New year gives opportunity for fresh start, better grades

Teens with a New Year's resolution of improving a GPA, take note: Guidance counselors and graduation coaches have some advice on how you can get off to a good start for the second half of the academic year.


"Start January fresh. Stay focused on the purpose of each class," said Patrice Gude, a guidance counselor at the Academy of Richmond County.

Get a planner, which will help you keep up with assignments and know when things are due.

Dorcas Powell, the graduation coach at Lakeside High School, recommended adding something else to your calendar -- find out when your teachers offer help sessions.

"Just about all teachers give help before or after school," she said.

Ms. Gude said you should take advantage of all the grade-boosting resources that your school offers.

For instance, at Lakeside High, Mu Alpha Theta, a math honor society, provides lunchtime math tutoring for students by students, Ms. Powell said.

January is also a good time for an adjustment if a poor attitude has been affecting your grade.

Ms. Powell said that students sometimes trip into the self-imposed trap of refusing to do work for a certain class if they don't like the teacher. That hurts only the student, not the teacher.

Another common mistake is to not do homework. In many classes, you get points just for completing the assignment.

The most common pitfall is that students miss days of school and do not make up assignments, Ms. Powell said.

That's when iParent comes in handy, she said. That is an online site that parents of Columbia County high schools and Hephzibah, Butler, Westside and Davidson high schools can use to access their children's grades and some assignments listings.

Students should still make sure they didn't miss anything by asking teachers and by checking for alternative assignments if the deadline for the assignment has passed.

"That communication between student and teacher is invaluable," Ms. Powell said.

Starting before you get behind is key.

"A lot of them think that they've dug a hole so deep they can't get out of it," Ms. Powell said, but there are options for every student, she said.

"They still have the time to improve," Ms. Gude said.

Reach Sarah Day Owen at (706) 823-3223 or


- Find out which days your teachers are available for extra help before or after school.
- Use free tutoring, such as Lakeside High's lunchtime math tutoring program.
- Use iParent to make sure you didn't miss anything.
- Make up missed assignments from absences.
- Communicate with your teachers.
- Use a planner.

Source: School advisers


RICHMOND COUNTY: The fourth six-week period begins when classes resume Thursday.
COLUMBIA COUNTY: The second semester and the third nine weeks begin when classes resume Thursday.
AIKEN COUNTY: Classes resume Thursday. The first semester and the second nine-week grading period end Jan. 15. The second semester will begin Jan. 16.



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