High School Plans Schedule, Hires Teachers

3 min read

Nearly a year after Sequoyah first announced the high school to the Sequoyah community, there are a lot of new plans in the works for the new division. Now that the first high school class is in the process of applying for enrollment, the prospective program in the process of being finalized. Faculty is being hired, curriculum is being designed, and schedules are being put together.

Marc Alongi, Sequoyah’s previous Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Support, is the new director. There will eventually be about fifty students per grade level, though the first students will be ninth and tenth grade only, and the first crop may be smaller than fifty per class. 

If interested in attending the high school, current eighth grade Sequoyah students do not need to apply to the High School. They can simply enroll in ninth grade, though they will have a transitional interview with Sequoyah Director Josh Brody. 

The school will use a mod system for its classes, which means that classes will be divided into seven modules, lasting approximately five weeks each. During each mod, a student will take three eighty-five minute classes plus one forty-five minute elective every day.

Hires so far include Ronnie Bryan, the current Junior High Geometry Specialist, who will be the founding math teacher; Ian Chang, current Out Back Language Arts Specialist, who will be the founding humanities teacher; and Arden Thomas, who will be the founding theatre teacher. “We’re still interviewing candidates for science,” says Alongi, “which would be physics, conceptual physics, and chemistry; Spanish; Visual Arts; and Music. And we are also going to possibly hire a Director for Social Innovation.”

Chang will be teaching humanities, a combined study of English and History. “In the high school there will no longer be any language arts classes,” says Chang, “it changes to a more college-y mode where you will study literature in order to learn the world through it. There will obviously be a lot of reading and writing too, but when you get to high school, you’re assumed to know how to read and write.”

“When we design curriculum, we feel that students really benefit from understanding what we call ‘Interdisciplinary connections,’” says Alongi, “because the world is not organized into subjects. The world is full of people and cultures and histories and different political systems and different ways of approaching economic systems.”

The high school schedule will feature an elective period called ‘Z Block,’ during which students can choose from a range of different electives taught by teachers, which Alongi noted are similar to options.

 “It could be a special kind of ‘build your own computer club,’” says Alongi, “where a teacher is helping a student learn how a computer works and how you can build your own. Maybe you [could] 3D print the case for your computer. There may be some robotics work where a teacher can come in and show you how that works. There may be a culinary arts class or a specific Photoshop or photography class that we can offer as an elective. There’s a choice of what you can take and every five weeks it would change.” The “mod” schedule would also allow teachers to offer in-depth academic classes during the main school day according to their passions. Chang said, “I really want to teach a course on the Internet. There have been a lot of novels and poems that have been strongly influenced by the invention of the Internet, [which] I’m personally interested in.”

As for other activities, there are a number of sports for which students will be able to form teams. There will be other after-school groups for music, theatre, and visual arts, Alongi hopes. He noted that after-school groups might include an extension of the Gryphon Publishing Company. “There might be a debate team, hopefully there would be a forensics type team or a science Olympiad or a science bowl, speech, or other forensics,” said Alongi.