By Kerry Chan ‘15 and Amy Feng ‘15
Major changes are dividing incoming LASI freshmen into three sections: honors academy, college career and ready program, and social emotional learning group to improve student performance this year.
The new system was created so students would stop continually failing classes because it costs money to retake courses.
“We felt the LASI program wasn’t meeting the needs of the students, so we rearranged the LASI program based on student performance,” said Principal Michael McDonnell.
Students were placed into three groups based on their eighth grade report cards.
Honors academy students take classes that are listed as gifted, but they are neither in the medical science program nor in the humanities program. Students are required to get an advanced regents diploma, which demands seven classes a semester and three electives. For example, the three electives can be algebra II and trigonometry, an extra science class, and two years of foreign language. So far, 70 students have been placed into the honors academy this year. The honors academy is one of the more demanding programs although it is not as hard as medical science and humanities.
The college career and ready group requires its students to take the Career and Technical Education (CTE) course. The CTE curriculum includes classes like robotics, media, law and video production. These students can also take an extra year of foreign language and join Gilder Lehrman to earn six credits.
“Kids who come in and are ready to jump into gifted programs should be allowed to,” stated the principal. “Kids who need support should get that support, so that is what we do.”
Social emotional learning is a new course taught by math teachers, like Mr. Alex Zamor, Mrs. Shannon Ramos, Mr. Giovanni Gil and Ms. Jessica Sherman, because the math department has more teachers with suitable schedules.
“I have enjoyed getting to know the students,” said Mrs. Ramos. “It provides them with another opportunity to get to know an adult in life.”
The class was devised by the principal himself during the summer with the support of some of the guidance counselors to help incoming freshmen adapt to the new and unfamiliar environment of high school. Students learn how to react to certain situations and to deal with stress in and outside of school. It eases them into the high school lifestyle by teaching them about bullying, how to use planners for organization and tips on studying for quizzes.
“So far it’s good,” said Jonathan Ciceron ‘17. “We learned the three big missions in this school are honesty, responsibility and respect.”
Currently, they are working on a curriculum called ‘overcoming obstacles,’ which consists of learning how to deal with problems from family issues to friendship drama that comes their way. They also learn basic skills, like who to talk to when they need help, how to find their classes and what clubs are available.
Something the students enjoyed in Mr. Zamor’s class was watching the movie, Kung Fu Panda, which showed how Po overcame his struggles by training.
“It’s the first time this particular course is being incorporated into the school curriculum,” said Mr. Zamor. “It’s a work in progress.”