HHS Academies

HHS+Academies

Isaac Aponte, Staff Writer

So starting in 2017, Holyoke High School North Campus, launched the four High School Academies. Performing Media & Arts (PMA), Technology Engineer & Design (TED), Medical & Life Sciences (MLS), and Community & Global Studies (CGS). My class, the class of 2021 are actually some of the first to test out this system. At the end of our Freshman year, we got to pick which academy we would join during 10th grade. For me, I went with the PMA Academy, since I’ve always been interested in recording and editing videos. But what did these academies actually do you might ask? Well let me go over what they have done, what they’re currently doing, and what they plan to do.

The first thing the academies have done is show the Freshman class of 2021 what each of the academies are about, and helped students decide which one they wanted to choose. The PMA Academy is all about exploring the arts and engaging students to find their own, whether it be in online social media, visual arts, or live performances. The TED Academy is about getting students to create designs, and find ways to make them real through computer science or technological engineering. MLS is all about making opportunities for students to learn about biological science, from healthcare to nutrition. And finally. CGS is about teaching students ethnic and law studies, and how to connect our society to the world.

On the final day of school in 2017, the Freshman class of 2021 had one last assembly, after this we would all choose which academy we wanted to join next year. (For those of you who were curious, I ended up choosing PMA. It’s actually the reason why im able to make these articles, more on that later.) Then when 2018 came, the academies came in full effect. Every month we had academy focused assemblies, which talked about academy pride, jobs that work with your academy. During these assemblies we also got to pick our electives for Junior year, where we had first dibs on certain classes. For example, since Im in PMA, I was guaranteed a spot in the HHS Herald, since that class focuses on a form of media.

We also had academy exclusive field trips, ones that helped students see the kind of jobs that their academy helps prepare them for. A field trip that i went on for PMA, was a trip to UMASS Amherst to see modernized versions of Shakespeare plays, and the set up it takes to make them. Something else that the High School Academies planned to do was to put you in a core class, (Math, Science, English, and Social Studies), that has a teacher that is an expert in your academy. Though this plan didn’t end up working out, as some students were put into the wrong classes. My class is one of the first to test out this system, so if anybody would find flaws, it would be us. That’s one thing I really hope they work on, since the idea of making a class like English relate to what YOU want to do in life, is an amazing idea.

After our last field trips and assemblies, 10th grade came to a close, and so began our Junior year. Now so far, there hasn’t been much academy activity for us Juniors, at least that I know off. I’ve heard that there is still academy field trips for Sophomores, and Juniors from the same academy can join them if they ask. Freshman now have something called the Freshman Academy, where like before, they get to learn about what each of the academies are like. On top of that, Freshman also get to learn about our HHS North Campus in general, and get to know some of the school officials.

As a whole, the HHS Academy system has a ton of potential. Some goals still aren’t accomplished yet, like what I said about the core classes, and so far there hasn’t been academy activity for Juniors. But our Junior year isn’t finished yet, and the academies had really only been established for about 2 years. There is still plenty of time to adjust and add to the system. For example, I heard that there are plans to combine the TED academy and the MLS academy in one big academy. This would most likely take place next school year. Overall I have high hopes for this system, and I believe that over time, it will become something truly amazing for the next generations of students.