Making a permanent impression since 1994
December 6, 2004
Terryville High classes shedding students
By Stefan Koski
Something is amiss at
Its classes run like clockwork, its teachers are on time
and grades are promptly distributed.
But why are its classes shrinking?
Although it may not be obvious at first, the number of
students who start freshman year and the number of students who show up for
graduation differ greatly.
Some, including the class of 2004, lose as much as 30
percent of their students. Other classes typically lose between 12 and 16
percent of their students during the four years of high school.
Where are all of these kids going?
The numbers tell an interesting story.
The Terryville High School Statistics for Disenrollment
show that out of the 124 students who left school between 2001 to 2004, 41
percent are moving, either out-of-town or out-of-state.
Another 23 percent transferred to a different school,
But the most noteworthy of the statistics is the third
category — the 21 percent who drop out completely. The national average is
10.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Terryville High School Principal Andrea Lavery said she
believes that kids who are quitting school have any combination of family issues
at home, a lack of motivation or support, discipline problems that have never
been addressed or a general lack of success that has plagued them throughout
their academic careers.
“You rarely find an A-B student that goes to failing,”
Lavery said there are several reasons kids drop out.
“There are some that don’t fit into a traditional high
school, but there aren’t any alternative schools,” Lavery said.
She said that Terryville’s small size and even smaller
budget don’t offer many options for students who are on the verge of dropping
A staff meeting handout entitled “Strategies and Programs
Implemented to Address THS Drop-out Rate” noted that the Tunxis alternative
high school and the Phoenix Program, both of which aided the “struggling” or
“non-traditional student,” have been discontinued recently.
A number of new ideas have been introduced to try to stem
the exodus of non-traditional students.
“What we’re really trying to do is get to students
during their freshman year,” Lavery
said, explaining how a new mentor program at
“We really want ninth grade kids to understand that
homework, participation and attendance are really important in being successful
in high school,” Lavery said.
The mentor program has had some success.
While last year’s freshman class had 75 students (43
percent of the class) failing one or more subjects, this year’s freshman class
only had 26 failing (17 percent).
The school has tried other tactics, such as Saturday
detentions and a freshman parents’ night hosted by the guidance department, to
reduce the number of students who might drop out.
Lavery said other steps are possible.
“We are investigating some kind of summer school here
Even though there are many in-house solutions to the
declining class sizes in Terryville, the problem of not having many outside
Other than the
“The only magnet school that we’ve sent students to is
the Arts and Music Magnet School in Waterbury, but that’s not going to attract
the disenfranchised student,” Lavery said.
Indeed, there seems to be little for the
“disenfranchised” and “disenchanted” students of
But preventing students from dropping out is always going
to be hard.
“Kindergarten teachers always tell me that they can look
at their kindergarten class and can tell who won’t be successful in ninth
grade,” Lavery said.
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