One of the first things that Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brian Benigni wanted to do when he started his new job was to increase the rigor, strength of and number of offerings Berlin High School students could take.
He started with this process two years ago and today, the final look at the new program of studies has been unveiled.
"Nobody told me that we had to change the Program of Studies when I took this job but in my mind the old program was missing pieces and it didn't coincide with high school reform or what NEASC was looking for," Benigni said. "What I want parents to know is this Program of Studies is for every student, not just more offerings for the top level students but all students."
Berlin High School continues to add to the breadth and depth of its curriculum with its release of the 2012-13 Program of Studies, the course-listing catalog for the upcoming school year. Recently approved by the Berlin Board of Education, the course offerings for Berlin High School students include new courses in many of the high school’s ten academic departments. Some of these new courses include Advanced Placement Chemistry, Advanced Placement Environmental Science, Advanced Placement World History, Meteorology, Baking and Pastry Arts II, Digital Art III, UConn Calculus, and UConn Statistics.
One of the notable features of the enhanced Program of Studies includes eighteen Advanced Placement and/or UConn Early College Experience courses in Mathematics, Science, English, Social Studies, World Language, Art and Family/Consumer Science. In addition to these college credit courses, the new Program of Studies contains expanded elective course offerings in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English, and additional college and career-preparatory options in all departments.
According to Berlin High School Principal Francis Kennedy, “the quality and breadth of options for study at BHS affords students access to premium learning experiences.” Mr. Kennedy added, “BHS students are able to pursue their interests while, at the same time, expanding their abilities in a variety of disciplines.”
Berlin Board of Education President Gary Brochu stated that the Board is very excited about the improvements to the high school’s Program of Studies over the past few years, noting that “Berlin High School now offers more rigorous and expansive course offerings than schools in neighboring communities, both public and private.” Mr. Brochu has another reason to be excited about the high school’s Program of Studies. “As the father of a daughter who will be attending Berlin High School next year, I’m thrilled that she and her classmates will have access to rigorous and challenging courses that will help her become extremely well prepared for college.”
Benigni outlined some of the changes.
"Say there is a student who is not real strong in math, we can stretch out Algebra I over two years and they can take Algebra II as seniors and be ready for college," he said. "Before we had seniors taking two or three classes as senior and basically having a half day. I just thought we should provide more than three and a half years of education to our high school students.
"To get to 27 credits, students will have 10 electives they can take. We have taken out the gateways classes to give greater access to the classes the students want to take. To take Pottery, students used to have to take Intro to Art. They don't have to do that anymore. There are two high schools in the state offering chemistry to freshmen. The other is Glastonbury. That would allow some students to take AP Bio, AP Chem and either AP Physics or AP Environmental Studies."
Benigni said it was of the utmost importance to have the Program of Studies in place before the high school renovation project was finished.
"In the end does this give our students an opportunity to attend a higher level college? Maybe, but it will give all students the opportunity to not only get into the schools they want but better prepare all students for college. It is a pathway to be successful at the high school and in college."
Current Berlin High School students will register for next year’s courses in February and March. Students who are currently in eighth grade and their families are invited to attend the BHS Expo and Grade 8 Curriculum and Activities Night on Monday, February 6 at 7 p.m., starting in the Berlin High School Auditorium.