The Fulton County Opportunity School has a new home.
In fact, opportunity schools of four counties have a new home in Ridgeville Corners.
“We go by the acronym ROCS because we rock,” said Steve Held, supervisor of the new program. “It stands for Ridgeworks Opportunity Center School.”
Schools from Fulton, Defi- ance, Henry, and Williams counties, including Archbold, Pettisville, Montpelier, Edgerton, Liberty Center, Patrick Henry, Napoleon, Central Local (Fairview) and Hicksville participate.
“Each individual county did not have enough to sustain their own opportunity school anymore,” said Held, “so they were consolidated into one location.
“I think the schools really like our new location because we are so close, about two miles, to Four County Career Center.
“Schools no longer need to make special arrangements to bus their students to us. They are able to ride the same bus route as the Four County kids.”
Located in the old Ann Furniture building, the school has two teachers that cover all four high school grades.
“Because every kid comes to us at a different place in their learning, a school day here consists of individualized instruction,” said Held.
“We provide intervention to help students pass the Ohio Graduation Test.”
Students come to ROCS for various reasons. Some have a history of truancy, have failed several classes, or teen pregnancy has put them more than half a year behind their expected graduation dates.
Students who attend ROCS improve their school attendance to the point where their attendance rates are equal to overall attendance rates for all students.
Those attending ROCS receive more than just academic help. They develop vocational skills and learn citizenship and social skills. The ROCS environment provides students with a chance to interact with other students in a positive way.
Parents are encouraged and expected to be involved in their child’s education program.
The Northwest Ohio Opportunity Centers, the forerunners of ROCS, have a proven track record. About 93% of all students enrolled with them either returned to their regular classrooms, passed the OGT, advanced a grade level, graduated, or earned a GED.
“We basically tutor the kids where they are (educationally),” said Held. “We use textbooks and online instruction.”
Students at ROCS are assessed to find out their strengths and weaknesses, so teachers can determine what kind of help each student needs.
Intervention programs like ROCS focus on a student’s strengths, and allow him or her to work through their own academic weaknesses. These methods have proven to be effective.
Students are held responsible for their own success in the learning process.
“Some of these kids that come to us are brilliant,” said Held.
“All we have to do is give them their textbooks or put them in front of a computer and just let them go as fast as they need to. Others need more help to get caught up.
“We do conduct interviews with the students. We don’t accept every kid that is sent to us. The schools have been really good about sending only kids they believe will be successful in our program.
“We give them a place with fewer distractions where they can focus on getting themselves where they want to be in order to graduate. Each student that comes to us comes with graduation as their main goal, whether it’s graduation with their class or through receiving a GED.
“We provide this school because we know that students who graduate from high school are ultimately more employable than those who don’t,” said Held.
“We want to give every student a chance to succeed.”