Having a student study lounge makes good grades cool at one junior high school, as teens now have a place to check assignments, get help, and spend some quiet study time.
At Mark Twain Junior High School, the success has been notable, with improvement in grades. Principal Mike Berhorst noted that 59 percent of eighth graders have at least a 3.0 grade point average.
“I’m telling you, whenever I hear any talk about Mark Twain with anything but respect, I know you have no idea what’s going on over here,” Berhorst said.
When Berhorst arrived at the west Modesto school five years ago, approximately one third of eighth graders failed to meet graduation requirements, and entered high school below grade level. This year, graduation targets were hit by 85 percent of the students, which is above the district average. 21 graduates wore black cords over their gowns, signifying a 4.0 GPA.
The turnaround has meant that a change of approach coupled with changed attitudes was needed. Students needed recognition for good grades, and the color cords and family awards banquet were instituted. However, it wasn’t enough to recognize students – they needed more support in earning good grades.