NEW RICHMOND -- A pair of grants will help New Richmond High School support a new program starting this fall for freshmen.

A Wisconsin Department of Instruction grant as well as a grant from Hazelden Betty-Ford will help fund training and materials for the Building Assets, Reducing Ricks or BARR program, as well as pay a coordinator position .

“What we have seen over the years is an increase in student need. We did feel like we had a lot of good supports in place, but we don’t have a large systematic structure that was matching the increase in student need,” high school counselor / BARR coordinator Aleksis Kincaid said. “Part of the grant funding is for parent training and resources on how to work with children that need additional support. Then the other part is the BARR coordinator position … to work with the BARR program and help the teachers at the high school as they are implementing BARR overall.”

The BARR program looks to help students:

  • Earn all core credits toward graduation

  • Earn higher achievement test scores

  • Become more engaged in learning, with higher attendance and fewer behavior issues

  • Reduce the adverse effects of alcohol and other drugs on learning

  • Experience higher expectations and more rigor in their classrooms

  • Experience more support in school.

“There is a lot to get involved with when you start high school, in addition to the new classes and expectations," Assistant Principal of Academics Heidi LinkB said, calling BARR "a way to make sure our students are feeling the full, all-encompassing support as they transition to high school.”

The program is grounded in science-based research and consistently demonstrates positive results, Kincaid said. The model is also grounded in a strength-based approach with a focus on the whole class.

“At the beginning of the year, it will focus on building community, setting goals and leadership. At another point in the year, it will go into topics like risky behaviors as the student becomes more comfortable with their groups,” Kincaid said.

Implementation will take three years, Link said, with the first year of professional development being provided specifically to staff. All ninth-grade teachers took part in BARR training on Aug. 15 and 16, along with school resource officer Aaron Anderson, school counselors and building administration. The program officially launched with the completion of training, Link said.

“The beauty of BARR, and their tagline, is that you are taking the same teachers and the same students, but you are yielding better results,” Link said. “That is because you are focusing on a truly positive approach to identifying a students strengths, and playing to their strengths. And then providing the supports in a proactive way by making sure every student has a sense of belonging within the building.”

The following two years of implementation of the BARR program will provide professional development for the rest of the high school staff, according to Link.

As part of the effort, the district is asking parents/guardians to be part of an advisory council that will meet three to four times a year . Those interested should contact Kincaid at 715-243-7449.