by Brad Matthews ’11
A year after the academies were implemented, the school is overhauling its offerings. According to the Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) meeting held on November 18, there is “no support for wall to wall academies.” Therefore, the academies will become optional, and students will not be required to register for an academy.
Assistant Principal Renee Brimfield said that the academies will be streamlined from four academies and several pathways to six academies and no pathways. In the new system there will be three academies from Career and Tech Education (CTE) and three that are “Sherwood grown.” The CTE academies will be the Teacher Education Academy, the Health Professions Academy and the Hospitality Academy. The “Sherwood grown” academies will be the Environmental and Horticulture Sciences Academy, the Visual and Performing Arts Academy and the Engineering, Computer Science and Business Academy. In order to differentiate the academies from a normal high school experience, the academies will include required courses, capstone projects, a letter of recognition included with college transcripts and field trips specific to that academy.
Brimfield cited economic issues as a cause of the changes in the academy system and the school’s inability to “get the staffing we needed to implement fully the plans for the academies,” she said. “We also felt that many of the successful programs we already offer were essentially academies and we could recognize students for their sustained involvement in those programs using our existing resources.” Due to these staffing shortages, the school decided to cut support for mandatory academy participation and instead made the program open to any interested student. The academies without a lot of interest or staff support have been terminated.
To attract students to academies, the school will use incentives such as field trips or other unique and fun experiences. The capstone projects that complete and give purpose to academies will include science fairs, art exhibits, musical performances and internship presentations. This differs little from the Sherwood Science Fair, Senior Art Show and multiple concerts already put on by the school. It remains to be seen how these capstone experiences will differ from those already existing activities.