7th Graders Begin at Central Academy With a Prep Rally
Minutes before Wednesday morning’s “Prep Rally” in the multipurpose room at Central Campus, Prep Academy Advisor Denis Hildreth talked about a one-on-one meeting scheduled later in the day, the kind the rally is designed to minimize.
“There’s a girl who’s thinking maybe it’s not worth it. Maybe it’s too much and she ought to just settle in at her home middle school,” he explained. “It’s about that time. The start-of-the-year honeymoon is about over.”
The Prep Academy consists of 100 7th graders from around the district, 10 from each middle school, who spend part of their day at Central Academy. It’s a challenge. But it’s also an opportunity. Slots in the PA are invitational, based on faculty recommendations, standardized test scores and prior achievements.
“Most of these kids have been very successful without much effort, frankly,” Hildreth said. “Suddenly they’re not always the smartest kid in class and the workload piles up. This rally and other events we do during the year are designed to convince students that you can learn and grow through failure. Perfection is not the objective, effort is.”
There were mingling games that forced students from different schools to group and collaborate on solving hieroglyphic puzzles themed around the notion that dreams rarely come easy but they can come true – with a lot of perseverance. But probably more influential on the 7th graders was the procession of Prep Academy alums who stood at the front of the room to encourage them to tough it out.
In almost unanimous responses to questions from Hildreth the high school upperclassmen reported failure on at least one quiz or test along the way. Yes, they agreed, the homework at first was too much. And many of them were teased for being “too smart.” But all of them are still there. And all of them are glad they are. Hang in there, they advised. Besides the academic perks, “the bathrooms at Central are really nice, too,” said a high school junior.
Central Academy Director Jessica Gogerty opened her remarks by exhorting the group to give her a P, an R, an E and another P. You know they knew what that spells.
Then the group went on a tour of all that awaits them in high school after Hildreth floated the idea of getting together later in the year for a picnic. The response to that was enthusiastic. Hey, if the academic workload’s not one you just have to make your own.
What about the girl who’s on the fence?
Wednesday afternoon Hildreth went to meet with her at Hiatt, her home middle school.
“She’s decided to stay in Prep Academy,” he reported. “She said she changed her mind because of the Prep Rally…she just didn’t know that everybody would find it hard…not just her. Good news, but motivational rallies only work for so long. We’ll need to keep her on our radar.”
Peer pressure’s not always a bad thing.