Duncan preparing to open 9th grade academy

DUNCAN, Okla_Duncan High School hopes that a plan to give incoming freshmen their own building will improve their high school graduation rate. School officials say on average about 80 percent of their Seniors graduate high school each year. They believe one way to fix that is to help freshman with the transition to high school. They will convert their "west building" into a "9th grade academy."

Superintendent Sherry Labyer said officials believe freshmen don't always get a grasp of what is expected of them in high school and if they never catch on, some will drop out. So, they hope the "9th grade academy" will change that.

Knowing that on average 80 percent of Duncan High School seniors graduate each year, does not sit well with Superintendent Sherry Labyer.

"It's very disheartening but I think that you have to go back to why and I don't believe or have any evidence that it is always the school."

But she said it's the school's responsibility to try to find out why.

"To try to find out what we can do to make everything conducive to their graduation that's our responsibility."

Their plan to combat the graduation rate is to target incoming freshmen, turning the "west building" into a "9th grade academy."

Dr. Labyer said when the building becomes the 9th grade academy, about 300 students will take, math, science, English and history courses inside.

"Our electives will be out in the main campus in the art area, so that they will integrate, but it will be the safety net of their core classes."

They hope making the transition for their youngest grade level into high school easier and the end result, a high school diploma.

"When students enter high school there is a level of expectation of remembering things, of taking responsibility of homework...for managing your time. I mean each year that a child gets older more responsibility comes with that age and the age appropriateness of that responsibility."

Superintendent Labyer said the school would like to have teachers who will only teach at the "academy" but are still looking into their budget, to see if that is a possibility.

The "9th grade academy" is expected to be up and running within the next two years.