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Day: July 16, 2014

At-risk students make unexpected gains in transition school

McNary High School teacher and coach Kevin Wise talks with a class of transition school students about planning for the future beyond high school graduation. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary High School teacher and coach Kevin Wise talks with a class of transition school students about planning for the future beyond high school graduation. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Jesus Monrroy had a leg up on his classmates when he started at McNary High School as a freshman three years ago.

“I had the discipline to get assignments in on time. The bell schedules were also a big part of it because you want to get to class on time,” Monrroy said. “I saw friends who didn’t do the transition school getting to class late and they weren’t as organized.”

Monrroy credited taking part in the Celtic transition school program that takes place five weeks each summer with instilling a focus classmates lacked. He was back last week as a transition school volunteer earning community service credit.

Students participating in transition school take writing and math courses along with some high school planning courses and can earn up to a half-credit in electives and another half-credit in English. Along the way, they meet fellow students and teachers who might become the anchors they need to stay connected and engaged in the school.

Sean Murray, a special education case manager and English teacher at McNary, leads the program each summer and recruits students from Claggett Creek and Whiteaker Middle School who teachers and administrators feel might be at-risk once they get to high school. Several factors, including testing scores, attendance, behavior and housing status, are used to determine potential high school success.

“Each year, I get a list of students who are identified at the middle schools and then I go and talk with them individually,” Murray said.

Last year was Murray’s first leading the program and meeting with students was less productive than he’d hoped. This year, he got a much better reception.

“They students who have taken part in it are talking about it, and we see the T-shirts every day in the halls,” Murray said.

As the school year unfurls, Murray tracks the students who enrolled in transition school and compares them to the at-risk students who didn’t. Two other district schools, which have had the program longer, have seen large gains in academic success. At McNary, the gains are reflected in other ways.

“The biggest difference was in referrals. The kids that didn’t do the program might have 40 to 50 referrals their freshman year and the kids that did only have five or six. That’s a testament to the teachers who come back to be part of this program during the summer,” Murray said.

One student Murray worked closely with last year had more than 50 referrals in his eighth grade year. He had one in his first year at McNary.

“A lot of the kids just need some positive interactions in school,” Murray said.

Those interactions, like the students themselves, take many forms. When teacher Ryan Somerville, a Crystal Apple Award honoree, had one student becoming overly distracted and another wanting to sleep, he took them out into the hallway for a race to the end of the hall and back.

More than one kid has tracked down a teacher they got to know in the transition program and asked for help when they are struggling with a class during the regular academic year.

With changing standards for graduation, Murray said the big focus this year has been math. Students will no longer get credit toward graduation for math classes lower than algebra 1, and they’ll need three credit hours of algebra 1 and higher to graduate.

“A lot of students, when they fail to graduate, fail because of poor performance in their freshman year. We’re targeting them now through this program to try and prepare them for what’s ahead,” Murray said.

In addition to fundamentals of math and writing, two Celtic teachers and coaches, Miguel Camarena and Kevin Wise, are teaching a class on career planning giving students a view of the options they’ll have upon graduation for further education and what might await them if they end up stuck in a minimum wage job.

The sports piece is also an important one for Murray because athletics were a lifeline for him during his high school years. He’s even got two football players from Western Oregon University assisting as mentors during transition school this summer.

That’s in addition to students like Monrroy who saw how the program helped him and wanted to wanted to return the favor.

“I thought I could give something back to the community. I want to be a police officer,” Monrroy said.

He’ll be a senior this year, but he’s already got a plan for what’s next.

“I’m going to go to Chemeketa Community College and be part of their criminal justice program. Then I would like to go on and get my master’s degree in criminal law,” Monrroy said.

Offense no problem for Salem-Keizer as vets take field

Members of an artillery unit deliver the game ball July 5.  (KEIZERTIMES/ Eric A. Howald)
Members of an artillery unit deliver the game ball July 5. (KEIZERTIMES/
Eric A. Howald)

For the Keizertimes

July 1: Vancouver 8, Volcanoes 4

The Canadians hammered Salem-Keizer for seven runs on eight singles, two doubles, two walks and three steals in the first four innings.

Volcano starter Ethan Miller allowed six runs on two hits in three innings to take the loss. Dusten Knight followed him on the mound and gave up a run in two innings; then Armando Paniagua allowed a run in three.

Christian Arroyo and Shilo McCall were the only productive Volcanoes, each with three hits.  Arroyo hit his second home run of the season with the bases empty in the ninth inning and had two singles, driving in two runs and scoring one. McCall hit a double and two singles and scored twice.

McCall doubled and scored on Arroyo’s single in the third. Brett Kay singled Geno Escalante home in the eighth.

Yeyfry Del Rosario was the winning pitcher in relief.

July 2: Volcanoes 6, Vancouver 1

The Volcanoes, especially Geno Escalante, found their bats and kept the Canadians from sweeping the series.

It was a 1-1 game until the fifth inning, when Salem-Keizer scored three times. Will Callaway singled, Craig Massoni walked, and Callaway scored on an error that put Travious Relaford, who had bunted, on first. Escalante singled Massoni home and was thrown out trying to make it a double, but Relaford went to third on the play and scored on a sacrifice fly by Shilo McCall.

Escalante had three hits including a double, drove in two runs and scored one. Starting pitcher Jason Forjet got the win, and the loss went to Starlyn Suriel, also a starter. EJ Encinosa, Eury Sanchez and Raymundo Montero pitched in relief for the Volcanoes.

July 3: Vancouver 6, Volcanoes 4

A five-run rally in the Canadian eighth inning wiped out a 5-1 Salem-Keizer lead.

Volcano starter Drew Leenhouts had nine strikeouts in his 6-2/3 innings, allowing eight hits but not one walk. Cameron McVey was the losing pitcher and Vancouver reliever Jose Hernandez the winner.

Christian Arroyo and T Relaford had three hits each for the Volcanoes.

The Canadians scored their eighth-inning on four hits and a walk, the big blow being a bases-loaded triple by Roemon Fields.

The ninth inning featured three ejections. A pitch by Vancouver’s Brett Barber hit Geno Escalante on the helmet. Plate umpire Matt Snodgrass ejected Barber, and an argument by manager John Schneider got him run out. After Escalante was called out at second base on a force play, the Volcanoes stormed the field, and batting coach Ricky Ward got the thumb.

July 5: Volcanoes 7, Hillsboro 6

Salem-Keizer scored the first six runs of the game and Hillsboro the next six, forcing a bottom of the ninth inning.

Nick Gonzalez, the Volcanoes’ starting pitcher, allowed three runs, none earned, in his 5-2/3 innings. Three relievers followed before EJ Encinosa, pitching one-third of an inning in the ninth, got the win. Austin Platt was the losing pitcher in relief.

First baseman Skyler Ewing, brought in because Craig Massoni was promoted to the Augusta Greenjackets, was one of the Volcanoes’ big hitters with a home run, a single and four runs batted in. Also starring offensively were Christian Arroyo and Will Callaway with three hits each.

The Volcanoes outhit the Hops 14-9.

July 6: Hillsboro 11, Volcanoes 9

A four-run fifth inning gave the Volcanoes a 5-3 lead, but the Hops scored five runs in the sixth.  Salem-Keizer added two each in the seventh and eighth, but Hillsboro scored three times in the ninth.

The Hops outhit the Volcanoes 14-7, so for a while Salem-Keizer did a better job of making hits count. The one home run of the game was a two-run shot by Pedro Ruiz in the ninth inning.

Ethan Miller, Salem-Keizer’s starting pitcher, allowed three runs, two earned, in five innings. The first reliever was Jake McCasland, who gave up five runs in one-third of an inning. Steven Neff and Cameron McVey pitched scoreless ball, and in the ninth Dusten Knight became the losing pitcher.

Hillsboro’s sixth-inning rally came on three hits, a walk, an error, a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch. For the Volcanoes, Christian Arroyo and Jonathan Junes had two hits each, and Will Callaway knocked in three runs.

Cody Geyer was the winning pitcher in relief.

July 7: Volcanoes 4, Eugene 3

Jason Forjet won his second game of the season against no losses as Salem-Keizer ended a scoreless 3-1/2 innings with a run in the fourth and added three in the fifth.

Tyler Hollick, who had walked, stolen second base and reached third on a grounder, started the Volcano scoring by coming home as Skyler Ewing grounded out. In the fifth, Hollick singled Jared Deacon home, Brett Kay scored on a wild pitch, and another wild pitch brought in Johneshwy Fargas.

For the Emeralds, Jason Goree doubled two runners home in the fifth and Yale Rosen hit a solo home run in the ninth.

Eury Sanchez, who despite the homer struck out three in his one inning, got his first save.