Friday, 25 October 2013 09:56

21st Century Academy

By Andrea Barry | Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The 21st Century Academy, an interdisciplinary program offered at Saratoga Springs High School, is looking to expand its program to more of the high school’s students.

The unique program, “21st,” is offered to juniors and seniors while allowing them to take their four core classes all in one. Learning through a project-based learning style, students often pair up or get into groups to complete the assignment at hand.

The 21st Century Academy is held during the first two blocks of the student’s school day. During that time, the student is taught math, science, social studies and English. Occasionally, time will be set aside for an individual subject, but it is usually all interconnected into one.

“We might be doing a project for science, but at the same time incorporate a lesson for English into it,” said Leanne Donelan, social studies teacher of the 21st Century Academy program.

Each day, it is the same group of students who gather and are taught by the same four teachers. Donelan says this is highly beneficial for the program, as it allows for relationships to become enhanced. Whether it’s teacher-to-student or student-to-student, Donelan said being surrounded by the same faces as often as they are allows for a closeness that may not be possible in normal block scheduling.

 “We’re a little family,” emphasized Donelan.

The projects assigned generally are big and time consuming, but the students are well aware of what needs to be done in order to meet a deadline.

 “It is either really hard or manageable,” Donelan said. “We give them a lot of work time—it is up to the student to be self-disciplined.”

Given that a majority of the courses’ work is done together; the ability to cooperate, work in a group and manage time are all also considered to be important outtakes of the program.

“We want our students to be ready for the real world,” Donelan said. 

Leaving 21st Century, the goal is for the students to be walking out with “skills that are practical,” she continued.

While 21st is still somewhat new, its goal is to expand and be offered to all grades in the high school. Hoping to become an even bigger “school within the school,” the program has intentions of campaigning the program again to its students like it has done in previous years. 

Donelan said her least favorite thing about “21st,” are the misconceptions about the program. Considering tests and quizzes are rarely given, it may be conceived as too easy, or that it doesn’t look good for college, but Donelan emphasized that is not the case.

“It actually looks really good for college,” Donelan said. “Colleges are looking for anything that is different.”

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