Speakers and two contests aim to increase academy interest and community
Blair will showcase and celebrate its academies during its first Academy Week, Dec. 15 - 19, to foster academy interest. The five-day event was planned in lieu of Academy Day to allow more speakers and activities, according to Academies Coordinator Vafolay Tulay. The events will not change this week's schedule, but will take place during classes.
Academy Week will feature a total of about 55 activities at various times throughout the day. Each event will involve a guest expert who is encouraged to discuss their job and the importance of classroom material. "They should leave with some understanding…of how all their work can tie in to things later on," International Studies and Law Academy lead teacher Paul Moose said.
Each academy has booked professionals from fields pertaining to that academy to shed light on possible careers. "We want to provide academy students with a chance to interact with experts from outside with careers that relate to other academies," Tulay said.
The Science, Math and Technology Academy has invited experts on a variety of topics including forensics, nanotechnology, medicine and engineering. Students in the International Studies and Law Academy can choose between speakers from the U.S. State Department, Maryland Association of Justice, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia and American Civil Liberties Union.
Students interested in listening to speakers signed up for a specific time slot in advisory a few weeks ago. By presenting teachers with the passes counselors granted, students will be able to leave regular classes to attend lectures throughout the week.
Freshmen will not be allowed to leave classes to hear speakers; rather various experts will visit their Connections classes. Ninth Grade Academy lead teacher Leslie Blaha has planned a wide range of guests for the freshmemn, including a yoga instructor, film producer and geographer. "Hopefully, students will get an idea of what kinds of jobs are out there," she said.
Tulay created two competitions that he hopes will facilitate a greater appreciation for academies. The first is a quiz testing knowledge of the academies and the second is a production, of any medium, that portrays some aspect of the academies. To enter, Students must pick up and complete appropriate forms from the Media center or the Academy office.The deadline for submission to both contests is Dec. 17. Students who answer all five quiz questions correctly or submit the winning creative production will receive an iPod.
Tulay hopes the extended focus this year on academy activities will remedy a lack of student interest and identification within the academies. "It is important for students to be informed about academies because Blair is a wall-to-wall academy school," he said. "Every student at Blair should be a part of Magnet, CAP or one of the academies."
Tulay hopes to plan more academy-oriented activities this year. "We try to encourage as many academy events throughout the year as possible…so we keep the flame of the academies going," he said.
A kick-off display table will be set up opposite the counseling office on Monday before first block. The table will remain throughout the week, displaying academy t-shirts, lanyards and other paraphernalia for sale. During both lunches, a celebratory cake will be available for academy students.
Ultimately, Tulay hopes that events like these will spread knowledge about academies beyond the student body. "We really try to make sure not just students but the community as well knows about academies," he said.
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