With summer quickly approaching, many exciting changes have been announced for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. Changes include a freshman class of 120 girls who will arrive just in time for Academy’s new modified block schedule and renovations to both the interior and exterior of the school.
Several changes to campus itself are taking place. Already, new iron gates have been installed to ensure better security on campus. The new gates not only add to the aesthetic of AHN, but they also allow the entire perimeter to remain locked throughout the school day. This extra layer of security was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Yerrid Foundation. The McConnie family also played a large part in the fabrication and installation of the beautiful fencing.
Next year Academy will be implementing a modified version of the typical A/B block scheduling used by many schools. Each class will be 85 minutes. This schedule leaves room for student study halls as well as time for tutoring, assemblies, and club meetings.
Faculty and staff at Academy extensively researched block schedule in their Professional Learning Committees (PLCs) before deciding to put the block concept into action. In late September of last year a committee was formed to find the pros and cons of the new scheduling. The block schedule was adopted based on research showing that blocking together classes will allow for more successful teacher-student interactions and an overall better learning experience.
AHN President Mr. Art Raimo looks forward to the wider variety of classroom opportunities a block schedule presents. “I’m hoping that teachers take advantage of the extended time to really rethink instruction. Some teachers are already doing some very creative things in the classroom in the shorter period. I think the opportunities for that type of creativity are going to be even greater in the extended period.”
After the transition to block schedule was announced in early March, two block practice run days were set aside for Monday and Tuesday, April 29 and 30. These days were met with both hesitation and excitement from AHN students such as sophomore Rachel Anderson. “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it ended up being much more constructive than my other normal classes.”
Mr. Raimo emphasized the importance of these trial days. “I knew it would be beneficial for us to do a practice run to let teachers have a sense of how much planning they have to do for an 85-minute block and give students a sense of how long the time is going to be, and maybe to alleviate some fears that people have about the length of the class.”
One of the many benefits of a block schedule is a slower-paced day that can alleviate stress. Mr. Raimo especially appreciates this aspect of the new schedule. “I talked to a lot of students at the beginning of the year about their lives here at the Academy and one of the things that was said to me over and over again, particularly by upper class students but certainly even by sophomores and to a lesser extent freshman, was how stressful they felt their lives were…So we decided to take a step back and investigate different scheduling options.”
“I honestly feel that this is a very positive response from the school in terms of addressing the issue of students’ stress. It might not change the work load that students have…but I think that it will allow [students] to spread things out and maybe make it a little easier to manage time and to manage the work load.”
Along with the schedule, many of the present classrooms at Academy are being altered for the 2013-2014 school year. Because the incoming senior class of 100 girls would overcrowd the current senior lounge, the lounge will be relocated to a new and bigger room, N407, and a kitchenette will be installed across the hall in N405, the present journalism lab.
Additionally, students from both the elementary and high school will have the opportunity to use a newly set up Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) classroom starting in the fall. Five special projectors that are touch activated will be set up in this specialized classroom. The TEAL lab will provide great advantages for group projects and allow for more project-based learning.