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Watkins works to become an academy

WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen high school is working towards becoming an academy program.
Superintendent Tom Phillips explained that in the high school’s change, students will be able to choose a pathway of electives from five different academics. He said they are experiential education, health and human services, communications, performing arts, and liberal arts and sciences. He added that is on top of the regular core classes students already take to obtain a Regents diploma.
Phillips said this is something that will be implemented over the next couple of years. He explained the first step would be the freshman academy in 2010. Phillips said the school is working on getting a group of teachers to each only the core classes to the freshmen. After that, Watkins Glen would work on creating the pathways/academies for the grade levels after freshmen.
He said the plan was created by Nancy Loughlin, school counselor, as a senior teacher project four years ago. Phillips said the purpose of converting to an academy structure is to get the students thinking about what they want to do after high school, whether it is work or post-secondary education. He added this is as opposed to just looking at what classes a students needs in order to graduate.
According to the draft plan, the elective courses differ depending on the academy. For communications, the electives could include creative writing, video production, cyber and entertaining law, and journalism. Experiential education could include environmental science, design and drawing for production, and technology electives. Health and human services electives could include psychology, sociology, personal and sports law, and theater production. Phillips explained classes would be chosen based on what would prepare students for a career in those areas.
According to the draft plan, all academies would also have students doing similar things at each grade level. Tenth and eleventh graders would do interviews with professionals, community services/service learning, and portfolio development. Eleventh graders would also do job shadowing. Seniors would complete both a portfolio and a senior project.
Phillips said the academy pathways are based on the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary (SCAN) Skills. He explained SCAN Skills work to figure out what skills are needed in a particular job, and to teach those in school.

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