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I appreciate the invitation of Editor Corey Fyke to write a guest opinion regarding last year’s highlights and a look forward to the new year. I’ll focus on the present and future, and skip the look back.

The Chariho Alternative Learning Academy,

formerly The RYSE School, opened on the first

day of school. Thanks to the support of

elected officials and voters, this beautiful

new building serves secondary students in

our alternative learning and clinical day

programs. For the first time,

these students have equitable facilities.

This fall, over 40 community members, school and district leaders, students, parents and guardians, educators, and elected officials gathered together over three nights to craft a new five-year strategic plan, which we call Vision 2023. You’ll find it on the district website at www.chariho.k12.ri.us. Vision 2023 will be the foundation upon which school improvement plans will be built. It will serve as an improvement roadmap, impacting budget and program.

In December, the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS) results were released. Our results on this more difficult state assessment were respectable, but could be better. Two of our schools, Ashaway and Hope Valley elementary schools were rated as 5-Star schools. Charlestown Elementary School was rated as a 4-Star school. Richmond Elementary School, the Middle School, and the High School were rated as 3-Star schools. The Chariho Alternative Learning Academy earned 1 STAR. Coupled with the fact that the high school was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the No. 3 high school in Rhode Island, and among the top 10% in the country, it’s clear that Chariho is on the rise and considered among the top school districts in Rhode Island. With Vision 2023 setting the ambitious goal that all schools be 4- or 5-star, we have some work to do. Motivated by a challenge, each principal is in the process of identifying demographically-similar but higher-scoring schools in Massachusetts to compare ourselves to and learn from.

Our students will continue to do well because we establish high expectations for them. Did you know that our middle and high school students are not allowed to participate in athletics when they fail to submit an assignment? Did you know that the lowest passing grade at Chariho is a 70? Did you know that our graduation system requires students to reach a standardized assessment benchmark, to demonstrate financial literacy, and to pass a civics test? Our students will continue to do well because our curriculum is rigorous, standards-based, and engaging, and delivered by expert instructors. Our students will continue to do well because we intervene at the first sign of struggle. Did you know that each of our schools has a structure to identify, serve, and monitor students who struggle?

Finally, Chariho is fortunate to host the regional career and technical center, nicknamed CHARIHOtech. With students from all over South County enrolled in one of our 22 approved career and technical programs, while potentially enrolling in one or more of 22 Advanced Placement courses, along with opportunities to participate in a full range of interscholastic and extracurricular activities, it’s no wonder that enrollment at CHARIHOtech has never been higher. With learning aided by the issuance of a laptop to every student, CHARIHOtech students are also Chariho Regional High School students, engaged in the same rigorous academic curriculum, the outcome of which will be the receipt of a Chariho Regional High School diploma.

I invite you to visit our award-winning schools. Call me at 364-1150 or email me at barry.ricci@chariho.k12.ri.us to schedule a convenient time.

Barry Ricci is the superintendent of schools of the Chariho Regional School District.

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