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Lincoln continuing in education

Shuttered elementary now home to H.S. program with pre-school ready to start

When Ashland High School senior Brandon Clover’s grades started to slouch, and he lost interest in school, he was on the verge of dropping out.

He didn’t find anything in the normal high school curriculum that interested him and didn’t have any serious plans for the future. Then, someone in the administration at the high school offered another alternative. After an intake meeting with his parents and administrators, Clover was enrolled in high school continuation classes with AHS teachers Lloyd Lasley and Todd Hobein. Instead of battling through the standard curriculum, Clover found his own niche in the alternative course of study for students who are either behind in credits or don’t learn well in the regular system.

Clover is one of about 40 students who are studying in the continuation program or practicing to take the GED test to achieve the equivalent of a diploma. He said the one-on-one time he gets four hours an evening Monday through Thursday changed his attitude about school and convinced him not to drop out.

“These guys kicked me in the butt when I needed it,” Clover said of his continuation teachers.

Now he is preparing to earn a diploma in June and wants to become a firefighter. Colver’s older brother also went through the program before going to fight in Iraq. Lasley and Hobein consider them both classic success stories.

Lincoln stays alive

— — Brandon Clover, a senior in the Ashland High School alternative education program, gets help from classmate Shandi Barlas in organizing folders from 48 hours worth of his course work into a senior folder which will count towards his graduation.

For Lasley, teaching students who otherwise would have dropped out of high school in a building that was closed last summer due to declining enrollment provides a glimmer of hope for a school district that is making its way through hard times.

“It’s been hard for the community with declining enrollment,” Lasley said. “There’s a lot of concern in the community over how we’re handling our kids.”

Despite initial gloomy outlooks for some students, Lasley and Hobein said success has been a frequently used term in their continuation classes. Hobein said the classes only have a 3.5 percent dropout rate, and the general contentment of the students comes from a feeling of openness and safety that they can say whatever they want without feeling like they will be judged for it.

“Ultimately we want them to learn the information no matter how long it takes,” Hobein said.

While the continuation program may not be new to the high school, teaching it at Lincoln is. After five years in a dark room with one window at the high school, Lasley said the more open upstairs of Lincoln provides natural light and air that students need. The classes moved in at the end of March, after spring break.

“We’re trying to provide a holistic experience for these kids,” Lasley said.

While the bottom floors of Lincoln are quiet without students in the classrooms, the two rooms filled with high school students provide the image of an independent study hall, not a shut-down elementary. Students at the continuation school build a portfolio of all the work they accomplish during their studies with Hobein and Lasley, and their teachers said this sense of visualizing what work they have creates satisfaction for the students. Before completion, each continuation student must present his or her portfolio and defend it as a final work.

“You can see it in their eyes,” Hobein said. “They own it.”

More kids coming

When this year’s seniors graduate from the continuation school, Lincoln will see a crop of even younger students coming in.

Children’s World Montessori pre-school signed a lease a few weeks ago to use four downstairs classrooms at Lincoln starting next fall. Marci Behringer, co-director of Children’s World Montessori, said she may be able to have up to 80 children in the school. The pre-school decided to lease the space from the Ashland School District when the Methodist Church on North Main Street where it was holding class was set to be rebuilt because the building was falling apart.

Behringer said the school will host work parties May 26 and 27 from 9 a.m. to — p.m. at Lincoln. She said the purpose will be to prepare the old garden at Lincoln to prepare to plant new vegetation. Children’s World Montessori will also host summer camps with a garden-based curriculum from July 24 to . 4. For more information about Children’s World Montessori, call 488-9313.

Staff writer Alan Panebaker can be reached at 482-3456 x 227 or apanebaker@dailytidings.com.

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