|What is an academy?|
According to Brother Ralph Darmento, Deputy Superintendent of Schools, who authored the guidelines for academy status in the Newark Archdiocese, “Academy designation implies that special skills and subjects are taught. It is not merely a merging of schools and inserting the word “academy” into the school’s new name.” There are very specific academic standards and enrichment programs that academies must have in order to earn that name.
Just some of the academic hallmarks of an academy are as follows: world language instruction given throughout the curriculum (Grades 1-4 on at least a weekly basis; Grades 5-8 more frequently, three times per week at a minimum), mathematics program to consist of the regular courses as well as a full year of a standard algebra course, science laboratory integrated throughout the curriculum, art and music courses as part of the curriculum, and religious education and formation programs addressing the academic, sacramental and spiritual preparation of students. This academy model starts right from the beginning with an Early Childhood Program that engages students in age-appropriate learning. All of the instruction given Pre-K-8 utilizes a wide variety of presentation techniques. There will still be the traditional direct instruction from the teacher, but there will also be more opportunity for group/project learning, cooperative learning, and inquiry learning. Much of this is also integrated with technology such as classroom computers.
The students’ extracurricular lives are also addressed by the academy guidelines. Programs offered cover a wide range of items from athletics, to academics, to the arts. Students in academies will continue to have quality athletic programs such as boys and girls basketball. Now they will participate in forensics contests, science Olympiads, and academic challenge bowls, just to name a few. They will also have the opportunity to explore the performing arts through things like choir or drama.
In an academy model, nothing is left to chance. An active advisory board is in place to assist the pastors and principal in setting policy for the academy. *
*Source: The Catholic Advocate January 24, 2008