High School

The world’s oldest known high school is in Edinburgh, Scotland. It began in 1505 and is the Royal High School. Thisl was used as a model to start the first high school in America, located in Boston, Massachusetts. The English High School began operations in 1821.

In the United States, a high school is a secondary education system that will educate children who are in the ninth grade trough the twelfth grade, or in the case of others, tenth grade through twelfth. Each state and district will have their own specific guidelines when to start the high school year, either adding ninth or not. Typically a child will be eighteen years old or approaching eighteen when he or she graduates in the United States.

There are several different categories of high schools in America. There are those that prepare children to hold basic technical careers, which they will work on during their school years. These schools are vocational schools, where many school districts within one county will gather students together. Another type of high school is the college preparatory school, which can be difficult to get into unless you have the early high grades throughout middle school.

These schools will teach subjects that children will need to go on to a university or college, especially if that college or university is an Ivy League one. Another type of high school is the alternative school, which is usually for children who are having behavioral problems for whatever reason and sometimes a judge or a therapist will insist that the child be enrolled in this high school. Some of the children who may attend this alternative school may have mental health issues that preclude them from attending a main stream school. Security risks would be too high to allow other children to attend classes with children who are suffering from severe mental health concerns. Some of these alternative schools are catered to those children who are experiencing drug and/or alcohol problems and need supervised treatment. A component of their treatment may include daily or weekly treatment with a therapist or drug and alcohol counselor.

Most schools in America begin their classes in late August or early September, and go until the next May or June, depending upon calamity days during the year. Children in the United States typically have the entire summer off from classes. Many people, especially some educators, would like to see American school districts adopt a year round calendar. Those who propose going to school year round state that it would benefit parents, who would not need as much day care help during the summer months and it would also benefit the children, because many times children lose a great deal of the knowledge during the summer months. Teachers sometime complain that the first month or so of the new school year is spent playing catch up, trying to remind children what they learned toward the end of the previous school year.

Rethinking High School

How we educate high school students in the U.S. needs to change. Our high schools are no longer relevant to the needs of 21st century learners and the system must be restructured. This restructuring will allow students to choose from a variety of new study options. The days of “one size fits all” for secondary education services are coming to a close – it is now about providing students with a “customized” course of study in their pursuit of a high school diploma. Students should have a choice among the traditional high school model, a community high-school model (a hybrid between traditional and online instruction), and an early-college model that will allow students to graduate with both a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree by taking a fifth year of high school.

Central to all three high school study options, or combination of options, is an intensive focus on making each learner’s secondary school experience a successful one (particularly at the freshman level), and offering ubiquitous student access to the Internet both in school and at home (using a variety of mobile computing devices). A synopsis of each program option required in a restructured high school include:

Freshman Academy

Research has shown that the transition between middle and high school is one of the most difficult developmental challenges a person faces in life. Students who are not successful in 9th grade are six times more likely to drop out before completing high school compared to their peers. The reasons for such a high failure rate include a variety of student factors upon entering high school:

– Physically and emotionally changing;

– Different setting with different expectations and experiences;

– Moving from a school environment designed to nurture children to one that

is designed to produce independent young adults;

– Academics are more challenging;

– Young teenagers are immersed with older teens.

A Freshman Academy helps to ameliorate these potential problems and issues by creating a “school within a school” environment as part of the larger high school student population. This is done by clustering 9th grade teaching teams and classrooms together, and utilizing group of upper classmen that will provide peer support. The program ensures that teachers have adequate student-focused common planning time and engage in cross-curricular instruction. Parent involvement and peer mentoring are also key components of the Academy.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Technology plays a large role in our students’ lives today. Personal devices can enhance and enrich learning opportunities both at home and at school. High schools today must be committed to allowing responsible, learning-centered use of personal devices at school so as to provide as many pathways to understanding and learning as possible for students.

Access to robust wireless networks is vital to student success these days using a variety of mobile computing devices. These devices can be either school-provided or personal laptops, tablets, or smart phone; however access to the Internet must be filtered to be in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Access from a personal device should be primarily for Internet use, but students can be given access to their own email account and document folder on the school’s network server.

For purposes of allowing students ubiquitous access to the Internet for instructional purposes, “technology” means a privately-owned wireless and/or portable electronic hand-held equipment that includes, but is not limited to: existing and emerging mobile communication systems and smart technologies, portable Internet devices, hand-held entertainment systems or portable information technology systems that can be used for word processing, wireless Internet access, image capture/recording, sound recording, and information transmitting / receiving/storing.

Hybrid Community High School

The creation of a hybrid community high school, in addition to traditional high, merges traditional and online learning into one customizable secondary education program. This hybrid is particularly attractive to students who do not do well in the traditional high school setting, such students at-risk of academic failure, gifted students, or students who are just plain bored and need something different. This merger results in one, united flexible-program high school for “non-traditional” high school students who, for one reason or another, would prefer to complete many of their required credits online instead of in the classroom.

Every student attending the hybrid program receives a graduation plan during their enrollment period that best meets their individual needs. To ensure that students have the best opportunity for success with a program of this sort, a mandatory three-week (15 day) orientation is required of all new students designed to prepare them for independent online work using an online curriculum (such as e2020), while the faculty assesses each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

In my school district, students are required to complete a series of in-classroom courses that include: Career Cruising, Effective Note-Taking & Study Skills, and Strategies for Academic Success before being placed in one of three tiers that allow for independent work online anywhere, any place, and at any time. Each tier is designed to offer a customized blend of in-school support with a student-centered approach to providing educational services online on the student’s terms, not the staff’s terms. Students are assigned to an instructional track based on in-class performance, online attendance and activity, grades, and level of self-motivation after they complete orientation.

Students are reevaluated at the end of every session, at which time they may be assigned to a new instructional tier based on the above criteria. Tier 1 students are required to attend class five days per week, receiving the most in-class support and supervision. Tier 2 students receive in-school instruction 2 to 4 days per week. Tier 3 students need only attend school one day per week. In all three tiers, students are able to work an unlimited number of hours at home and have access to e2020 courses 24 hours per day. All students have access to teacher support via email or phone. Additionally, students in the hybrid community high school program must have access to the regular high school program and allowed to take courses there and participate in the full range of extracurricular programs alongside their traditional high-school peers.

Early College Program

It is widely accepted that a majority of today’s jobs, eight or nine of every 10, require education beyond a high-school diploma. It is also known from U.S. Census data that most adults in the U.S. have not yet completed a two or four year degree. Although nearly 70% of high-school graduates start some college classes, only about 20% actually complete a degree. One significant problem today is that many students find that completing a college degree is difficult because of the many conflicting financial and time commitment priorities they face in today’s economy. A successful pathway to a college degree now requires a coordinated collaboration among high school, college, family, and community partners.

In my school district in Michigan, we have developed an early college program for a cohort of 50 committed students who agree to a rigorous academic program beginning in the 11th grade and continuing in a dual-enrollment program with a local community college through a 13th year in order to obtain both a High School Diploma and an Associate’s Degree. The program also provides an occupational track for students who wish to pursue a one year Certificate or Associates degree in a skill based area of technology, health, or business.

The cost of tuition for obtaining the Associate’s degree is paid by the school district, which utilizes it’s per pupil state aid payments to fully fund the program. There are very little out-of-pocket costs to the students. The savings on two full years of college tuition alone is estimated to range from $8,000 to $50,000 and beyond. The early college program also reduces the amount of actual time it will take a student to complete a degree by one year, which could provide one extra year of potential income in their lifetime. This earning opportunity value could range anywhere from $25,000 to $80,000 or more, depending on the student’s degree. Although textbook expenses are covered, some personal transportation costs will be the obligation of the student; although bus service between our high school and the community college is provided free of charge.

Early college students are enrolled in both high school and college for grades 11, 12, and 13. These students will complete a traditional six-year college education (four years of high school and two years of community college) in only five years, thereby accelerating their baccalaureate and/or graduate degrees.

Students with the Associate’s Degree are eligible transfer to most colleges and universities throughout the country. Because the first two years of tuition will be paid for by the school district, the student eligibility for sports scholarships, academic scholarships, and/or Pell grants will be extended to the year following the 13th year. Students do not lose eligibility for opportunities for college scholarships or federal financial aid because of their participation in our early college program.

Students who may not wish to pursue a Bachelor’s degree program are eligible to enter into a career program that provides employable skills while earning credits toward an Associate’s Degree or completion of a Certificate in the field of technology, computer occupations, nursing, and health/medical areas. Those obtaining an Associate’s Degree in any the community college’s technical/career program are eligible to transfer to universities or colleges that have approved Bachelor degree agreements with the community college for their specific area of study.

Through a unique partnership, counselors from both our high school and the community college provide services to early college students that support them throughout high school and their 13th year.

Summary

By rethinking how high school instruction is delivered, American secondary education can begin offering a truly customizable to its students. In so doing, we can produce high school and Associate’s degree graduates with a comprehensive set of critical thinking and tech-savvy skills that will serve our country well as these students compete for the new jobs in our global economy.

High School Reunion Ideas – 10 Steps to a Fun and Memorable Event

Planning a high school reunion? Here are some reunion ideas to help you plan the perfect get together, whether you’re setting up one night of fun or a whole week’s full of adventures.

Class reunions are really exciting events. You get to meet up with classmates that you may not have seen for years as a lot of them have moved away from the old neighborhood to different cities, counties or states. Some of them may have even moved out of the country since graduating.

Maybe you’ve lost touch with a lot of your old classmates, even if it’s only been ten years since graduation. A lot of alumni may only see their old classmates at a class reunion so planning one that makes sure these alumni will keep coming back takes some good advanced planning.

So where do you start? Well, here are some planning ideas to help, starting with how to find all of those former classmates now that you’ve been out of touch for a while.

  1. Find some former classmates to help with planning a class reunion. Planning takes a lot of work but it doesn’t have to be stressful, especially if you can locate and “hire” some assistance from your old pals. And with today’s technology, not only can you find a lot of your old classmates through social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Classmates.com for example. And with the help of Facebook and free websites, you can even do a lot of the planning online as well. Once you find a few enthusiastic classmates with some good reunion ideas, start assigning out tasks such as…
    • finding those elusive classmates and getting email and physical addresses for invitations.
    • having someone look for a venue that’s large enough so you don’t have to worry about the size of the guest list later on.
    • planning a format for entertainment like music, games, etc.
    • making name tags for your classmates. This may come in handy if people have changed as they’ve aged.
    • planning a menu, keeping in mind that you may need a really wide variety to accommodate different diets like gluten free or diabetic. You want everyone to have some nice choices for their meals.
    • high school reunion ideas for decorations. This can be in the form of banners, posters, streamers, balloons, table decorations, etc. You might even decide to center it around a theme like the year you graduated high school.
  2. Location! Location! Location! Choosing where to have your reunion is extremely important for a couple of reasons:
    • Your former classmates may have to travel quite a distance to attend so you want a place that’s close to hotel accommodations for your long-distance buddies.
    • Size matters when it comes to planning a high school reunion location, especially if you had a large graduating class and you manage to get most of them to attend. And if they bring their spouse, significant other, partner or what have you, that’s twice the size of your class so you need to make sure the room or space is large enough to comfortably accommodate the amount people you expect to attend.
    • Price plays a role in the venue you choose. You don’t want to price anyone out of attending so your high school reunion ideas for choosing a location should definitely include price shopping for the best value. For example, if you find a hotel with a nice large room that’s often used for wedding receptions, maybe they’ll give you a discount if you book it early or give bulk discounts if X amount of guests book a room for the night at the same time.
  3. Plan months – if not years – ahead. You think you need to give plenty of notice to wedding guests? The exact “rules” apply for a high school class reunion. So one of the high school reunion ideas is to make sure you set the date out far enough for long distance classmates to plan their schedules accordingly. Some may have to take vacation time, hire sitters, board pets and save money to make the trip. High school reunion invitations should be fun and – well – inviting. Add a list of all of the classmates you’re inviting and if you have their permission, include their emails too. Add a list of alumni you haven’t been able to locate through normal channels and ask the invitees to get back to you if they know where any of the missing can be found.
  4. Use social networking sites like Facebook Groups to help give your classmates a head’s up about the upcoming reunion and to help locate your long lost high school pals. You can even set up a free website or forum to get the ball rolling plus ask for more high school reunion ideas from future attendees.
  5. Ask for donations. High school reunion planning can turn out to be pretty expensive, probably almost as much as a wedding reception when you really think about it. But don’t be nervous about asking your former classmates for a little monetary assistance to get done what needs to be done to make the reunion successful. One of the most helpful high school reunion ideas to help defray upfront costs is to make sure the reunion is “by invitation only” and sell the tickets well ahead of time. These funds can be used to pay for decorations, caterers, venue deposits, entertainment and favors or gift bags for the guests.
  6. Hire a photographer. You’ll want lots of pictures of your old classmates and even a new class portrait to commemorate this event. To cut costs here, check with your high school or community college to see if any of the students in photography classes would like to make some money. You’ll get really good photos and help another student in the process.
  7. Roll out the red carpet. Just like celebrity entrances, have your guests enter on a red carpet with the photographer taking their picture as they enter.
  8. Play music from your year of graduation. You can do this a couple of ways. When you check your high school or community college for photographers, ask around for music students or groups of students who have a band who’d be interested in playing at the reunion. Another option, if you have a local School of Rock, these kids would love the opportunity to show off their talents at an event like a high school class reunion. My nephew attends the School of Rock in Exton, PA and we’ve been to several of their “garage band concerts” and these kids have talent!
  9. Make up name tags for your former classmates. This will come in handy for those people who really look nothing like they did in high school.
  10. Gift bags or swag bags for favors. High school reunion ideas call for getting creative and nostalgic while being practical and fun at the same time. Like with any party favors, you can put together edible favors, useful favors, funny or gag favors or things that remind you of the year you graduated.

Custom laminated bookmarks make great favors because you can create them with different quotes on each one. Your classmates can share and swap them for their favorite quotes and photos. You can find quotes for your bookmarks just about anywhere and some suggestions are song lyrics from the top songs during the high school era and quotes from the backs of the yearbooks. Add magnets to the backs of the bookmarks. Magnets are always useful and fun favors for any party. In fact, you can use even us laminated bookmarks to mail out Save the Date notices to your classmates letting them know to “bookmark the date” on their calendars and watch for the invitations to come in the mail.

Hopefully these high school reunion ideas will help you with planning a high school reunion that all your classmates will love and look forward to for years to come.