Joint effort aids student transition

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

It was something she had grown used to as part of a military family. But Alyson Haynie didn’t want to move.

Stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, her father, Roger Haynie, turned down a job offer that would have uprooted the family to Oklahoma to let his daughter finish her senior year at Clovis High.

“Because it was her senior year, we went with her opinion,” said her mother, Yvonne Haynie, a Ranchvale Elementary teacher. “Once children reach high school, it is harder for them to adjust.”

Military families, however, often do not have the luxury of deciding where and when they will move.

Military children generally move six to nine times in the span of their K-12 education, according to the Military Child Education Coalition, an international, nonprofit organization that aims to level the playing field for military children no matter where they are shuttled by a parent’s career.

About 15 percent of students enrolled in Clovis Municipal Schools are the daughters and sons of Cannon military personnel, according to Clovis Municipal Schools data.

To address the challenges of military life, representatives from Cannon and Clovis schools will sign a Military Child Education Coalition action plan this Friday, according to a press release from Cannon Air Force Base.

“A great deal of turmoil (can be created) for children as they move from school to school,” said Lt. Col. Jim Lewis of Cannon, an organizer and advocate of the action plan.

“This is the first step in nailing down some specific actions to help transient students. It is also something we will need to review with some frequency to make sure … we are continuously improving,” Lewis said.
The plan zeroes in on secondary students.

“In elementary school, (students) are still very flexible — moving schools doesn’t bother them as much,” Lewis said. “But the older you get, the more significant it becomes to move.”

Older students develop deeper ties to friends and hobbies, Lewis said. And high school life can be harder to dive into, with complicated credit systems and seasonal extracurricular activities, Lewis said. A long-term goal of the Military Child Education Coalition, Lewis said, is to set a uniform standard across the country for the amount of credits needed to graduate from high school.

Guidance Counselor Melissa Winn said military students at CHS most frequently have problems with electives. She said some students enroll in the high school, and find electives they have taken before, such as German, are not available at CHS.

Here are a few areas the action plan addresses:

• Student Sponsor Program: Awareness of this existing Cannon program, which connects students with other children before they move, will be increased through marketing.

• School Hosts Program: Students who arrive at the beginning or middle of the school year will be appointed an ambassador — another student who will show them around the school.

• Assistance: School personnel and parents will be encouraged to identify students who may be having difficulty adjusting to a new school.

• Extracurricular activities: Students moving to Clovis after established tryout periods for extracurricular activities, such as sports or band, will be provided alternate tryouts on an individual basis in accordance with New Mexico Athletics Association guidelines.