Finding opportunities in summer school

While some Santa Fe high school students use summer school to recover credits, others participate so they can graduate early. New Mexican file photos by Luis Sánchez Saturno

“I fell behind, and I just felt like I wouldn’t be able to catch up in time. … A month after I dropped out, I got pregnant,” said Angelica Apodaca.

Apodaca missed too much class to graduate in May with the rest of her class at Capital High School. But summer school offers her and many other students a chance to catch up — or in some cases, get ahead. Apodaca is now on track to earn her final credits and graduate in July.

This summer, both Capital High School and Santa Fe High School are hosting summer school on Capital High’s campus, in separate wings organized by the different schools. Both schools use the E2020 as the mode to teach the curriculum — an online program that covers the same material that would be covered in a classroom during the school year, but on the computer with each student working independently.

According to Chris Beaumet, an information technology field technician for Santa Fe Public Schools, “E2020 is a web-based credit-recovery course that is designed to allow students to be tested on their competency of state-required curriculum and recover missed credits in order to graduate high school.”

According to research in the After America 3PM Special Report on Summer, 75 percent of America’s students do not participate in summer learning programs. Yet, based on parents’ interest in having their kids attend a summer learning program, 56 percent of those not taking summer classes would likely enroll, according to the same research.

While summer school can help a student who received an F in freshman biology earn credit for the course, not all students in sum-mer school are there for credit recovery.

Santa Fe High School Principal Carl Marano said summer school also can help students who want to get ahead or graduate early. Currently, he said, Santa Fe High has 10 to 15 students who are working ahead to graduate early. At Capital, that number is roughly one or two, said Jaime Holladay, assistant principal at Capital High.

“I like to go past my limits and do my best,” said Capital High summer school student America Melendez, who will be a senior this fall. “This summer I am taking financial math because I want to get it out of the way for my senior year. Summer school is helping me get through my math credits.”

Although Melendez said summer school might not be for everyone — “some people get tired of staring at a computer screen for seven hours” and others might not understand the directions — she said she finds the “videos are helpful and the questions are easy to understand.”

Holladay said one’s success in summer school versus during the regular school year really depends on the student and their learning preference.

“Our teachers, during summer school, are coaching the kids and they are motivating them, so they are making the connections,” she said, adding that the teachers celebrate their students’ successes and help guide them through any struggles or obstacles. “I think there is still the interaction between teacher and student. … There is not very much student-to-student interaction.”

In this way, Apodaca said summer can be another chance to be successful outside of a traditional class and classroom structure.

“[Summer school] has given me more time to work on my missing classes. And with the program that they use, I can do it at home and here,” she said, adding this is easier to manage with a 7-month-old daughter.

“It gives me a chance to tell my daughter when she is older that she can do anything she sets her mind to,” Apodaca added. “She’ll be there along with my husband and other family in July.”

Santa Fe Public Schools’ summer school ends July 19, and graduation will be held July 21.

Elizabeth Walker is a 2019 graduate of Capital High School. Contact her at bethwalker110@gmail.com.