Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Renaissance Adds to Achievement at Andrew Jackson; Program Is Seeking Adult Volunteers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Renaissance Adds to Achievement at Andrew Jackson; Program Is Seeking Adult Volunteers

Article excerpt

Byline: LINDA McDONALD

Renaissance refers to renewal and rebirth, especially related to art, literature and learning. A core group of students and faculty members have created that kind of Renaissance at Andrew Jackson High School on the Northside.

Developed by Jostens, a company known for class rings and caps and gowns, Renaissance is a national program tailored to meet the specific needs of each school. It was the Jostens representative who suggested the program to Andrew Jackson's administration.

"Making it Happen" was the theme at this year's Renaissance national conference in Orlando last month. Ten Andrew Jackson students attended, along with Margaret Williams, director of student activities, and a faculty member. They learned new ideas from breakout sessions and from networking with other schools, said Nicholas Cantrell and Corella Bryant, both Andrew Jackson seniors who live on the Westside.

"The breakouts were really informative," said Cantrell. "I really liked the technical ideas, like using Power Point for presentations to students."

Cantrell, Bryant and five other students were invited to be on the first Renaissance Student Team in the fall of 2003. This year, 40 students, who now must apply to be on the team, will make it happen at Andrew Jackson.

Renaissance recognizes students, faculty and staff members for successful academic performance. It works to raise student achievement and teacher enthusiasm, and boost community participation in schools. Every nine weeks, three levels of cards are awarded to students based on GPA, conduct and attendance criteria.

With the cards come public acknowledgement, T-shirts and special perks like doughnuts, movies, a free tardy pass or a five-minute early dismissal from school. During the yearly block party for card-holding students, the rest of the student body can only listen to it from classrooms.

It all works to motivate students. Lines snake down the hall when the cards are distributed, and students call to each other and their teachers about the color card they got, bronze, silver or gold.

It has also helped improve the school's overall FCAT grade from an F in 2002 to a C the next year. …

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