By Dr. Brian Smith
For the last several months, we have been attending staff meetings and soliciting community feedback about our vision to accommodate secondary enrollment growth. As a result of valuable suggestions, the collegiate concept remains intact, but we are recommending it be housed differently. Instead of a separate, off-campus school, we are proposing the program be housed within two senior academies (official names to be determined) attached to each of our two high schools.
Some key concepts of the senior academy model include providing the following:
- a senior academy facility, attached to each high school that will serve all seniors in each school
- a program and culture to transition students from a high school setting to a more independent post-secondary learning or work environment
- access for grades nine to 11 to advanced courses in the academy, and conversely, access for seniors to electives in main buildings
- a less traditional, more college-like atmosphere with flexible spaces for studying or small-group work and student union-like dining areas
- a collegiate curriculum option with career pathways and authentic college-credit courses through major universities, associate degree programs and technical colleges
- exploration of expanded student opportunities such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, fine arts, music, humanities, advanced manufacturing certification, etc.
- wrap-around support services for seniors, even though the overall school is larger, help ensure post-secondary success (34 percent of Indiana students drop out of college after their freshman year) including a focus on important transitional life skills. Examples include establishing a credit rating, managing debt, time management, building a portfolio and networking for career opportunities
- a separate facility with its own cafeteria and other services that prevent students from being overwhelmed by a larger overall enrollment and enables more opportunities for personalized supports
- an expanded extracurricular program including music, arts and intramural sports
Next year, we will shift 100 volunteer students from Hamilton Southeastern High School to Fishers High School. We intend to offer this rebalancing option for the next several years. The goal is to ultimately even up the enrollment between the two high schools without redistricting.
We will continue to seek input as we develop this concept and will continue to communicate as it evolves.
Public meetings are scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. in the FHS auditorium and March 21 at 7 p.m. in the HSEHS auditorium. The presentation panel will include FHS Principal Jason Urban, HSEHS Principal Matt Kegley, Supt. Brian Smith, Chief Financial Officer Mike Reuter and FHS Assistant Principal Valerie Piehl.