PHS to introduce academies

PHS students will soon be able to enroll in academies as early as the 2015-2016 academic year, school officials confirmed. (File)

PHS students will soon be able to enroll in academies as early as the 2015-2016 academic year, school officials confirmed. (File)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—Students at Pelham High School will soon be able to specialize their high school experience through academies. Implementation of these specialized courses of study could begin as early as the 2015-2016 academic year, school officials confirmed.

Academies are specialized courses through high school aimed at a particular subject, for example health science or fine arts, Pelham City Schools Curriculum Coordinator Dr. Elisabeth Davis explained.

“It gives (the students) a plan of what types of courses they’re taking for four years in relation to college and career aspirations,” Davis said, noting classes such as English or math will work to support each student’s chosen academy.

Davis said she hopes to see seven academies launched “in some capacity” for the 2015-2016 academic year: Engineering, health sciences, law, culinary arts, Microsoft Internet technology, finance and entrepreneurship and fine arts.

Within each academy, students will take specific classes and apply what they learn in the classroom to real world situations through partnerships with local universities and businesses.

“Within each academy, there’s the course work and then you partnership with a university and you partner with a business,” Davis said, highlighting the sports medicine portion of the health sciences academy.

Through a partnership with Andrews Sports Medicine in Pelham and St. Vincent’s, sports medicine students will see their classroom knowledge applied “in the real world,” Davis explained.

“Students will do different things at St. Vincent’s and Andrews Sports Medicine,” Davis said. “They’re going to the workplace and applying it… it really helps keep them interested.”

Not only do the academies require partnerships with local businesses and institutions of higher education, they also require additional training and facilities.

“There is summer training for every course,” Davis said, explaining teachers must go through “extensive” training in order to lead courses in each academy.

PHS facilities will also need to be remodeled in order to house the academies.

“For the law academy, we will have a classroom that is turned into a court room,” Davis said. “For engineering, we will have to develop several labs… we’re going to put two new computer labs in for Microsoft IT and business finance.”

A “full dance studio” will also be constructed on the lower level of the high school to house the fine arts academy.

The specialized academies will be fully established “three years from now,” Davis estimated, but she said students and parents can expect to see them started next year.

“From what we’ve seen, it’s given students a pathway to see why they’re learning what they’re learning,” Davis said, noting the academies also help student “network with businesses” and open the doors to careers and college scholarships.