To visit our school during the academic day is to witness that our school environment balances frenetic, intellectual energy, with a pretty relaxed, easy going but orderly flow of teachers and students through the building. Our teachers come to school every day ready to give their 150%, to seize every opportunity they can to engage the growing minds thriving in our program. As much as our teachers “bring it” to their classes, our students “bring it” to their studies, producing a sort of quiet, intellectual fury that sustains and defines our school culture.
When the last academic class lets out for the day, what happens next is anything but quiet and can only mean one thing: time for sports, clubs, and extracurriculars!
We recognize that what students do outside the classroom is just as important as what students do inside the classroom; extracurriulars are as vital as academic preparation to leading a fulfilling life. They promote health, social engagement, and leadership skills.
Last year, our “soft launch” of extracurriculars provided a fantastic foundation for the expanded offerings we have brought to students this year. With multiple art studios, a regulation sized gym, large multipurpose rooms, and fields all at our fingertips, we are excited to see our program offering grow and evolve.
I sat with Monica Masterson, Director of Auxiliary programs, to discuss our philosophy on extracurriculars and her vision for growing and expanding our offering. A distinction we are proud of is how we go about developing our program. Our administration surveys families and students to learn what they are interested in, then Ms. Masterson compiles a list of potential providers both internal (teacher-led) and external via a number of the fantastic providers throughout New York City. Providers then get the opportunity to “pitch” their programs to our families at our Extracurricular Fair.
Soccer sign-up was popular!
Run for it!
AH: Ms. Masterson, what’s your goal with the development of our extracurricular program? I notice a really wide variety of activities offered this year.
MM: The point of our extracurricular program, aside from giving students the other opportunity to be social – as we are working to create a social community—is to give students the opportunity to build their resume for college (for the older students), build skills and teammanship. For older kids, our clubs and activities are geared towards putting skills into action. For example, we are starting Model U.N. and Robotics. These two clubs (among others) will help expand their knowledge as well as build their resume for college. Model UN is great for understanding politics, negotiating, and interpersonal skills.
AH: How did you put this long list together? There are such specific things on here like a club based on Claymation and a club based on teaching students to be entrepreneurs.
MM: The base of what we are offering this year is we listened to families.
AH: Athletics and sports are a big topic of discussion for our community. How is our sports program going to grow and evolve?
MM: We are offering sports now so that when we are eligible to join a league, students will have the skills. We are offering as many in house options as we can this year with teachers and coaches at our school providing the services and heading up the teams. In the future we will continue to do that where it makes sense and is possible – it cultivates a sense of community and connection with teachers.
AH: Does “in house” mean that we will be competitive?
MM: This year we are hoping to have and are in the process of arranging scrimmages with other schools. We aren’t competitive this year as we are not part of a league. We want our students to be ready for the moment that we are accepted to a league – that’s what this year is about.
AH: So it sounds like when we are in a competitive league our kids are going to be ready to give other schools a run for their money, right?
MM: That’s certainly likely given the great preparation they will have this year!
AH: What are you seeing as the most popular so far?
MM: The most popular are soccer (co-ed) and Minecraft (co-ed). Fashion design is also really interesting and really popular.
This year, we are offering everything from soccer to basketball, fencing to capoeira, robotics to Russian, Minecraft club to digital photography. Explore the full list here. We have an extracurriculars album on our Facebook page where you can get an up to date look at our program. Have a look here.