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On Feb. 26, 167 students came to Evanston Township High School on a Saturday to take advantage of a new program, Wildkit Academy, designed to “provide a range of supports for students in a non-traditional setting,” said Chala Holland, director of Academic Supports.

“Students are able to work independently, collaborate with their peers or simply work in a setting where they have access to materials, teachers and support staff for assistance,” Ms. Holland reported to the District 202 Board on March 14.

Full financial support for the pilot comes from approximately $100,000 in Title I funds, Ms. Holland said. Seven more sessions including three to which parents are invited, are scheduled for the remainder of the semester. Parents attending a Saturday session can learn more about ways to access various resources and supports at ETHS.

Ms. Holland said she designed the program with student input, asking students to describe circumstances in which they had experienced some type of academic success and where they felt they could have been more successful. Students were also asked how administrators and teachers could best support their success.

Wildkit Academy provides academic support for a wide range of subjects. Teachers of enriched as well as AP classes will host review and support sessions for students enrolled in these classes.

Wildkit Academy also offers students the opportunity to work off detentions and/or suspensions. The District provides transportation for students who live in areas of Evanston not served by public transportation on Saturday morning.

All ETHS students were welcome to attend Wildkit Academy, Ms. Holland said, but students with D’s and F’s were targeted and received personal invitations.

Although Board members requested data about how many targeted students were invited and how many of the 167 attendees were targeted, Ms. Holland said she did not have that information available at the meeting.

“Given that this is Title I money,” asked Board member Mark Metz, “how will we be able to fund this going forward?”

Ms. Holland said that the school must apply each year for Title I money that is specifically intended to fund programs serving low-income students. “At the end of our pilot we will have to report on how we met the goals,” she said, “and then apply for money again for the next year. … Without that, we’d have to make it up from something else.”

“What are the goals and measurements?” asked Mr. Metz. “How will we define success?”

“We will look at student grades, specifically the targeted students,” said Ms. Holland. “Attendance is also a measure. Students that some teachers hadn’t seen in a long time [came to the program].”

Deborah Graham asked what Ms. Holland learned from students about their preference for types of support and the environment of the support.

“Students like to be comfortable. … They prefer an absence of punitive measures. … They like to be in an environment where they can ask for help if they need it,” said Ms. Holland. “

Board members praised the part of the program directed at parents.

“Is it directed at all parents?” asked Board president Rachel Hayman.

Ms. Holland confirmed that and said Alicia Hart, teacher and coordinator of the Access ETHS program, was working with the PTSA to encourage parents to attend.

Wildkit Academy is scheduled for seven more Saturdays this school year: March 19 and 26, April 2 and 16, May 7 and 21 and June 4. There are two morning sessions: beginning at 9 a.m. and 10:30. Students can attend one or both. Parent sessions will be held at 10:30 a.m. on March 19, April 16 and May 2.