By CHARLOTTE SHARPE
The Daily Times of Salisbury
BERLIN, Md. (AP) — A relatively new program at Snow Hill Middle School is keeping students focused and out of the principal’s office.
Young Men United, a group started last year at SHMS, was created to target at-risk students who were spending more time in the front office than in the classroom. In its second year, the program has already expanded and the school’s office referrals have dropped significantly.
“Many of these kids just need someone believing in them,” said teacher Jenifer Heimer.
Aaron Dale, principal at Snow Hill Middle, said the group, an After School Academy offering at SHMS, was created last year because administrators saw a lot of young men being sent to the office repeatedly.
“It was created for at-risk kids, but it’s evolved this year and we’ve expanded,” Dale said.
With Young Men United, boys get together after school to do their homework. When that is done, they spend some time on a character or career-building project, according to Maryanne Cooper, extended day administrator at SHMS. To round out their afternoon, they finish up playing basketball together. This year, they also have the option of playing soccer.
Cooper has seen first-hand the effect the mentoring program has had on the boys.
“This program is amazing,” she said. “It’s helping them to see their future and map their course. It’s giving them structure and the opportunity to connect with adults.”
Members of Young Men United who keep their grade point average up and get no office referrals get to go on field trips throughout the year.
Last year, students were able to tour Salisbury University and watch a college football game. They even had the chance to see a Philadelphia 76ers game, Dale said. The trips give students added motivation to work hard on their assignments.
“They’re now proud of their academics,” Dale said.
Students involved also get to hear from guest speakers such as Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby and Worcester County Jail Warden Garry Mumford.
“We have a lot of support from our community,” Dale said.
Heimer said that last year, with the creation of Young Men United, students’ attendance increased and there was a decrease in tardiness.
Office referrals also decreased. She said 26 of the 50 students involved had no office referrals after Young Men United was started.
“We’re very proud of the program,” Dale said.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)