Seventh and eighth grade scholars across the Crescent City Schools network spent the past month visiting local high schools. As they prepare to make their selection, scholars across the network have visited over 20 schools including: St. Augustine High School, Edna Karr, Sci High, and De La Salle High School.
Each school in the Crescent City Schools network has a Transition Coordinator, who works with scholars and their families before and during the high school application process. The Transition Coordinator schedules high school visits, provides assistance with the application process, and is available for any additional questions scholars or their families may have.
Jessica Mitchell serves as the School Counselor and High School Transition Coordinator for seventh and eighth grade scholars at Paul Habans Charter School. When asked about the importance of including seventh grade students in these visits, Mitchell emphasized the need for students to begin thinking early on about the next step in their academic career.
“I want them to understand that they need to prepare themselves early in the year for this decision,” she said. “I purposefully arranged at least one private school and one public school visit for each student, so they can see the differences and similarities between the two.”
Most high schools offer two types of visits, school tours and shadow days. On a school tour, scholars are given a student-led tour and have the opportunity to ask questions. Prospective students are also able to observe classes in session and see what kind of technology is available to high school students. A shadow day will pair visiting seventh and eighth grade students with a current high school student for an entire school day, which allows visiting scholars to immerse themselves more fully in the school environment.
“I think it is vital that students find a school that is a good fit for them,” Mitchell said. “I believe the biggest takeaway for our scholars is that they are better equipped to choose a school that fits their personality and their overall interest.”
Angelo Cross, Director of Family and Community at Harriet Tubman Charter School, believes that the strong culture scholars have developed at Tubman has strongly influenced what they look for in a high school.
“I think Benjamin Franklin High School, Lusher Charter School, and Metairie Park Country Day School have been the biggest draws for our scholars,” he said. “These schools foster an amazing educational environment. There is a strong culture of achievement at these institutions, and each has a unique personality.”
Cross also values the relationship between current Tubman scholars and alumni. “If Tubman has alumni attending the school we are visiting, I like to have those students give the tour,” he said. “ It is a good opportunity for our scholars to have an open discussion about high school when they are with their former peers.”
High school visits help empower students to play an active role in determining where they attend high school and provide students with a glimpse into their future. Many scholars return from these trips with renewed focus, intent on improving habits that are going to prepare them to be successful in the high school.
And while the focus of these visits is on future possibilities, Cross emphasized that students’ excitement about high school impacts their present studies. “Once we get them dreaming and goal setting, we can help them in the classroom to accomplish that goal,” he said.