The Charles D’Amico High School is a rural school that meets the challenge of helping its students stay connected. In a community where post-secondary options are few, the school is especially careful to make sure that students do not drop out. With that in mind, the high school and the local nursing home have partnered in the Community As School (CAS) program since 1998. Each year, twelve at-risk students are given the opportunity to attend the program, located in the nursing home, for up to one school year. Prior to their entrance into CAS, these students are identified as moderately to highly at-risk for drop-out based upon having been retained at least once, having low grades, and/or being behind in credits needed for graduation.
Thus far, 207 students have attended CAS, and the impact of CAS on these students is a well-documented success. On average, students who attend CAS experience an immediate improvement in their grades and a far greater likelihood of earning their diploma.
The impact of CAS, however, goes well beyond the academic improvements that students gain in the program. CAS has a tremendous impact upon the social and emotional development of participating students. When they enter the program, students are generally frustrated with school, have low self-esteem, and feel disconnected from their community. They leave the nursing home and the program with a new perspective on their place in the Albion District. They learn life lessons about the principles of caring, respect, responsibility, and perseverance. Most importantly, students grow increasingly connected to their community and demonstrate a higher level of respect for adults, especially senior citizens.