Thu, Mar

Never let it be said that Mountain View Preparatory is a dull school.

Last week, students were greeted back to school after Christmas break by running a cheerful gauntlet of teachers and staff. To close out the week, students earned the right to see their teachers — and possibly their principal — get pied in the face.

Yavapai College is establishing a committee of residents from the Verde Valley to advise the college’s governing board.Students at Yavapai College study in the Verde Valley Campus’ library. Local towns are submitting candidates for the new Yavapai College Advisory Committee. Clarkdale has nominated Bill Regner and Ruth Wicks.

The move comes after complaints from some that the college wasn’t getting enough input from the Verde Valley.

Yavapai College alumna Diane Lovett and 16 Yavapai College students from the Verde Valley and Sedona campuses were honored at the college’s annual recognition event April 22 at the college campus in Clarkdale.Fifteen students received awards for their academic excellence, including Ashley Williams, Outstanding Student in English, whose award was presented by Terence Pratt, a Yavapai College English professor and Cottonwood city councilman.

The digital filmmaking class at Mingus Union High School has ramped things up over the past couple of years.Mingus Union High School’s Digital Filmmaking program recently had several of its students place in a MATForce video contest. First place winners are, front row from left, Bailey Stork, Nolan Powell, Eric Wilson and Nicholas Adams. Second place winners are Xavier Gonzales, Bradley Priser, Cameron Bloniarz, Nicholas Contreras and Zach Kline, back row from left.

To prove that investing in expanding the class has paid off, students in the program recently swept a video contest held by MATForce, a regional organization that works to combat substance abuse in Yavapai County.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal visited Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood for a question-and-answer town hall on the evening of Tuesday, March 4, the second of two Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal visited Cottonwood on Mar 4 to talk about the state of education in Arizona. Set up as a town hall, the second of two Q&As took place in Mingus Union High School’s cafeteria, following Monday’s Prescott meeting. The cafeteria was filled with teachers, administrators, parents and even students, who were commended for giving up a night and participating in the discussion.such gatherings in Yavapai County.

Keeping kids in school is the goal of parents, schools and teachers, yet in some cases that goal is difficult to achieve.

The problem with dropouts is something all schools have to deal with, so Mingus Union High School came up with a plan to create a new position to help retain students.

Anita Glazar is the student intervention coordinator for Mingus. Her focus is on freshmen who may be struggling academically, the ones who are most vulnerable to dropping out.

“So many come into high school feeling lost. This is a big school, a big change for them — academically and socially. There’s a lot more responsibility once they hit high school,” Glazar said.

Some of the incoming freshmen have not yet learned that they need to attend school, and they need to hand in work, she said.

The premise is that freshman year is the most important year, dependent upon whether the student has success or not.

“When you look at dropout statistics, we found most often the students who dropped out did not have success as freshmen,” Interim Superintendent Nancy Alexander said.

Glazar said creating her position was the idea of Alexander after Alexander talked with staff members as to what was the best use of the casino money Mingus receives every year.

“Nancy [Alexander] felt there was a gap from students who started as freshmen to the time they reached their senior year,” Glazar said.

The job she is doing is not completely new for Glazar. From 1994 through 1998 she was the At-Risk program coordinator with Shelley Kitchen. The dropout rate at Mingus was 13 percent for school year 1994-95. The following year it dropped to 6.6 percent and stayed between 3.5 percent and 6.2 percent since. The average dropout rate for Mingus for the past 10 years, including 2007-08, is 4.68 percent.

Freshmen were chosen in part because they are still at a young enough age to affect a change, Glazar said.

“They want to be noticed. They need a connection, and my job is to get that connection,” she said. “There’s always a story behind what’s happening with a student who’s failing. We have to find out what it is and work with it.”

One way Glazar plans to do that is through conferences, not only with the student but with their parents and teachers. She is trying to get every parent in for a conference.

“I want to get everyone together related to the student — parents, teachers, counselors — to work for the student’s progress and success with the student being the focal point,” Glazar said, while recognizing that people are busy.

Mingus also has a lot of support programs such as tutoring, but Glazar said many people don’t know about them. A new program is called Title I Math. Mingus will take specifically chosen students to Yavapai College for a workshop.

“We’re trying to customize this program for students who haven’t experienced success for whatever reason and turn that around,” Glazar said.

Another part of her job is retrieval and finding out why a student would leave his or her community school.

Once the position of student intervention coordinator was created, the focus of the position’s attention was decided.

“The staff and I thought the group we needed to focus on was freshmen. If they’re successful in their freshman year, the likelihood of them continuing to graduation increases,” Alexander said.

The school cannot do it all, but Alexander said any positive effect that can be realized is worth the effort.

“This is to help get the students off on the right foot,” she said.

Working with freshmen on retention is good for Mingus because it keeps the students in class, and hopefully, on to graduation.

“For me personally, every student should have a good experience in their high school years and graduate from their hometown school. People don’t go to their college reunions, but they do their high school reunions, so we know something amazing happens here,” Glazar said.

Lu Stitt can be reached at 634-8551 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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