The new Blair Academy courses are being offered to ninth graders for the first time this school year.
Currently, the Blair program provides Entrepreneurship, Human Services Professions, International Studies, Media Literacy and Science, Math and Technology. According to Blair's Academies website the goal is to create "communities of students and educators united by a set of common interests and career goals" in which students pursue academic and career objectives to achieve success beyond secondary education.
During the January 2004 registration, all non-Magnet and non-CAP freshmen must choose an Academy. Currently, these students are taking the new Connections course, which is mandatory for graduation as well as four other credits from the Academy of their choice. (For more information about Connections, go to Connections story.)
If Blair's Academies do not appeal to individual freshmen, students can choose from a variety of programs during the registration period that are offered in the other Downcounty Consortium schools: Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Wheaton or Northwood. The Visual and Performing Arts, Sports Medicine and Management, Information Technology and Environmental Sciences Academies are just some of the options at the other schools. For more information, visit the Downcounty homepage.
Susan Ragan, the Academy Coordinator, said because of the introduction of new Academy courses, physical education, fine arts, business and foreign language have been impacted; freshmen may have had to drop one of the above classes this year in order to take Connections. The administration however, has attempted to "dampen the effect" so that no single department suffered the loss of student enrollment, Ragan added.
While many ninth grade parents agree with the overall Academy objectives, some, like Susan Silverstein, have some concerns. "The goals are terrific, but parents were disappointed there wasn't more communication between the Blair administration and parents. We still have questions: why were students told they were required to take the bus in the morning because crossing the Beltway was too dangerous, yet not provided transportation if taking Connections eighth period?"
Even with the unresolved issues, Ragan has a positive opinion about the Academies. "I really can't see any disadvantages. The research backs us up [that] having well-defined goals and following through with those goals [is beneficial]."
Dolores D'Angelo, Coordinator for CAP, feels the Academies, which are based on the philosophy of CAP and Magnet, are flexible as students determine majors and search for jobs. Students are "choosing an area of interest" from which they can learn "various skills appropriate for a wide range of career choices," said D'Angelo.
Allison Elvove. Allison Elvove was a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online during the 2004-2005 school year. She wrote more than 70 articles while on the staff and supervised 40 student journalists, editing articles on a daily basis. During her time as editor, Silver Chips Online won the … More »