Thursday, February 18, 2010

What makes Weston High School Unique?

Contributed by Sam Weyrauch

Free periods. Everyone has them from time to time throughout their high school careers, but does everyone know what to do with them? Here at Weston, we have a unique opportunity unavailable to students in many other towns. From sophomore year on we have open campus privileges, which allow us to leave the school grounds during our frees and go do other things. As freshmen, we, too, have study halls, and depending on the teacher these can range from just sitting quietly at our desks doing homework to playing games and having fun together as a class. But once we get back to school after that first summer of high school, we are allowed to leave the campus for our frees – just as long as our parents sign a waiver form.But what do people at Weston do when they walk out the doors and leave the building? you may ask. As you may or may not know, Weston does not have very much to offer in terms of stores or restaurants like other towns in the area have. Because of this, our two eateries become very popular in the middle of the day, since they’re about the only places we have time to go to during our half-hour lunch periods. When we have full periods free though, many Weston students go to places in Westport, Wilton, or Norwalk to eat, which is nice because it gives us so many options and because we have the ability to drive there easily. Another advantage of our open campus policy is the opportunity to go home for frees. If you have a free period at any time throughout the day (including first period when you get to sleep in), you can go home for the hour, so you can a) do homework without the distractions of the school library, b) take a nap, or c) just hang out. It really is nice to be able to leave the school, and if you have back-to-back frees it’s possible to even go to places like Compo Beach during the spring.One of the things that our administration assumes regarding our open campus is that we act responsibly while we are out of the school. This right, just like many others, can be taken away if it is abused, so it is in all of our best interests to respect it. I know many other schools in the area have closed campus, or just limited open campus, but in part because of our small size and less urbanized location, we do not have to stay in the school all day. This is just one of the things that make me happy to be a Weston Trojan.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Freshmen Study Hall at Darien High School

Contributed by Blair Pelley

The new freshman class has been denied the privilege of having frees during the second semester. The long, boring, no-talking- or-you-will- get-detention study halls are here to stay. Last year’s freshmen were promised frees second semester but when the second half of the year came around students' schedules didn’t change. The reason that the freshmen are stuck in their study halls is because the library was becoming overcrowded with the plethora of students flocking in second semester. The lack of tables and space to put backpacks has become the reason freshmen have been stripped of the promised frees. Back in the old days freshmen would get free periods after first semester if they obtained a letter grade better than a “C” in each class. But now no matter how good their grades are the freshmen class will be stuck in study hall. As a freshmen, I think a good compromise is having half frees and half study halls. This way the library wouldn’t be as crowded. But the freshman class has different opinions on having frees. Freshman Paxton Voigt said, “I hate it! It’s not fair that other grade got frees their second semester but we didn’t.” But other freshmen like Parker Hamill appreciate the full-year option. “I like having study halls; I actually get my work done.” Whether the freshmen class likes it or not, we will be sitting in silence for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Internship Programs at Newtown High School

Contributed by Sarah Ferris (Fairfield County)

There is a junior and senior internship program at my school, but less than 10% of kids at my school take advantage of it. It involves 30 hours of work in total, usually about a month, and it can be any time during the year. Students have to sign up by December by filling out a brief form detailing their career interest in that area. The most popular internships are for photography, but students have also worked at the local paper, research centers, and retail businesses.

It's difficult to arrange perfect internships because they cannot occur during school. It would be very beneficial to students if they could leave during the day to work, because many businesses close around 4 or 5, so there is not much time to work out a schedule.

We also have something called Junior and Senior Project, which is a popular semester-long class. This is different from an internship, however, because there must be a final project to present, something tangible. This also gives students the ability to work with professionals in their field of interests, but again, students are not allowed to miss school.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Foreign Language Education at Fairfield Warde High School

Contributed by Tara Lerman (Fairfield County)

At Fairfield Warde High School, we have a wonderful foreign language department. Students have the option of taking Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, or Chinese, and some people even choose to take more than one. As a junior in High School, I am in my third year of Latin, and I absolutely love it. I have learned so much in so little time.

There are also clubs and honors societies in which many students choose to participate. There is a Spanish Club, a French Club, a French Honors Society, a Latin Club, an Italian Club, and an Italian Honors Society. Each foreign language club at Fairfield Warde sponsors and pays for exciting trips and activities for students to engage in. For example, we have Italian Day , where Barlow's, our school restaurant, cooks a delicious all Italian meal to share with the whole school. Our Latin club pays for Latin Day every year, where we join Latin Students from all over the state who dress up in togas and spend a day at Holiday Hill. Not only do we get to miss school on this special day, but we have the opportunity to play games like soccer, tennis, and volleyball, and enter academic contests on topics such as geography and mythology. The Latin Club is also saving up for a trip to the Metropolitan Museum later this year.

If I were to change one thing about the Foreign Language Department at my school, it would be to have more honors societies. There are many Chinese and Latin Scholars who aren't recognized simply because recognition isn't available. Even still, I am very impressed with the Foreign Language Department at Fairfield Warde High School. Almost all of the teachers offer extra help, and the textbooks are straightforward and easy to follow. I hear about many schools in Fairfield County having poor foreign languages departments, but I guess we just aren't one of them.

Foreign Language Education at The Woodstock Academy

Contributed by John Bartolotta (Woodstock, Windham County)

My high school tends to several smaller middle schools, from the towns of Brooklyn, Canterbury, Eastford, Pomfret, Union (Tolland County), and Woodstock. The Woodstock Academy offers Spanish, Italian, Latin, French, Mandarin, and Japanese. I come from Brooklyn, and the middle school there has only one Spanish class that starts in the 8th grade. I honestly remember nothing from it.

At my high school, one must take two years of a language to graduate, and we have a wide variety of languages. However, much more needs to be done at the middle school level. I think it should be brought to the attention of my middle school that other middle schools have much broader programs for languages. For my high school, others might like to know the variety of languages we teach, all going up to five levels except for Mandarin and Japanese.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Foreign Language Education at The Norwich Free Academy

Contributed by Hunter Kodama (Norwich, New London County)

My school has a relatively large foreign language department, but I do think it could grow and improve. We offer French, Chinese, Spanish, Latin, Ancient Greek, Russian, and Italian.

My personal experience has been in French. I started taking French in 7th grade at the private school I went to before NFA. Because of the honors tracking at my middle school, I was always a class ahead of my classmates in high school. i.e., as a freshman I was in Honors French 2 with all sophomores, sophomore year I was in Honors French 4 (the honors track splits French 3 between 2 and 4) with all juniors, and as a junior I was in AP French Language. Unfortunately, there are no french classes offered after that, so I am currently foreign language free.

That is where I would like to see an improvement. The languages at my school are rather lopsided. Some languages offer 6 classes per track, while, as in my case, others only offer 4. As an advanced student, I simply ran out. There is talk about soon adding Sign Language and Japanese to the Foreign Language department at NFA, which I would love to see.

The Norwich Free Academy does not require students to take a foreign language to graduate.

Foreign Language Education at The Gilbert School

Contributed by Jennifer Hunter (Winsted, Litchfield County)

My school only offers Spanish and Latin. We also had Greek, but the teacher who taught both Greek and Latin retired. The new teacher does not know Greek, only Latin. My school could not afford to hire another language teacher because of budget constraints. Two years ago, the school began offering Spanish in sixth grade and going through high school. Latin starts in ninth grade.

The Gilbert School does not require a student to take a foreign language to graduate.

The biggest thing that my school needs to improve on is the variety of languages they offer. Spanish and Latin should not be the only options! I took Spanish 1-3. I would like my school to offer Italian or French.