2017-08-11 / Front Page

Gaffney High program gives students a ‘bridge’ to success

Ledger Staff Writer

Several Gaffney High freshmen hit the books at their new school this week through a summer bridge program that gives them tools for academic success.

Cherokee County teachers and residents met with 23 incoming ninth grade students Aug. 7-10 for a summer bridge program. Topics covered include study and organizational skills, conflict resolution, positive decision-making and social skills.

Started in 2015, the bridge program is a joint mission of Gaffney High and KNOW(2). It was developed by Gaffney High graduation coach Daniel Foster after he attended a national at-risk youth forum in Myrtle Beach.

Unlike middle school, every high school grade counts towards graduation and college entry. Foster said he hopes the bridge program will help students make a successful transition from middle school to high school.

“We know ninth grade is a critical year,” Foster said. “Research has shown once a student is a ninth grade repeater that there is a greater likelihood that they could become a high school dropout. We want all students to graduate from high school.”

Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller, county recreation director Marcus Bradley, Brodrick Littlejohn and Terrance Smith spoke with students during this week’s bridge program.

Smith, whose son graduated Gaffney High in 2014, still remembers experiencing culture shock when he left college early to go to work. He now volunteers regularly at Gaffney High when he has time off from his job in the Freightliner logistics department.

“I worked 10 hours a day on the line at Freightliner when I came home from college,” Smith said. “It was hard work, but it gave me an appreciation of the value of an education. I enjoy coming back to Gaffney High so I can help students be successful.”

Volunteers helping with the program are Gaffney Middle behavior interventionist Shaun Corry, Gaffney High English teachers Jan Tuthill and Ruchi Dadheech, Gaffney High science teachers Farrah Bauman, Gaffney High history teachers Dr. Frank Wilson and Chris Hardy. Knuckles Chapel’s Pastor Rev. Kerwin Wray and Alvin Smith also worked with the students.

“We took some time Thursday to tour the building and help students navigate the high school,” Foster said. “Our goal is to help ease students transition to high school and put them on the right path towards success.”

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