Hopkins Academy

North Star… Or Mystery?

In Editorials on June 10, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Jeremiah Hyslip 2014

For years, students here at Hopkins have wondered about North Star. What is it? Is it really a school? Why do they seem to spend so much time outside? Last week, I had the opportunity to see the school and speak with the Program’s Director to get the answers. North Star is like a recreational center for home-schooled students. It is an alternate option for students who have a hard time or don’t fit in at regular high schools. Although North Star is not technically a school, it can be useful: it provides a different learning atmosphere for students. It’s title “Self-Directed Learning for Teens” implies, the students choose what they do and don’t learn. North Star claims that they are a place to lead, learn, innovate, and inspire. There are a variety of different classes including a spoken word (poetry and writing) workshop and a Rubik’s Cube workshop, along with many others. Most of the time spent outside is used for rehearsal for the theater program. Students are not required to take the MCAS because it is a private school.

Lastly, there are seven principles that outline the work done at North Star that can give you a better view of how the whole operation works:

  1. Young people want to learn.
  2. Learning happens everywhere.
  3. It really is OK to quit school.
  4. How people behave under one set of circumstances and assumptions does not predict how they will behave under a very different set of circumstances and assumptions.
  5. Structure communicates as powerfully as words.
  6. As adults working with young people, we should mostly strive to “make possible” rather than “make sure.”
  7. The best preparation for a meaningful and productive future is a meaningful and productive present.
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