What I learned at intersession: Day 4

Glencliff students working to catch up in the library Except for a few students with HD video cameras and a few more with paintbrushes, the hallways at Glencliff High School were empty.

The classrooms, however, were not.

High schoolers were parked in front of computers and in desks, showing real care with their academics. They fit into every level:

  • making up lost class credits so they can graduate on time
  • catching up in classes where they’ve fallen behind
  • studying hard for end-of-course exams
  • learning ACT strategies
  • boning up for college-level Advanced Placement exams

Every classroom was quiet and felt studious, even though the possibility for a sunny vacation day was beckoning at every window.

ACT Prep classes from Tutoring Unlimited were free of charge to Glencliff students during intersession.

More of their classmates weren’t in the building at all. They’ve spent the week on field trips to Dell Computers, college campuses, Washington, D.C. and more. Both inside and outside campus, it’s been a good week for intersession at Glencliff, averaging around 115 students every day. They skipped extra spring break to be here, and they are getting a lot in return.

One of the highlights is the ACT prep class. Glencliff partnered with the private company Tutoring Unlimited, which offered a heavily discounted rate for its normally pricey ACT class. The school covered the bill, meaning it was completely free to the students. When I went in, they were covering trigonometry, working through a problem that was well beyond my skill level. And the instructor wasn’t messing around.

“You’re memorizing. Stop that. You need to learn and work through it.”

This class supports the instruction these students receive every day in school, inching them closer to raising their ACT scores and getting into college. School covers the content. This class teaches kids strategies for taking the test.

Artists working on a mural outside the Glencliff gym

Downstairs from this classroom I ran into Eric Savaiano, director of Glencliff’s Family Resource Center. This week he’s teaching a filmmaking class (hence the video cameras) where his students are trying finish an episode of “The West Wing” with their own story and actors. They also put together a couple of original short films and a documentary, all of which will be showcased in a school film festival at the end of the week.

In the auditorium, I caught a few minutes of “The Wiz,” the latest production from the Glencliff Drama Department, which is under heavy rehearsals this week. It looks like quite a production.

Artists working on a mural outside the Glencliff gym

Another impressive production was happening just down the hall: artists working on a huge mural outside the gym. They’ve been at it all week, taking it from blank canvas to colorful athletes one stroke at a time.

Glencliff had a lot to offer this week. Academic Principal Tonja Williams hopes to see it grow even more. She is convinced that next year's intersession will be even bigger all over the district. It’s something I’ve heard all week long at every school I’ve visited. Intersession is great, and it only has room to grow. Once everyone sees the true value and what it can be at their own schools, they’ll grab hold of it and run.