Summer camp beckons failing students

A two-week camp to help prepare struggling eighth-graders for high school will be held this summer in the Medford School District for the first time in six years.

Eighth-graders who fail math or English in either the third or fourth quarter will be required to attend the summer camp, set for Aug. 4-15.

Teachers from North Medford and South Medford high schools' freshman academies will teach the students study skills, note-taking techniques, test-taking strategies and the writing rubric. They also will introduce them to the rules and workings of each high school.

"This is a practice many high schools in the nation have adopted as a way to give students a leg up who otherwise would be behind the curve," said Hal Jones, South Medford assistant principal. "It connects students to adults at the high school, their names and faces as well as gives them a head start in what to do."

A nearly $6,000 donation from Fred Meyer Stores' Support Our Schools campaign helped pay for part of the summer camp program. In all, the program will cost $17,000. The district also will apply to the Medford Schools Foundation for a grant and use professional development and high school improvement funds from the state to pay for the program.

The Support Our Schools campaign lasts for nine weeks between July and September during which Fred Meyer's vendor partners donate a dollar for each of their items purchased. Fred Meyer then matches that amount.

A similar summer camp called Continuation School was held in 2002 in the Medford district, but funding for it ended during subsequent budget cuts. The district did not track participants' performance in high school after the camp. However, teachers who participated in the event reported positive results, Jones said.

The summer camp will last for four hours each day for 10 days at Hedrick and South Medford.

Teachers involved in the summer camp will meet Thursday to discuss details of the curriculum.

"This isn't about remedial things," said Jill Schroeder, South Medford English teacher and lead teacher for the summer camp. "We are hoping to give the students a leg up on finding success from the beginning of high school by being organized and knowing what to do, skills that they might not have."

Eighty-two students at Hedrick Middle School and 88 at McLoughlin Middle School had Fs in either math or English in the second quarter, school principals said. They said they expect similar numbers in the third and fourth quarters, qualifying them for the summer camp.

"Some of these students may have the knowledge base, but the skills they need to pass the class are lacking," said Hedrick Principal Paul Cataldo. "That's why we see what the high schools are doing as so encouraging."

Some of the students who fail math and English might even meet or exceed academic standards in those subjects on the annual state assessment.

"Grades are a combination of ability and work ethic," said McLoughlin Principal Amy Tiger. "We are trying to establish positive work patterns. We want the students going into high school with good study habits and a good work ethic."

The middle schools also take steps to help students who are falling behind by enrolling them in double sections of math or English.

High school staff members will visit the middle schools March 4 to let students know about the camp and who will be required to attend. Information also will be sent home to parents.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

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