Remembering Racial Integration
Jessica Machetta, Middle School and High School Instructor
 
A couple of anniversaries this month remind us of the often troubled past of education in America. On Sept. 24th, 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered the National Guard to enforce racial integration of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.
 
The “Little Rock Nine” -- the first African American students to attend Central High School -- were treated like outcasts, second-class citizens, undeserving of a good education. The Supreme Court had ruled three years earlier that schools had to desegregate and the Little Rock school board had voted to do so voluntarily. Still, it’s difficult to imagine how frightened those nine teens must have been on that day. 
 
The Little Rock Nine attend classes for the first day of integration, protected by federal troops.
 
The resistance to integration though, especially in the deep South, was thick, and elected leaders clung to old beliefs.

Nearly five years later, on Sept. 2nd, 1963, Alabama Gov. George Wallace sent state troopers to descend on Tuskegee High School to forcibly halt integration. He had taken office that January, vowing, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.” He intended to make good on the promise he made to his electorate, a confederate flag draped behind him at the podium.
 
It took another year for President Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making racial discrimination in employment, voting, and the use of public facilities illegal, but as we well know, more than five decades later, hard battles are being fought every day. 
 
I hope that as back-to-school celebrations fill our halls and our homes, we can take a moment to reflect on the checkered history of education in America, pay reverence to those brave souls who held their heads high as they walked into an all-white school, and make teaching history to our children a priority, stains and all.
The Great Bridge Build-Off
Dan Richter, High School and Middle School Instructor
Our fine group of middle school science students has picked up the gauntlet after high schoolers dropped it. Last school year, the high school physical science students built bridges from spaghetti and hot glue. After researching the key engineering aspects of bridge design for optimum load distribution the students built their bridges. Many of the students that were proud of their skills with the design and construction were shocked and disappointed. After all the work of studying famous bridges and load dynamics, then the sometimes frustrating process of building, they were faced with the load test. Basically, they build ‘em and break ‘em. Learning about failure is the main reason science and technology have grown so much since our childhood. The designs they used typically failed in the range of a 50-75 pound load. Our previous champion’s bridge failed at 26 pounds.

So, the middle schoolers are presently doing their research and are learning basic blueprint drawing. They are making scaled drawings of their chosen designs with a Top View and a Front View. This helps them plan the actual construction. It also helps me to explain to them why their bridges failed the way they did, to learn from their errors, and try again with more knowledge.

It is a great multi-discipline activity that is both fun and crammed with opportunities to learn transferable skills and self-confidence. Improvements in their second attempt are always satisfying. We expect to start making our load tests in late September. Wish your student luck.
Empowering Students to Discover Their Personal Narrative
Evan Simpson, Dean of Students
 
Students in English 9 and 10 are starting their year by writing a personal narrative. They are encouraged to look at a moment of change in their lives, big or small, and look retrospectively about how it has shaped who they are now. It can be an “Aha!” moment of figuring out a difficult problem, a family tradition that they have come to appreciate more, a moment that they achieved an important milestone, or any of a myriad of life experiences. The important part of this is to see what lessons they have learned when looking back at this time. Even having less than two decades under their belts on this planet, I’ve seen a bounty of great experiences that students have been drawing from; their first time without training wheels on their bike, moving from a childhood home, moving to a new school, even something as simple as beating their first video game. Sometimes teachers and parents do not realize the impact of some of these small moments on our students, and it can be incredibly healthy to engage with them emotionally, creatively, and academically to get to know them better. Seeing these students reflect on their lives is encouraging, as I see a great class of open-minded and mindful students.
Getting to Know Each Other
Debby Sharp, Middle School Instructor

Here in middle school, we have sailed through the first week back of the 2021-2022 school year and we are ready to roll. We spent the first week getting to know each other, setting expectations for the school year, and just getting comfortable in our classroom setting.
 
We engaged in a variety of fun get-to-know each other activities. One of the activities was to list two truths and one lie about ourselves. The rest of the class had to guess which were truths and which was the lie. It wasn’t that easy, but it was fun and we learned a lot about each other and made some immediate connections.
 
We created a Self-Care journal that we will write in every day to monitor our feelings and set goals for the day. We answered questions about our names and dug deeper into our feelings about our names. So, there’s no excuse for forgetting a classmate's name:)
 
All in all, we had a fun, relaxing week getting to know each other and ourselves as learners. Now, this week, we are ready and willing to jump into academics, working independently and collaboratively with each other.
What is Art?
Evyn Marsh, High School and Middle School Instructor

As students begin this new year in Fine Arts with me, one of the first things I like to do is go over what art is. After all, if you’re in a class called Fine Arts it would be nice to know what we mean when we say art! We began class by asking, what is art? Some notable responses I got were:

“Art is what I do when I want to relax,” “Art is creating something,” “Art is something that takes skill, time, and you care about it,” “Art is inspiration,” “Art is a drawing or a painting on paper,” and “Art is everything!”

All of these responses were great to hear! Asking the students about what defines art is a great way to open up a discussion about what art means, what is good and bad art, and how they create art. In class, the students were asked to divide a paper in half and draw some “art” on the left, and something that is “not art” on the right. Some notable depictions can be found in the image to the left.

So what is art? What does it mean to you? After the class period, the students came to different conclusions and learned how to respectfully disagree with each other. Some ended the day saying that art could be anything, while others placed limitations on the definition of art, such as the artwork must have a creator, the artwork must be on paper, the artwork must come from an emotional state, or the artwork must convey a message. In the end, art is truly how you define it. Is a painting art? Is a movie art? Is screaming art? Is a mandarin duck art? Is the Earth art? Are you art? All of these questions are meant to spark a discussion (or sometimes a debate!). Have a different definition of art? Start up a conversation with your family about art and what it means to you!
Helpful Back to School Tips for Families 
Kyle Pepper, Educational Recruiter and Enrollment Counselor
 
We are all very excited for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year at Accelerated Schools! Accelerated Schools is thrilled to welcome back all of our returning students as well as our new students to the Accelerated family. In preparation for those exciting and sometimes challenging weeks ahead, I wanted to share some helpful information for parents and families with students who may have a harder time transitioning back to school from summer break. 
 
1. Mental health problems emerge at back-to-school time.
Children with special needs require a lot of help learning how to manage a new schedule. As a parent, you can ease your child’s anxiety by modeling confidence and calm behavior, and by imposing structure in family life (mealtime, homework, and bedtime routines).
But if your child shows signs of extreme anxiety and has unusual difficulties in school, you should immediately discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher as well as a mental health professional, someone who can advise on whether a child’s problems are normal and age-appropriate or require further evaluation.
2. Kids’ brains are changing dramatically.
Profound changes occur in the brains of children, particularly as they enter their teens. The teen brain starts “pruning”—strengthening some synapses and eliminating many others. A temporary imbalance of this pruning in certain areas of the brain has been linked to teens’ erratic and risky behaviors, as well as the onset of anxiety disorders, depression, and substance abuse.
It’s important to keep communication open at this vulnerable time when teenagers are starting to look like adults, and think they are adults, but may not have the skills to manage stress. If you haven’t already started setting time aside each day to talk to your child about challenges and new experiences at school, now is the perfect moment.
3. Anxious parents send anxious kids to school.
Anxiety disorders run in families. Plus, anxious people tend to marry other anxious people; children with two anxious parents are at especially high risk. But genetics are just one factor. Environment is another. Kids really are like sponges, absorbing the energy and adopting the behaviors around them.
One of the most helpful things you can do is model calm, confident behavior, particularly while helping a child get ready for school. A child usually starts school no calmer than her least-relaxed parent.
4. Teachers matter, maybe even more than you think.
Teachers get to know a child’s family through the child’s eyes, and they get to know how a child behaves without his parent present. This means parents can get all kinds of information about a child from his teacher—information about learning difficulties and peer problems as well as academic achievements and close friendships. Teachers are allies, and you should talk to them regularly.
Good questions to ask include: How is my child doing? Do you have any concerns about his social or academic skills? Do you think he needs my help with anything?
5. Homework time is crucial.
Young children with learning difficulties, as well as those without any documented problems, can benefit from their parents’ involvement during homework time. 
A good routine might start like this: Create space on a desk to work; help him clean out his backpack; review the day’s assignments, and discuss the homework as well as any questions about it. You can observe your child’s learning strengths and weaknesses this way while also reinforcing good study habits. Be positive and encouraging.
6. Don’t jump to conclusions.
Kids grow and develop at different rates. Ideally, a child will acquire various skills within expected time periods, but they may develop more quickly in one area than another. Parents often worry when, for example, one 5-year-old can read fluently while another can barely sound out words on the page. But a lag in one area of development doesn’t mean a child has a disorder. If you think there might be a problem with your child’s development, talk to their teacher. 
For more information and resources for families with students with learning disabilities/differences, please visit the Child Mind Institute website:
Choosing the Right College
Liam Murphy, Community Outreach and Enrollment Counselor

Make a List of Colleges
Draft a tentative list of colleges that interest you. Your list may include schools in your area, schools that have a particular major of interest to you, or schools you know very little about. Your list may be long, but in the early stages, you don’t want to eliminate any school you are curious about. It is very important that you look at the school for its academic programs as well as its support programs. Your academic experience in college is what will provide an important foundation for your chosen career path after college. You want to end up at a place that you will enjoy attending and have the educational support for years to come.

Educate yourself about the Colleges on your List
After you have created your list of schools, research the schools. Read everything you can find on the school. Look at their web page, read their press releases on their Web page, check college resource books, talk to your school counselor. 
 
Guides you may want to look at include:
For more than 40 years, concerned parents have turned to Accelerated Schools for individualized learning programs helping students overcome challenges, and excel academically. The fact is, a traditional school system is not designed to meet the needs of every child. When a student is not being successful, or is not thriving in a traditional environment, parents must often look elsewhere for a solution. This is were Accelerated Schools comes in.

Accelerated Schools begins by creating a learning program designed specifically for a student. Our work points are toward changing the ratio of failure to success and by cultivating an environment of accountability. Our students are given attainable goals and are rewarded by celebrating their accomplishments. Once a student starts experiencing success, their attitude, motivation and effort improve dramatically. This ends the negative cycle and leads to positive academic progress and positive self-esteem. 
If you have comments and/or suggestions about our newsletter, email Adam Burnett.