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Thursday, Dec 4, 2014

Hudson students make progress - Article in The Columbia Paper

Published by The Columbia Paper, December 4, 2014, by JEANETTE WOLFBERG

HUDSON - An update on the Bridge Academy alternate high school and the location of future meetings highlighted the Hudson City School district Board of Education's meeting Monday, November 24.

The Bridge, formally the Columbia-Greene Partnership Academy-has been educating about 45 high school students in Hudson since February. Most of its students are in an Alternate Transition Program (ATP), which took in general education 16 and 17-year-olds who had fallen behind in the number of credits expected for graduation-bound students their age. ATP students come from both Hudson and Catskill high schools. The Bridge also serves a group of special education students. Its staff comes from the Berkshire Union Free School District.

Bridge student John Irwin, Berkshire Union Superintendent Bruce Potter and Bridge staff member Dan Kalbfiiesh reported on the performance of the Academy, which is now in its fourth quarter of operation. In the 2013-2014 academic year, the ATP students spent the first semester in their home high school-Hudson or Catskill-and the second semester at the Bridge. According to the presentation, the first semester ended with only 28% of the students passing their courses. But by the end of the second semester, 58% passed . Of the 2013-2014 ATP students, 82% continued in the Bridge for the 2014-2015 academic year. Of these, on the day the first quarter ended this fall, 54% were passing their courses. But now, a few weeks later, 62% have passed first-quarter material.

In addition, during the first semester last year, in their home schools, these students had an attendance rate of 78% and accumulated 128 suspensions. In the second semester, at the Bridge, they had an attendance rate of 75% and accumulated 98 suspensions.

"We built the Bridge to the kids we weren't reaching ," said Mr. Potter. "Education isn't one size fits all."

"High school is a social hub," observed Mr. Kalbfliesh. "We've had students who go to school but not class. In the Bridge, the only place to go is class." There is no room where students can hang out and socialize without going to class.

Student John Irwin told the meeting, "Before I came to the Bridge, I was not a successful student. Almost the only time I went to class was when a hall monitor dragged me in. But then I tried the Bridge, and I loved it. What got me is that they seemed to care about you . They're willing to sit with you , with your math problems, even reading to you, for however long it takes, to help you pass a subject. Before I came to the Bridge, I felt I didn't have the tools to be great. Now I do."

In addition to academic and job preparation, the Bridge students participate in community services. These include putting up flags at the Firemen's Home on Memorial Day, painting walls with cancer awareness murals, and selling food for fund raisers.

Starting next semester, Mr. Kalbfliesh will become the principal at the Bridge, the third person to hold that position. Rick Shea, currently a Bridge's social studies teacher, will become its coordinator of work-based learning.

Through the end of the academic year, the Bridge will stay at its current location at the corner of 4th and Warren streets in Hudson's business district. But it is committed to moving three blocks away, to 11 Warren Street, until recently a building owned by Coarc building between Front and First streets. There Mr. Potter envisions "11,000 square feet of state-of-the-art building," including two things the current site lacks-a gymnasium and cafeteria.

With the additional space, the school is also considering adding programs. One under consideration, though still not official, would take in 9th graders judged to be "bright but at risk." In conjunction with Bard College they would complete the program four years later with both a Regents diploma and an associate degree.

NOTE: The remainder of the article dealt with other schools and other issues.

Read the entire article on The Columbia Paper's website.

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