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'Getting them to pass'

A lecture on Nazi Germany, an autobiographical novel about a young Jewish boy's experience during the Holocaust, a formal letter to author Elie Weisel and a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

The lessons in the Team Integration of English and Social Science class at Crater High School shift subjects constantly, so much so that students say they sometimes don't know which subject is at hand.

I'm not an English person, so putting English in social science, you don't really notice it's there, said sophomore Breyanna Reed.

The voluntary program was developed more than three years ago by English teacher Crissy Christian and history teacher Bud LeFever to combat the high rate at which freshmen flunk classes.

— The freshmen were failing right and left, Christian said. There were programs in place for juniors and seniors. We thought the freshmen needed something.

The classes interconnect English and social science in a three-hour class period every other day for two years.

If you keep students for more than one year you have a better chance of getting them to pass, Christian said.

The same two teachers guide students through their freshman and sophomore years, teaching collaboratively and getting to know their pupils individually.

At the end of the semester, students receive the same grade for English and history on their report card.

In a regular class, you typically spend a month explaining policies and procedures, said teacher Karilu James. You have to get to know the students. In the sophomore year in this program, you don't have to do that. You start learning immediately.

In the sophomore class, the number of failing grades has decreased tenfold since the beginning of the students' freshman year, Christian said.

About 300 students are involved in the program, 120 of whom are sophomores.

Students say the program has fostered closer relationships with their teachers, prompted studious behavior and added relevancy to classes that previously failed to spark their interest.

They were the first teachers who showed they really cared, said sophomore Emily Chubb. They're willing to sit down with you, listen to your problems and help.

For Emily, the attention has meant the transformation of her grades from D's and F's to A's, B's and C's in all of her classes, including those outside the program.

For some students, the program also has presented them with their first opportunity for travel.

Sophomores who pass all of their classes during the two-year period may go on a field trip to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City to tour cultural and historical sites.

This is the third year students in the program have made the journey. About 70 students are slated to go to the East Coast from May 4-13.

The field trip costs &

36;1,500 per student. Many students' families cannot afford that amount, so teachers and students organize fundraisers, such as one planned for Thursday. Teachers also encourage students to do independent fund-raising.

Sophomore Beau Bowman said he took two jobs to raise money for the trip. The travels will be his first east of Idaho.

I want to see the Statue of Liberty, Beau said. You see it on TV, but I think it will definitely have more of an impact if you are standing where immigrants stood. It was the first thing they saw when they came over.

In addition to providing an incentive for passing their classes, the trip adds meaning to American history lessons.

Kristen Tyska, a senior who went on the trip two years ago, said she remembers finding the name of a Crater High School graduate who died in the Vietnam War on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

I looked at it for five minutes, Kristen said. It was amazing.

Fashion show, raffle aid East Coast trip

Crater High School students will hold a fashion show, dessert and raffle at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 in the student center at Crater High School, 4410 N. Rogue Valley Blvd., Central Point.

Proceeds go to the TIESS field trip to the East Coast. Tickets are &

36;5 each. Raffle prizes include a full hog, cut and wrapped; a steelhead fishing trip; &

36;350 in cash; and 100 other items. The fashion show includes 25 garments from La Boheme in Jacksonville.

For details, call teacher Bud LeFever at 494-6300.-Getting them to pass?"pachen@mailtribune.com.

Crater High School history teacher Bud LeFever, left, jokes with student Christina Taylor, 18, during the school?s integrated English/Social Science class on Friday. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven