DENVER — The new school year is officially underway in Denver. Students and teachers at Manual High School were back in the classrooms Monday.
The movie was titled “39 Steps” at Manual High School and students and teachers will be living 39 extra days as they continue to cut down the learning gap.
“Our young people are embracing the longer school days—one extra hour each day—and the extended school year which now begins the second week in July,” said Brian Dale, Principal.
Manual students will be in a ‘learn it, live it’ mode for this school year, as they will gain knowledge from people in the community who will come into classes throughout the year, giving them everyday learning that they can use. Every 11 weeks they will go on ‘super field-trips’ that begin Tuesday with four days on the CSU campus in Fort Collins.
“The kids will live and eat in the dorms, they will also attend classroom sessions designed to let them see what college life is all about,” said Asst. Principal Vernon Jones.
All of the students seem to be excited about the new method of learning which includes both in and outside of the classroom instruction.
“We are so glad Manual is taking steps to give us the best opportunity to learn,” said Ariana Rodriguez. “We can’t wait to go on the trips to places like CSU and local businesses where we might work one day.”
Research has found extended days and hours in class all help in the learning process. In fact, overseas it’s not uncommon for students to go to school longer hours than in this country. For U.S. students to catch up, it will take greater effort to close the gap in education.
Other school districts are watching to see how the longer days and year will go, but Manual educators are sure they can reduce the learning gap to eight years if everyone buys into the longer in-class format.
When the Manual’s attempt at a three-tiered academy failed, the school closed.
When it reopened in 2006, only 9th graders attended the school. Other grade levels were added each year.
The first class posted an 85 percent graduation rate, last year’s class jumped to 90 percent and all of the students were accepted to a college or university.
The school’s foundation of sorts also raised $500,000 for the first graduating class, and last year more than $1 million in scholarship money was raised.
For many of the Black and Hispanic youngsters this week’s trip will be the first time they have ever been on a college campus. For some, they will be the first in their families to ever be on campus, so these outings are designed to give them the crucial experience they need to continue their educations.
“We are also giving the teachers more money for working a longer year,” said Jones. “For their dedication and losing more than a month of vacation, we feel it is the right thing to do.”
A promotional video on YouTube showcases the progress Manual High School has made.