Ferndale high schools introduce new Secondary Honors Program
Posted April 2, 2015
FERNDALE — Ferndale School District administrators want the district’s students to be more than just prepared to leave Ferndale for the collegiate level, so the Secondary Honors Program was established to challenge those who want something more.
While the goal is to send everyone to college, the Secondary Honors Program is designed for students already at the top of their class academically. It aims to provide them with new cultural experiences and access to college recruiters, and to challenge them to achieve even more in the classroom.
“It is very important for students to challenge themselves at this age, because the challenges will only make them stronger and better prepared to handle various situations and adversity that life sometimes may bring,” Ferndale High School Principal Lisa Williams said. “College is the first challenge they will face after high school graduation. Our goal is to ensure that they are prepared to make this a smooth transition and have many wonderful experiences and opportunities to learn and grow.”
The district encourages students entering FHS and University High School to apply during their eighth-grade year so they have as many opportunities as possible to be part of the Secondary Honors Program. English Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator Beth Grillo said that this year, in the program’s first year, administrators required a teacher recommendation to join the program, but administrators may look at eliminating that requirement.
Otherwise, Grillo said students are required to have at least a B average in all their classes and must maintain A’s or B’s throughout their time in the program.
Another requirement to be part of the program is that students have to pursue and acquire the Advanced Placement International Diploma. In order to achieve the diploma, students have to take and pass five different AP tests by the time they are ready to graduate.
“This is a rigorous program with high expectations, and that is what we wanted,” Grillo said. “If a student is going to be a Secondary Honors Program student, they have to commit to taking this level of rigorous coursework, but the incentive is if they do, they have access to this international diploma that is accepted and recognized at universities around the world. If they want to go to school in England or Egypt, they will be able to put this on their transcript, and they will be recognized as being of high caliber.”
The program has about 60 students enrolled this year, and administrators hope to expand on that total next year, as none of the current students are seniors.
Outside of the advanced coursework, being part of the program gives students access to monthly after-school seminars. So far this year, the students had a seminar on “Walden,” and another seminar gave them access to a Michigan State University representative.
The students will be required to take part in a summertime learning experience, whether it be an art camp or an online college course. In the future, administrators hope to introduce a capstone project where students can research and investigate a single topic for the entire school year before presenting their findings to a panel of educators.
The goal, Grillo said, is to give students cultural experiences that they may not otherwise have in a high school classroom.
“As an intrinsic value, there are always students and parents who are looking for an extra bit of culture or challenge, and this definitely provides that,” she said. “We want to provide them with some different experiences they may not have during the regular school day, and have interactions with other Secondary Honors students, and this is a good opportunity to do that.”
As the Secondary Honors Program students look to apply for college at the end of their time in Ferndale, Williams said that being able to put the program on their applications will be beneficial.
“The Secondary Honors Program could potentially give students a positive advantage over other students applying to various colleges and universities because of the outside learning experiences and extended learning opportunities offered to them,” she said. “Students selected to participate in the program must have high academic standards, discipline and strong work ethics. They come in already having a solid academic foundation, and the program’s intent is to hone in on those traits and give students other opportunities to take their talent to a different level.”
For more information on the Secondary Honors Program, visit www.ferndaleschools.org/academ ics/soar-higher.
About the author
Josh Gordon covered Berkley, Ferndale, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge along with the Berkely Schools and Ferndale Schools districts for the Woodward Talk. Josh worked for C & G Newspapers beginning in 2013 and attended Central Michigan University. Josh won Society of Professional Journalists awards in 2015 and 2016 and is an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers. During his free time, Josh likes to read, try new foods and snowboard. In 2016, Josh began working for the Baltimore Business Journal.
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