EL PM helps Auburn students get in step to graduate

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AUBURN — After school was dismissed on a recent Wednesday, Edward Little senior Amy Neely sat in an overstuffed chair to be coached in science.

“The car doesn’t start, that’s the problem,” teacher Holly Cooney said. In science, determining the problem is the first step, she said. “What do you think you would do next?”

“Make a hypothesis,” Neely answered.

“Exactly,” the teacher said.

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As they worked together, other students, some sitting on a couch, others at tables, completed lessons.

Neely was one of a dozen students in Room 101 for EL PM.

Juniors and seniors in the after-school program are there to make up missing credits from classes they failed or didn’t complete. The goal is to help them graduate.

Neely, 17, said she got behind on school work when she put her social life before her education. With graduation only months away, those missing credits are “poking me on the shoulder,” she said.

Neely said she has a lot of credits to make up, but she plans to graduate in June or August and attend college.

EL PM student Caroline Snowe, 17, said she came close to dropping out this year, but a friend told her about the after-school program, she said.

“(It takes) a lot of dedication,” she said, “but it’s a great way to get back credits.”

Snowe said she got behind after becoming stressed from taking honors and advanced placement classes in her sophomore and junior years.

She plans to graduate this year and to study nursing next year.

Some 100 students are in the program, teacher Fred Lidstone said. “It’s an open lab.”

Students can do their work at home or in Room 101. Lidstone and Cooney administer quizzes and tests in the classroom.

“We take the same books and chapters to design something they can do independently,” Lidstone said.

Students don’t repeat entire courses, just the parts they need, he said.

“If they passed first quarter and failed the second, we focus on chapters in the second quarter,” Lidstone said.

The program makes a difference in helping students complete high school, he said. “This year we don’t have the bunch of kids from last year,” he said, because “most graduated.”

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