By Robin Grace Bagaygay
The Saturday Academy program at Novato High has been created to support the school district financially, and to help students catch up with homework they missed or did not finish due to absences. It was designed to have 240 minutes (4 hours) to support students in a variety of subjects and courses over the weekend. They will provide resources for students who attend, such as available computers if a student doesn’t have one at home.
"We have had 29-98 students at every Saturday Academy and it is exciting to see that many students walk through the door on a Saturday morning,” shared assistant principal, Greg Fister. “It will be great when we have 200+ students every Saturday working collaboratively in groups, sharing, problem solving and chasing their dreams in their classrooms.”
“To be honest, I’d rather not go to school on Saturdays especially when it’s that early but I mean if I have an assignment that’s really important that I somehow didn’t do or got a bad grade on then it’s necessary to attend,” said senior Jose Gomez. “Most of the work you do there can be received up to full credit, depending on your teacher.”
This program gives students an opportunity to successfully finish work they missed or are hoping to finish. For example, there would be extra time dedicated to working on the Junior Research Paper. Saturday Academy is a solution for many students facing big projects, not just the juniors.
“It is an opportunity for students to meet with their teachers, use chromebooks for research and work on important projects like their Junior Research Project,” said Fister.
“The difference between getting work done at Saturday Academy from the school day, is that there’s a lot more concentration because you only have 4 hours to do everything,” shared Gomez. “Afterwards, teachers check the assignments you’ve done and give you the points for the ones you’ve completed.”
“Students are given more time to work with any teacher on something specific,” said psychology and leadership teacher, Jennifer Russell. “Teachers are giving students an opportunity to work on not only their JRP, but other big projects as well. So you can get to work with your teacher and have them support you.”
Don’t worry about having an empty stomach because food is provided!
“You get these lunch bags, and when I was there I got an apple, a hotdog sandwich and a cheese stick,” shared Gomez. “It was served kinda cold, but since I was really hungry I wolfed it down and later thought it wasn’t that great. Still got through the day, though.”
Saturday Academy helps clear student absences, which is another major benefit because it helps resolve this situation.
“It erases any absences you have for one day,” says Gomez.
“A full day excused or unexcused absence is recovered once a student attends one Saturday Academy,” said Fister. “Students are given the opportunity to receive quality 1-on-1 mentoring from teachers.”
Additionally, Saturday Academy not only benefits student’s work time, it also benefits NUSD and Novato High specifically.
The way NHS is funded is based on daily attendance, so if students attend school, NHS gets the money for students being present. However, if students are absent, they don’t.
“The district and our school specifically loses a lot of money because they only get government funding if students are here. It’s a way of recouping money loss for student absences,” said Russell.
Saturday Academy enables teachers to work with students, answer questions, and work together on curriculum and course work. However, not all teachers are available at Saturday Academy.
"The program will have Mrs. Corsetti in room 2302 for English and the Junior Research Project. Mrs. Kinnee will be in room 2103 for History and as well as the Junior Research Project. Mrs. Sanner will be in room 3403 for Chemistry. Mrs. Pardo will be in the Library for Math," shared Fister.
Fister and the administration encourage students to attend Saturday academy, whether to make up work or to clear absences.
“During school Monday-Friday I walk through campus and students ask me, 'Hey when is the next Saturday Academy? I really liked the last one,” said Fister.
If you are interested in attending this program, you must email Assistant Principal Greg Fister or ask your teacher to host their own Saturday Academy.
“Once you arrive, you have to sign up at the library and if you wanna go to a specific class you have to sign in and put the time you arrived and the time you left,” said Gomez.
The next Saturday Academy is scheduled on April 1st.