Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Public Schools Cultivate Diverse Interests
Unique opportunities available at area schools

January 01, 2014

Local public schools are offering an increasing number of interesting academic and extracurricular options to their students. Advanced placement classes, International Baccalaureate degrees, diverse clubs and projects to join, community service programs – all of these opportunities allow students to explore their interests, build an impressive transcript and learn more about themselves as young people. Highlighted here are a few examples of what students can find at some of the public schools in our area.

Academic rigor

At Hamilton Southeastern High School, there are both Advanced Placement and Dual Credit programs, which work with colleges such as Ball State, Indiana University and Purdue University. Within this district, Fishers High School (FHS) currently offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) program for students who attend FHS or Hamilton Southeastern High School (HSEHS), says Marianna Richards, Director of School and Community Relations at Hamilton Southeastern Schools. “In fact, both FHS and HSEHS appear on national best high school lists based on student performance and strong academic programs,” she adds.

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) offers a variety of magnet programs tailored to suit individual students’ interests and skills. Essentially, magnet programs function as “schools within larger schools” giving students more individualized attention. IPS currently has magnet programs focusing on environmental studies, Montessori education, performing arts, medical sciences and Spanish immersion among many others, with details available on the district’s website.

Extracurricular options

Because of their size, public schools are often able to offer a variety of extracurricular activities for students in sports, music and special interest clubs. And because public schools usually compete with other similarly sized districts, many opportunities for competition exist.

HSEHS boasts academic teams competing in state and national contests such as Mock Trial and We the People, says Richards. Meanwhile, FSH offers several visual and performance arts programs, foreign language groups and academic clubs.

Indianapolis Public Schools offers an Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) which provides a curriculum that helps cadets develop life-long leadership and decision making skills. The JROTC program is currently available to students in grades 9 -12 at five IPS schools.

Developing community

All children should have the opportunity to feel a part of a community and local schools address that issue in various ways. At Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township, Club Phoenix is a program designed to help students with academic assistance, community involvement opportunities and other enriching activities, says Director of Public Relations and Community Outreach Suzanne Rothenberg.

“Not all of our students have a safe, supportive and stimulating environment to return to after school,” she says. “Through Club Phoenix, students have access to adults who can help them succeed. It’s important for public schools to offer programs like Club Phoenix as a way to take extra measures to ensure that students continue to grow and thrive academically, socially, mentally and physically,” explains Rothenberg.

In addition, many public schools have programs that allow students to give back to their community. “Student leadership and service opportunities abound at all grade levels at HSEHS,” says Richards, “whether it be dance marathons for Riley Children’s Hospital, food drives for local pantries, walkathons or school supplies collection for African schools.” Community service is a critical part of the education model at Hamilton Southeastern Schools, as Assistant Superintendent Dr. Beth Niedermeyer explains, “We strive to provide experiences and help students discover their own unique talents both in and outside the classroom.”

Given the wide variety of options available in public schools today, students have multiple opportunities to grow socially, emotionally and academically during these important years of their development.