Hollis Brookline bids farewell to successful students

Courtesy photo Hollis Brookline High School graduate Ella Whittemore and school student counselor Dawn Breault celebrate Whittemore’s success last weekend. Whittemore participated in the school’s CHOICE program, which offers an equivalent alternative education for students who need a different way of learning.

HOLLIS – Information from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that students typically spend about 1,000 hours in a classroom each school year.

For some students, sitting in various classrooms for about six hours a day comes easy. For others, it doesn’t work.

Hollis Brookline High School student counselor Dawn Breault said not every student is equipped for a typical 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. day – and that’s OK.

In understanding this, Hollis Brookline High School offers students an opportunity to get an alternative education through its CHOICE Program.

As noted in the school’s program of studies, the CHOICE is a “non-therapeutic, alternative education program to help students achieve goals toward the completion of their high school education via computer-based, for-credit programs, or preparation for the HiSet (high school equivalency) test.”

Through this program, students can receive individualized attention to achieve their academic goals. They also get the chance to participate in extended learning opportunities, as well as gain access to counseling and career assistance, decompression time and other helpful resources.

Students in the program may spend all or portions of their school days in the program, based on their needs.

“Not every kid is built to be in school from 7-3 all day long,” Breault said. “Some kids just need a different path.”

Hollis Brookline class of 2019 graduate Ella Whittemore is a success of the CHOICE program.

Whittemore said for most of her senior year, she wasn’t physically in school. She switched to an online classroom, and needed only a few credits for graduation. This helped her accomplish other positive things, such as traveling.

“It helped me mentally. At first when I came into high school, everything was going fine. And then after a while, it was taking a toll on me. I couldn’t focus in regular classes. I would walk out of classes. I was very defiant,” Whittemore said.

The program made her more comfortable.

“All the teachers in CHOICE program really helped me find out ways to talk to other people, defend myself in a way that does not come off as disrespectful and they found different options for me that were more hands-on and specialized,” Whittemore said.

Whittemore, who was accepted to multiple colleges and universities, will be heading to Saint Michael’s College in Vermont to study psychology.

“She’s an outstanding kiddo in terms of balancing all that she has,” Breault said, while commending Whittemore for her perseverance and her strength.

“She was able to successfully navigate through a lot of stuff thrown her way that was not her fault,” Breault said.

Breault said 50 to 60 students are enrolled in the program at any given time. CHOICE is an open enrollment program. There are three components within the program, however not all students access all three components.

The three components are:

• Targeted supported study;

• Alternative coursework options, through online software that supports the whole learner with personalized alternative education; and

• Transition support/counseling, which focuses on career counseling, internships, traditional school counseling for emotional support and other assistance, based on a student’s individualized needs.

“The overarching idea is that (the CHOICE program) offers different paths. Not every kid is going to have the same path as (Whittemore). We have to be able to work with what that kid gives us and not expect them to mold all the time,” Breault said.

Breault said the program is great, but it is all about students like Whittemore who tackle challenging issues successfully.

Other successful students were recognized as the school’s top 10 students for the class of 2019. Included are:

Valedictorian Nicole Sayles Plummer – University of Miami (Frost School of Music); and

Salutatorian Kathryn Emma Partridge – Dartmouth College.

The following eight students are based on alphabetical order, not class rank:

• Rachel Joan Cerato – Northeastern University (College of Social Sciences and Humanities);

• Amira Zahra Elfadil – Northeastern University (College of Science)

• Kaito Kramarczyk – Brown University

• Dhruv Miglani – Georgia Institute of Technology

• Nora Elizabeth Miller – University of Pittsburgh

• Caroline Clarissa Pack – McGill University

• Peter Christopher Szczeszynksi – University of Waterloo

• Felix Yang – Northeastern University (College of Science)

The students graduated last weekend.