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The new Freshman Advisory Study Hall (FASH) model, implemented during the 2013-14 school year, helped connect freshmen with academic and extracurricular resources and support. That, says at least one student, made the first year at Evanston Township High School “a little less stressful.” The District 202 School Board heard an overview and status report on the program at their June 2 meeting.

FASH “enhances freshman support efforts already in place, with a focus on building teacher-counselor-student relationships that engage and connect students to school,” according to the report.  In its introductory year, the guided study hall was capped at 30 students per section and met a minimum of three times per week. All freshmen attended Monday programs that provided in-depth information on topics such as technology, athletics, student activities and college/career readiness. On other days, students in the program had the option to access various resources, schedule an appointment with a counselor or stay in the study hall and receive support from the FASH teacher.

By the Numbers

Forty-nine teachers and counselors supported the study hall program. Of the 750 freshmen enrolled full-time at ETHS, 510 were served by FASH. The remaining 240 freshmen participated in the Monday topic-specific programs but attended study halls in such other programs as STAE, AVID, Bilingual Support, Learning Strategies and Dimensions of Learning/ARC.

During the 2012-13 school year, counselors met with students a minimum of five times in group and individual sessions. The FASH program increased face time with counselors a minimum of 140%, with students seeing counselors at least 12 times through the program alone.

One of the goals of FASH is to connect each freshman to an adult and peer group at ETHS. In an effort to identify these connections, the FASH committee reviewed student activity participation data quarterly. Data indicates that during the 2013-14 school year, 78% of ETHS freshmen participated in one or more extra activity.

An advisory survey administered in 2012-13 helped develop the structure and topics for the FASH model in its pilot year. Surveys throughout the program’s first year measured whether students’ needs were being met. In 2012-13, 84% of students felt there were teachers they could turn to for help with school problems. That number increased to 91% with the FASH program. In 2012-13, 72% of students felt there was an adult at ETHS with whom they could talk out their problems; 89.1% of the guided study hall participants expressed that feeling.

Looking Ahead

Surveys of students and teachers will also help integrate new initiatives and ideas into the FASH program next year. For example, freshmen yearbook photos will be coordinated through the study hall so instructional time is not lost. FASH teachers will receive additional training on utilizing Chromebooks.

School Board member Jonathan Baum said the program is “off to a great start” and challenged the FASH team to “go deeper and farther” in years to come. He suggested they find ways to “make room for more one-on-one time” between students and teachers/staff. Mr. Baum also asked FASH leaders to think about how they might expand the program if they had more resources.

Bill Geiger, a first-year Board member, said the program is a “great opportunity to capture” where students might need more help.