Program Seeks To Help Hawks S.O.A.R.

Targets Students At Risk Of Failing

Educator Sarah Thiffault talks about S.O.A.R.’s success with the board of education, administrators, and the audience at the February 15 board of education meeting. Dennis Adams, principal at MTHS, spoke highly of the program, citing its 89.5 percent success rate. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

MANCHESTER – A program to help students get back on track academically has met with much success, officials reported.

Manchester Township High School principal Dennis Adams and educator Sarah Thiffault presented the school’s “Student Opportunity for Achievement and Readiness” results with the board of education, results they say show students are indeed getting back on track.

Dennis Adams, principal at MTHS, spoke highly of the program, citing its 89.5 percent success rate. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

S.O.A.R. is aimed at students who are at risk of failing due to a plethora of reasons: apathy, excessive absences, anxiety in a traditional classroom, among others, Adams said.

The students – there are currently 25 in the program, from freshman to seniors – are removed from the traditional classroom setting and placed in a more individualized environment with a “creative teaching approach,” the principal added.

“Every student in the program is unique, they came in for a variety of reasons,” Thiffault said. “This program is to make sure every student is reached.”

The district implemented S.O.A.R. the last semester of the 2015-16 school year, before block scheduling was introduced. Students are recommended to the program by guidance counselors or teachers with the blessing of the parents.

Of the 19 students in the program at implementation, 17 are on track academically, an 89.5 percent success rate. One student was removed by his parents and homeschooled; another student started strong, but bad habit reemerged and even with the modified program, he didn’t succeed.

The program had three seniors last year, all of whom were able to graduate. Adams said he felt the program should remain at a 25-student maximum.

Adams said the students had an increase in academic success and a decrease in absences and discipline problems.

Manchester Township High School (Photo courtesy of

Thiffault even shared that one student who was off track entered S.O.A.R. and is now in the running for a full scholarship to college.

“These are students who need lots of chances,” she said.

The program is not meant to carry a student through his entire high school career. The goal is to get students back in the traditional classroom full time. S.O.A.R. gives students the opportunity to learn skills that will help them in the classroom.

Adams said the biggest challenge isn’t necessarily the students; the school has problems getting some of the parents involved. Meetings are skipped, parents can’t be reached. Studies have consistently shown that parental involvement positively impacts their child’s academic achievement.

District superintendent David Trethaway said he is pleased with the progress S.O.A.R. has made with the students.