CT River Academy holds Open House

By Frances Taylor
East Hartford - posted Thu., Feb. 3, 2011
CT River Academy holds Open House

Students and parents looking for a new education alternative came to the open house  Jan. 29 at the Connecticut River Academy at Goodwin College, one of the newest magnet schools in the area.
The school has 140 students, and is currently housed in temporary buildings until their $57 million state-of-the-art environmental high school is completed. “Even though we are limited [in size] right now, we are having a really great time,’’ said Linda Dadona, principal of Connecticut River Academy during her talk to about 150 prospective students and their parents.
The academy is located on the banks of the Connecticut River, and its curriculum will focus on environmental sciences, using the river as a place for study and exploration. The school is also part of the new Goodwin College campus.
The school is a “wireless laptop environment” where students can use their laptop computers during school time, and download information and resources from the academy while at home. During the school day, students sit at tables, rather than at individual desks, to promote collaboration in learning, Dadona said.
“This is a unique collaboration between a public high school and a private college,’’ Dadona said. “That is very different. We are not just here in name, we are part of the Goodwin College family,’’ she added.
The school has an “early college,’’ curriculum than enables academy students to interact with Goodwin College faculty and students in learning projects. Juniors and seniors can earn college credits before graduation.
The school’s focus on environmental sciences includes the study of land, water and air quality, plant and animal growth, ecology and renewable energy.
“We are on the banks of the Connecticut River and…. the goal of  environmental education is to teach students about the complex interactions between human and natural systems and how to make informed and responsible decisions about their lives and the environment,’’ Dadona said.
The academy is already providing some unique educational experiences for its students.  In October, a group of students took a five-day trip on the Half Moon, a replica of Henry Hudson’s 1620 vessel that explored the Hudson River.  The Half Moon is expected to visit the school twice a year.
The academy will also have its own 40-foot research vessel that will dock at the school, said Alan Kramer, dean of magnet schools at Goodwin College. “We’ll be able to explore the wetlands, take water samples and study the Connecticut River.’’  The boat will also be used by college students who will lead projects that high school students can participate in.
Students were on hand to answer questions about the Connecticut River Academy.
“What I like about the school is that there are a lot of hands-on activities, and the teachers are always willing to help you,’’ said Liz Edinger, 16, a 10th-grader.
“You know how at some schools, there is always one favorite teacher? At this school, they are all my favorite teachers,’’ said Jessica Cox, 14, a freshman.
The academy will eventually have a total of 480 students, which will be the maximum capacity. Students from 40 towns in the Greater Hartford area are eligible to apply through a lottery system for open slots in the ninth and 10th grades.  
 The deadline for applications is Feb. 11, and the lottery will be held March 15. For more information contact Alan Kramer, 860-913-2032 or akramer@goodwin.edu.  All applications must be made through the Regional School Choice Office (RSCO) www.choiceeducation.org.

Contact Frances Taylor with comments or story ideas in the East Hartford area at ftaylor@remindernet.com.

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