Discussion continues about bringing freshman to SPASH


The Mirror reporter

Will freshmen ever be a part of the Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH)?  Would the class sizes too big?  Could SPASH support that many students?  Do we have enough space?  What accommodations need to be made?  Would the freshmen benefit from it?

Discussion of freshmen getting moved up to SPASH has been on the table for quite some time now.  “The district has looked at this alignment from both the academic perspective as well as the facility needs and costs associated” said Connie Negaard, the Interim Director of Secondary Education for the Stevens Point School District.  “It really must be a community decision with all voices being heard.”

There are many benefits for the freshmen if they were to come to SPASH such as having the same academic opportunities as grades 10-12.

Busing would no longer be an issue for the freshmen involved in sports because they would no longer need to ride a shuttle bus from Ben Franklin or PJ Jacobs to SPASH.

Another benefit for the freshmen coming to SPASH is they would be more exposed to the idea that they are technically in high school.  “Their academic performance in ninth grade is reflected on a transcript that travels with them for life.  Having ninth grade students at SPASH more strongly reinforces the role of high school credit and academic performance as it relates to a transcript,” Negaard said.

Yet another benefit for the freshman if they were to come to SPASH is they would be able to participate in all of the co-curricular activities that SPASH has to offer. “Ninth grade students are certainly ready to be at the high school, and these academic and extracurricular advantages would benefit their experience,” Negaard said.

“There would be a greater continuity in programming and services for the students.  It seems like students have to learn a whole new system with counseling and things of that nature,” SPASH Assistant Principal Jennifer Melville said.

One disadvantage of having freshmen here is the size.  The student body would be too big for SPASH to handle.  There would not be enough faculty to accommodate this many students.

“Expansion to SPASH would be absolutely necessary and very costly, so that financial piece is a very huge commitment at a time when budgets are so tight,” Negaard said.

“We would need more science lab space and our gym would need expansion due to the addition of all of the students for physical education,” Melville said.

The freshmen at their current school have many opportunities for co-curricular activities.  If they came to SPASH, some of the clubs would become too big and some students might not be able to participate in the activity that they want.