The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 2, 2014

Le Sueur-Henderson partnering with U of M

District has applied to be part of college-readiness program

By Amanda Dyslin

---- — LE SUEUR — Le Sueur-Henderson High School teachers and administration soon will find out if they've been named a 2014-15 Ramp Up to Readiness school.

Developed by the University of Minnesota, Ramp Up to Readiness is a schoolwide guidance program with curriculum aimed at increasing students' knowledge, skills and habits necessary to prepare for college. The five pillars of the program focus on academic, admission, career, financial, and personal and social readiness.

At LSH the curriculum would be taught weekly in homeroom, said Principal Kevin Enerson. The program also includes interactive advisory activities and workshops.

Enerson said the district applied to be a part of the program beginning in the fall, but cohorts include a number of schools that actually implement the program and others that act as the control group. If LSH is a control group this fall, they will be able to implement the program in fall 2015.

The U of M's first cohort was for the 2012-13 school year and is rolling out the curriculum each year to additional schools that apply.

“We've really got our fingers crossed,” Enerson said. “We are really wanting to implement next fall.”

Enerson said the age-specific lessons help students navigate the varied and complex skills they'll need to get ready for life after high school. They learn about topics such as how to get into college, financing their college education and how to manage their stress. They also learn what they need to be doing now as high school students to prepare, Enerson said.

The program is the district's second partnership with University of Minnesota. LSH is involved in a breakfast study with the U of M, too.

“Project breakFAST: Fueling Academics & Strengthening Teens” is an intervention study that aims to increase participation in school breakfast programs and to study students' overall diet quality and body mass index.

Enerson said the district's food service department learned about the study and wanted the district to participate. Enerson said it was a good way to remind students that the meals are available to them and that breakfast is important to overall health and learning.

The school has been promoting the program through posters and other means, and it's implemented a “second-chance breakfast program” with a cart that goes down hallways with food available to students. Students also are allowed in some morning classes to bring in food.

The U of M is also monitoring the health, attendance, grades and body mass index of a group of students at LSH as part of the study.

Before the program, LSH was serving 40 to 50 breakfasts each morning. This year it's up to 80 to 90, Enerson said.

“We've seen a pretty significant increase,” he said.