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New school in Putnam County aims to reduce drop out rates

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Updated: 8/20/2013 3:21 pm
PALATKA, Fla. -- School leaders in Putnam County are making sure their students are adapting to middle school.

The superintendent of Putnam County told Action News the way she hoped to do this was by adding the new C.L. Overturf Jr. 6th Grade Center.

"I'm looking forward to this school and seeing how it is," said sixth-grade student Caden Chastain.

Instead of going to a middle school with sixth-, seventh-,and eighth-graders, Chastain goes to the center, which only allows sixth-graders.

"We'd like to see what we can do with our sixth-graders academically, socially, emotionally," said Putnam County Superintendent Phyllis Criswell.

More than 380 students who finished fifth grade last year are now going to the sixth-grade center in Palatka, and parents are embracing this change.

"They don't have to worry about meeting new friends, or not knowing anyone, seeing strangers on the first day. Everywhere they look there will be a familiar face," said parent Cindy Belamy.

Besides making students feel more comfortable socially, Criswell told Action News she thinks the center will also help curb drop out rates for the future high schoolers.

She said most dropouts happen in ninth grade, and those who do drop out, usually fall behind starting in sixth-grade, a trend Criswell hopes to change.

Students at the sixth-grade center will also have the chance to try out the Cambridge Advanced Studies Program.

This will allow students to do more vigorous coursework and prepare for college.
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