Academic center offers Mountaineers support during study periods


Paraprofessional, Tory Zalauskas

Many high school students, including Mountaineers, struggled emotionally, socially, and academically during the pandemic.  

So, this past March, Wachusett created the Academic Development Center (ADC) to make the transition from remote to in-person learning easier for students.

“We still had some students working hybrid, remotely, in the spring,” said library aide Debra Flynn, who helped to run the Center in its first year. 

Along with paraprofessional Erin Delehanty, who had been hired specifically to work at the ADC, Flynn helped students improve poor grades and readjust to hybrid and in-person learning. 

“At the end of the school year, it [the number of students whom the Academic Development Center had helped] ended up being about 30 students, including seniors who were in danger of failing,” said Flynn. “Definitely English and Math were biggies that students needed help with.”

This year, however, the Academic Support Center (ASC), as it is now called, looks slightly different – with a new location and a different leader. 

“I have been in charge since October 25th, to be exact,” said paraprofessional Tory Zalauskas. “I am a new paraprofessional, and basically I was assigned to this job. But I love it and have no problem being here.” 

Zalauskas said that while about 23 students have online access to the Academic Support Center, about ten Mountaineers come in on any given day. 

Students who need help with make-up work, quizzes, tests, organizational skills, or tutoring can talk to their guidance counselor about going to the ASC. 

“It’s basically kind of like a quiet study,” said Zalauskas. “But the goal is also to see people’s grades rise, and I think that’s happened with basically everybody I’ve seen.”

Although this specific program only began running in this calendar year, the idea for the Academic Support Center proves far older.

Teacher-librarian and drama advisor, Alana Stern, said that she had come up with the idea of a program like the Academic Support Center eight years before its founding, but that she and the school administration had been unable to make it work logistically until this March.

“I think the value of the ASC is that it provides a way for any student who needs more help being successful in their classes to get that help,” said Stern. “There was no real concrete mechanism for this to happen before the ASC was created.”