Every Student, Every Day, A Success! What does this mean?

Update on Grand Island Senior High Prep Academies

This is an exciting time for Grand Island Public Schools - both for our students and our community. We are making great strides on the new model of Grand Island Senior High based on the community, staff, student and parent input provided during the GISH Visioning and Strategic Planning processes conducted during last school year.

This new approach to high school is the Prep Academy model. Our basic concept is breaking GISH into six smaller schools within the school, each with a specific focus.

As we took on this project, we established three non-negotiables to keep in mind.

Arts for All Students
Access to the arts is crucial for every student. No matter which Prep Academy a student chooses, nothing will hinder their access to arts classes, including band, orchestra, show choir, visual arts, theater and the many other arts classes offered at GISH. Students develop a rich appreciation for the arts while unlocking creativity and passions through these many opportunities.

Personalized Academics
Every student at GISH will have access to Advanced Placement, honors, dual-credit and online classes, regardless of which Prep Academy they enroll in. Likewise, students who need English Language Learner and Special Education services will have their needs met. This personalization is fundamental in the philosophy of the Prep Academy model.

Graduate Profile
Third non-negotiable is a profile of what every single graduate of Grand Island Public Schools will be. These graduates will be college ready, career ready and community ready. We know if they are, they will also be world ready and ready to thrive. The experiences and expectations we have set are all measurable and identifiable. The experiences all students will go through for both college and career readiness are set so they can make personalized decisions based on their passions, interests and plans for their future.

For example, every freshman will go on a college visit. They will also attend a career fair. The purpose is to allow these students to see themselves in places they may never have previously considered possible.

To design our Academy structure, we consulted data provided by the State of Nebraska's H3 Job Report research. H3 stands for High Skill, High Wage, High Demand.

Let's be clear: We want our students to thrive. Not get by. Not make ends meet. Thrive. We want to introduce them to career opportunities they are passionate about and can attain in our area.

The skills they pick up along the way will be transferable to any career, in any area. This is not simply to fill jobs in Grand Island. This is to provide our students with opportunities and genuine partnerships they can use to access authentic real-world learning in our community.

Schedule changes
To make this happen, we are changing the way we schedule classes. We are moving away from a seven-class day to two four-class days. This A/B schedule allows students more time for enriched lessons, longer cooperative activities and problem-based learning tasks in each class period.

It also allows students to take more classes in their time at GISH. With the current schedule, students have the opportunity to take 24 semester-long elective classes in addition to their required number of classes (English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, PE).

The new schedule will allow for this same number of electives - which include the previously mentioned arts classes, as well as additional AP classes and core classes, economics, journalism, world languages, speech and many others.

However, in addition to these core and elective classes, all students will have eight additional semester-long classes attached to their selected Prep Academy. These will be based on the interests students have and which pathway within their Prep Academy they choose.

Academy structure
There are six academies.

Freshman Academy: All ninth-grade students will go through the Freshman Academy. During this year they will gain experiences to help them select the Prep Academy they will belong to starting as sophomores.

Health Sciences Academy: Pathways for students interested in healthcare, sports medicine/physical therapy and emergency/first responder careers.

Human Services Academy: Pathways for students interested in education, criminal justice/law, JROTC aerospace and environmental sciences/public works careers.

Technical Sciences Academy: Pathways for students interested in construction technology, manufacturing, welding, drafting/design and automotive technology careers.

Power, Robotics & Security Academy: Pathways for students interested in engineering, alternative energy, power and cybersecurity/information technology careers.

Business & Communication Academy: Pathways for students interested in finance, entrepreneurship, graphic arts, media production, logistics and agribusiness careers.

This is where we currently stand. We need you to help make us better and continue to give us guidance. We will be hosting public meetings during the week of Oct. 9 where we present in more detail everything discussed here. At these meetings, we will ask for your feedback and input for improvement.

We are excited about the impact this will make on students and our community. Every Grand Island Public Schools graduate will be world ready. Our students will thrive.

This is what is best for students. This is the direction we are going. We want you to come along with us.