the five major components of the program that my guest and I observed:
8:20 a.m. Teacher Collaboration
We started our GROWL tour by visiting the World Language Department where our eleven teachers were discussing ways to incorporate the new on-line resources to better meet the needs of all our students. As we sat in the room, our thoughts were that we hoped other professionals that we rely on like our doctors, dentists, and auto mechanics are collaborating with colleagues to ensure their practices are utilizing the most up-to-date data and strategies. Leaving the World Language department and walking the academic halls, we passed teams of teachers from other departments engaged in similar collaboration to support student learning and achievement.
8:30 a.m. Freshman Seminar
Next, we visited the auditorium where Ms. Premoli began the program by providing her "Ninth Grade Notes" to about 250 freshmen. She updated our students on Homecoming Week, outlined expectations for PAWS that started the next day, and acknowledged our students' positive behavior, reminding them of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The program continued with a presentation from Gigi Whiteside, one of Fulton County's Instructive Technology experts, on multiple ways students can use their personal technology to increase their academic achievement. Ms. Whiteside's presentation is posted to our website so that students may refer back to the various programs available. Parents are encouraged to read through the presentation as they also may find much of the technology useful.
8:45 a.m. Freshman Intramurals
We entered the auxiliary gym and saw twelve students doing step aerobics led by Coach Chambless. It was great seeing our students in step with her and wearing matching GROWL t-shirts. We crossed the hall into the main gym to see our students involved in intramural basketball. It was incredible to watch the level of competition, but most importantly to see our students having fun. One student was particularly excited that he had the privilege of playing basketball on the varsity court. With the pressures on our students to grow up in high school, I really enjoyed seeing them relaxing, exercising, and having fun.
9:00 a.m. Study Hall
All ninth graders had the option to choose an intramural sport or a study hall. When you think of study hall, you might envision students sitting in rows while the teacher keeps her finger on her lips, admonishing students to be quiet. In our study halls, however, it was incredible to see our office staff and counselors providing emotional and social support to our young students in addition to helping them solve algebraic equations. At the same time, students helped one another with homework and collaborated in small groups to work on projects. It was particularly rewarding to hear staff members comment on their own excitement over students' willingness to ask for help and openness to working with others.
9:25 a.m. Flex Time for Upper Classmen
Lastly, we visited the cafeteria and Student Center where about a hundred upper classmen worked independently or in teams to support one another. In addition, we talked with students who just finished their college English class, which meets twice a week. I asked our students where they were going since their next class wasn't until 10:50 a.m. Their responses differed from Chik-fil-a to Starbucks, to I need to run home. One comment in particular struck me as validating the significance of our program. One student responded, "Thank you Dr. Spurka for this program. We feel like we are in college. You are trusting us to make good decisions and how to best balance our time." When our students go to college, one of their biggest learning curves is balancing time with their course schedule. College doesn't run on bells from 8:20 am to 3:30 pm every day.
I do understand that change can be difficult, but we promise that we will continue to serve this community and do what we think is in the best interest of our students, every one of them. GROWL has benefits for students in all grade levels as well as for our entire staff. Should you have any questions about our program feel free to attend my parent coffee on September 15 at 9:00 am or send me an e-mail, and I will be happy to offer you a tour with me during one of our GROWL days. Research continues to show that community engagement is one of the top factors in a school's success, and we could not be one of the top high schools in the southeast without your support.
GROWL Presentation by Ms. Whiteside - Snap&Read and CoWriter Universal
What is GROWL?
GROWL is a unique schedule that addresses several CHS goals:
Support 9th grade students as they transition to high school
Offer more flexibility for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students
Provide teachers more time for collaboration and professional learning
How does GROWL support 9th Grade Students?
On GROWL days, 9th graders will be required to report to school at the regular time. They will attend CLAWS Academy, a series of special programs/speakers designed to support their high school transition. Topics will range from Digital Citizenship to four-year planning to Stress Management. In addition, ninth graders will participate in EITHER an Intramural Sport OR a Study Hall. See times below.
How does GROWL benefit 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade Students?
These students have the option of arriving at school at 10:50 on GROWL days. Working on online classes, studying with classmates, or getting in an exercise session are just some of the ways students may use this time.
When is GROWL?
On eight Wednesdays per semester, Cambridge High School will follow a GROWL Schedule:
8:20 – 10:40
CLAWS Academy for one hour AND
Intramural Sports OR Study Hall for one hour
All 9th Graders
10:50 – 11:30
11:35 – 12:10
3rd Period or Lunch
12:15 – 12:50
4th Period or Lunch
12:55 – 1:30
5th Period or Lunch
1:35 – 2:10
2:15 – 2:50
2:55 – 3:30
NOTE: 2nd period will be held after 5th period in order to accommodate earlier lunch periods.
What are some other important facts about GROWL days?
Buses will run at the regular times. Any student is welcome to take the bus on GROWL days.
10th, 11th, and 12th graders who take the bus to school will be required to remain on campus once they get off the bus and stay in one of several areas, such as the Student Center, until 1st period begins at 10:50.
Move On When Ready (MOWR) program:
Students enrolled in the MOWR program should take the GROWL schedule into account when scheduling their courses.
Students having difficulty reconciling the MOWR program with the GROWL schedule should see Ms. Price for assistance with scheduling.
Both outside experts and internal staff members will conduct CLAWS Academy sessions. It is an extension of our CLAWS orientation program, which will continue to be run by upperclassmen mentors as it has operated in the past. These mentors, however, do NOT have any responsibility for CLAWS Academy.
9th Grade Attendance:
- Attendance at GROWL activities will be mandatory for 9th graders and will affect exam exemptions.
9th Grade Intramural Sports Program and Study Hall:
Every 9th grader will have the option of participating in either an intramural sport or a supervised study hall. They will sign up for these options when school begins in August.
CHS is still determining which sports will be offered in the Intramural program based on feedback from surveys taken at the middle schools.
Study halls will be supervised by CHS staff members who will ensure a quiet, structured atmosphere conducive to studying.
What are some other issues being considered for inclusion on GROWL days?
Because teachers will be collaborating with their colleagues, they will not be available to meet with students; however, consideration is being given to the following possibilities:
Test make-up center
Still Have Questions?
Email Amy Price at email@example.com. if you have additional questions.