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South St. Paul HS learning model gives struggling students a day to receive individual support

Students with grades "C-" or lower are required to come to school on Wednesdays. Those with higher grades have the option to stay home and complete assignments.

SOUTH ST PAUL, Minn. — At South St. Paul High School, there's a new learning model creating a lot of buzz.

"It's 'Packer Plus: What I need Wednesdays,'" said South St. Paul High School principal, Chuck Ochocki.

Ochocki says starting Wednesday, a school program that first kicked off last March during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic will provide extra help for students struggling to maintain good grades. 

"We have 900 kids here, and we have just over 500 that are going to come visit us tomorrow," he said.

All of those students will receive individual support catered to each of their needs. 

"Kids with C- or lower are required to come into school," he said. "Kids who have C or higher have assignments to do for school. They have a choice; they can come in or they can stay home."

Ochocki says it's not a "day off" for students who aren't required to come to school. Every student will have designated assignments.

"For the last seven years, 40% of South St. Paul students fail one or more trimesters, and what do we do to get them back on track?" he said.

Ochococki says that last year, the program led to a decline in failing grades. Now, he's hoping to keep expanding the program to help prevent students from falling behind throughout the school year. 

"You might be in one week and you might not be in, or you took a test that was hard and you might be back in, but it's really about helping the students get to where they want to go," he said.