Introductory course met with both hope and concern
A new Connections course will be required next year for all non-CAP, non-Magnet freshmen and may cause the involuntary transfer of Blair teachers to other schools.
The mandatory class will decrease the number of electives that students can take and may, according to Principal Phillip Gainous, lead to decreased enrollment in physical education (PE) classes for next school year.
The class will attempt to ease the transition from middle school to high school and to provide freshmen with classroom and organizational skills, said Academy Coordinator Susan Ragan. Teams of high school teachers and administrators, including those from other Downcounty Consortium schools, designed the course.
According to Ragan, Connections will not be a requirement for CAP and Magnet students because their curriculum provides them with equivalent skills.
PE Resource Teacher Cynthia Changuris expressed concern about Connections' possible future effects on teacher jobs. "It's going to be a difficult year," she said. "You don't like to see your numbers going down because that translates to the number of teachers in your department."
Without adequate enrollment, some of the PE teachers may be transferred out of Blair, Changuris explained.
However, Changuris said cooperation might be achieved between the Connections and PE teachers by allowing some of the PE teachers to teach Academy or Connections classes.
A pilot version of the class was taught this year, in three sections, to 44 students, some selected for the course randomly and some selected by their eighth grade counselors. According to an informal poll of 30 students on Apr 30 and May 1, 66 percent of Connections students find the course helpful.
The Connections course is designed to prepare freshmen for a high school experience from which later success can be built. Connections covers a variety of topics, such as career exploration, the coming academies, goal-setting, computer technology, oral presentations, research skills and work habits.
Ragan emphasized the career exploration and goal-setting aspects of the class. "If you have a goal it's easier to work harder and see the relevance of your schoolwork," she said.
Ragan also expressed the desire that Connections would allow students to acquire more knowledge about which Academy is right for them.
Current Connections students have mixed feelings about the benefits of the class. "It helps you out with things you're going to need later in life," said freshman Benjamin Abdelrahman.
However, freshman Rebecca Zeroth said she has not "learned anything new that would help me in the future."
CAP Coordinator Dolores D'Angelo said the Connections requirement may lead to less integration between CAP students and the rest of the school.
Although Connections teachers will be recruited by interest primarily, teachers will come from various departments, said Ragan.
Nina Feinberg. Nina Feinberg is a CAP senior who enjoys <i>Silver Chips</i> almost as much as she enjoys pie. Mmmm, pie. More »