Since 2010 in the Nashua School District, the Kick Start High School summer program has been offered to a select group of rising freshmen who are not meeting their full potential in school due to poor attendance, performance or test scores.
According to Martine Cloutier of Careers in Education 1 at Nashua High School South, these middle school students are identified and referred by their guidance counselors in an attempt to give them a “kick start” to their high school credits.
“The program is designed to focus on enhancing literacy, numeracy and science skills while demonstrating these skills in real word experiences,” she said.
The Career and Technical Education component is offered during the last 2 weeks of the program as an incentive to get through the summer program and to demonstrate the use of the skills they are learning through hands on applications.
“Students are introduced to 5 different CTE programs through a round robin event that presents them with some of the CTE programs offered at both Nashua High School North and Nashua High School South,” she said. “Students then prepare for interviews, complete with cover letters, and do a rotating interview session with the separate CTE instructors. Once accepted, students participate in 2 different CTE programs.”
According to Cloutier, the Kick Start curriculum incorporates the use of literacy, numeracy and science and helps students make connections to the importance of these skills in potential career pathways after high school.
“This program also helps students gain confidence before coming to high school as they get familiar with the learning environment they are to be part of in the fall,” she said.
Reaction by students has been equally positive, some of whom cite profound benefits. Ciara O’Brien, 11th grader at Nashua High School North, said, “The thing I like the best was how it taught me more responsibility skills and shaped me into a better person…I also learned that being in a CTE will give you more experience and also a chance to get a feel of the career you want to pursue.”
In O’Brien’s case, her participation in Kick Start altered her career aspirations, as she began the program with the intent to become a nurse, but left it with a desire to become a preschool elementary school teacher. She is currently enrolled in Careers in Education.
Samantha Diorio, 11th grader at Nashua High School North, said she also experienced a similar change of heart after completing the program.
“Before Kick Start, I wanted to be a vet or someone who is involved in animal rescue,” she said. “I’ve always had an interest in film—and taking video production in Kick Start [rekindled] my film interest and now I hope to someday be a director.”
According to Cloutier, interest in the program continues to grow with “a significant amount of Kick Start students enrolling in our CTE classes once they are eligible to sign up.”
“The students we have in our current classes come in with an advantage, having had a chance to do some training over the summer,” she added. “It’s a great program.”