With the theme of “Seeing and believing,” the Academies of Grand Island Senior High are open for education.

The GISH administration’s focus on communicating to the school’s well more than 2,000 students that they and the teaching staff see each one of them and believe in each one of them is impressive.

This is the first year for the full academy structure at GISH. Last year’s freshmen enrolled in the Academy of Freshman Exploration. Those students, now sophomores, and the rest of the school’s upperclassmen will now spend their final three years of high school in one of the other five academies.

The students had a deadline to choose their first and second choices for an academy and the pathway to take in that academy and the school said that 97% of them got their first choice. The students are now divided into these academies:

n Education, Law and Public Safety

n Business and Communication

n Medical Sciences

n Technical Sciences

n Engineering and Technology

This distribution means that the students will be studying subjects in which they’re interested and they will be learning about topics that they believe will help them get jobs or continue their education after high school.

It also means that, even though the school’s student body is very large, they are in smaller groups where they can develop close friendships and make connections with individual teachers.

And, with the Academy of Education, Law and Public Safety at the Wyandotte Learning Center, formerly Starr Elementary School, and the Academy of Technical Sciences and the Academy of Engineering and Technology at Career Pathways Institute, the district is not packing all its high school students into the main building. A shuttle takes students between their academy and GISH so they can take basic classes, but their presence is staggered enough that the main building will not be overflowing.

The students’ responsibilities, Executive Principal Jeff Gilbertson told them on the first day of school, are to attend school and to communicate with teachers and staff members. If students feel they’re overlooked, they need to speak up.

“You need to advocate for yourself,” Gilbertson told them.

Superintendent Tawana Grover also told the students that the district believes every student needs to be seen and supported.

This message was clearly communicated as the school opened on Tuesday. Some students will be less apt to advocate for themselves than others. So now it will be the job of the teachers and administrators in the academies to see that no student falls through the cracks.

Grand Island Public Schools’ mission statement remains: “Every Student, Every Day, A Success!” It is clearly following this mission at Grand Island Senior High.

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