THS holds report card conferences for ninth, 10th graders

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Having already experienced Thompson High School’s report card conferences as a freshman last year, THS sophomore Ashley Ryan said she has come to expect and look forward to meeting with local community leaders to discuss her grades each nine weeks.

“It’s something I look forward to. They encourage me, and that makes me want to work harder,” Ryan said after meeting with community volunteer Kyle Rakestraw on Oct. 18. “It’s so beneficial when you have that encouragement.”

Ryan was one of about 1,050 THS ninth- and 10th-graders who went through report card conferences on Oct. 18, which was a few days after the school’s students received their grades for the first nine weeks of the semester.

Through the conferences, which are organized by Alabaster City Schools Graduation Coach Marsha Roach, dozens of community members volunteer their time to meet one-on-one with students.

During each mentoring session, the volunteers sit down with the students, review their report cards and provide feedback on ways to improve or continue their academic success. The community volunteers are also able to fill out a form to give to one of the school’s peer helpers if they find a student needs help or counseling in a particular area.

When the next round of report cards come out, the volunteers will meet with the same students again to monitor their progress.

Last year marked the first year the school held report card conferences for all ninth-graders, and the program expanded to include 10th-graders this year. As the current sophomores progress through the school, the program will grow with them, Roach said.

“(THS Principal) Dr. (Wesley) Hester wants to expand it to all grade levels eventually,” Roach said. “This program allows the students to take accountability for what they have done or not done. While students may hear something from their parents all the time, it may mean something more to hear it from someone else.”

Kyle Rakestraw, his wife, Stacy, and local financial analyst George Henry were among the about 50 community volunteers at the school on Oct. 18.

“It gives them a sense that someone is truly interested in them, because we are,” Stacy Rakestraw said.

“If they have a low grade in a particular class, we will talk about what they plan to do to improve it,” Kyle Rakestraw added. “And because we will see them again in nine weeks, they know we will be holding them to it.”